Life on the road

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The previous tour took the runbritain team across the country from Northern Ireland in the north (and in Ireland!) to Taunton in the south and Bury St Edmonds in the east covering around ten venues in ten months.

This time around the locations for the runbritain road shows are fewer, but the purpose remains the same: to better communicate the work and purpose of runbritain (and on this occasion Run England, too), to share information on services and processes and to ensure that individuals, groups and events are getting the most from their race licence and what benefits that brings.

Road show one took place with 19 attendees at Manchester’s Regional Sports Arena at Sportcity, with just under half of those present representing runbritain, slightly less than that representing Run England and the remaining attendees with an interest across both programmes.

Their experience and expertise varied; Alia Pike is a Run England Run Leader and is training to be a coach, Adrian Thiemicke is Chairman of the North West Regional Panel, a British Association of Road Running (BARR) Regional Representative and an Event Adjudicator.

Keith Binney is a Regional Panel member and Event Adjudicator in South Yorkshire, while Julie Fairclough is a personal fitness trainer and an endurance coach at Stockport Harriers and Bramhall Runners.

You might be wondering what the difference is between runbritain and Run England?

On a simple level it’s this: Run England is about increasing participation; it’s getting people off the sofa and out running; it’s the first steps. runbritain is getting more people running more and racing, and is a one-stop-destination for runners and race organisers.

If you’re reading this on the runbritain website you already know that runbritain offers a free online entry service for the sport (318 races have already signed up in 2012), a full calendar listing, news pages for news, views and event promotion, e-newsletters, handicap scores (30,000 of you have claimed so far!), Reward Running and National Ladder, a Sennheiser Training Zone and annual Grand Prix.

For those who stand on the ‘other’ side of the start line, runbritain provides race licences and licensing standards, Race Director’s courses, medical guidelines,  appoints and manages regional licensing panels, Chairs and Event Adjudicators and supports Course Measurers, all of which is documented via the Race Director’s Portal (which, in case you were wondering, is currently being re-developed and will soon be updated to match its much better-looking front-end, and with better functionality!)

Run England has 32,000 members and has over 6,500 LiRF leaders (Leadership in Running Fitness), while ‘on the ground’ it offers 3-2-1 permanently marked running routes, which are safe and well-lit.

So what did the audience think? They asked about starting up a 5k or 10k race from scratch and what support is out there; all the support they need can be accessed via, although sometimes it’s worth asking if another race really needs added to the calendar when the race programme is growing more and more packed every year? Could it actually be better use of resources to link up with an existing event?

A significant point was raised regarding Event Adjudicators. For those who don’t know, Event Adjudicators came into play to coincide with the new licensing process from 1 April 2012.

The role of an Event Adjudicator (who must be appointed for every UKA licensed event) is to fulfill a licence scrutinising procedure so that runbritain can support 100% of events with a race day assessment and further contribute to improved operations of UK endurance running. The role is not to arbitrate on rules of competition.

But what if they’re not up to scratch? It seems that the standard of Event Adjudicators varies greatly across the country and with that in mind, basic training was recommended by the attendees in road show one, a point which will be discussed by runbritain officials before the year is out.

Linked to the above, it was questioned whether this role was enough, or should race referees be at all races?

Medical guidelines and risk assessments were also considered, and for smaller races in particular, how can they be sure that a risk assessment has been completed in the absence of a Safety Advisory Group (which tends to be the case at smaller events outside of the SAG remit). It’s a priority issue which will now be looked into.

Similarly, for smaller races, it was asked if there was a ‘half-way house’ on what was required to ‘make-do’ e.g. can they go without an Event Adjudicator, or can they ease back on officials? It seems an innocent enough question, but the answer is no. It’s simple really, because if an event has a licence it has to reach certain standards. That’s what we’re here for.

In the same way, if an event has a licence is can access all of the benefits listed above, so there are perks of the job, so to speak, but you have to earn them. You don’t get something for nothing.

On a lighter note, and one which is already being acted upon, is for as many of the registered Run England groups in Manchester to get together for a training run. One of the parks, perhaps with 3-2-1 set-up in place, is going to be used as a super-group run - and could, wait for it, even have a Santa theme - just before Christmas. The idea is a really great one for any town or city that has more than two Run England groups as a way of setting the scene for a recruitment drive in January, and it was definitely one of the most fun suggestions of the night.

If you missed out on Manchester but want to have your say there are four more road shows scheduled for 2012: Birmingham on 20 November, Taunton on 21 November, Peterborough on 27 November and Durham on 28 November.

For more information check out the news pages of the runbritain website.