Tuesday, 27 April 2021

2021 and the Race to Normality... REP Bluebell gallery is now live

Bluebells on the REP Bluebell Trail

The REP Bluebell 10m and 10k FREE Race Gallery is here and ready for you to download your race memories - especially that big climb on the 10 mile route !

The Bluebell race results are here - http://sspimg.com/REPBluebell-race-results

Are you a event organiser ? Do you want more for your participants, Sponsors and Charities ? then apply for a quote today https://sspimg.com/give-memories

As the race back to normality begins - first off the line for us was the Raw Energy Pursuits Angmering Park Bluebell 10mile and 10k race. Supporting the RSPCA the event runs through the private Angmering Park Estate where some lovely bluebells can usually be seen as a carpet of blue in the woods. 

Flying over the valley view on the 10mile course

See the carpet of bluebells in the woods - just about!

At the moment it is more of a distant haze of blue as the colder nights and days drag on a bit and nothing has quite come to full bloom, but there were signs of them if you had a closer look. With the bright sun a glint of blue could be see across the woodland floor despite the harsh contrast shadows...

Good to see Burgess Hill Runners out as a team effort

Not a bad place to have a run

post-lockdown running shoe technology developments yet to be adopted

The fast ones

Sunny yet cold

Double thumbs up and a surrender !

Strong at the finish

Just the number will do

Keeping it chilled at the finish

Wave your arms in the air !

Full points to the REP team who put on a sensible socially distanced race in what are the most restrictive conditions to allow this sort of thing to go ahead. With about 20 people given a five minute slot to get going in groups of a socially distanced six - everything went pretty smoothly and it was rare out on the course to see more than a pair of individuals running together and within 20 meters of the next runners. Using an alphabetic sorting it also meant that family members were kept in the same time-window - so the option to run together was there (if they wanted it!).
yes - lovely bluebell woods

Getting air in the woods

Also getting air in the woods - chaotic running is the new parkour

Marshals were at a minimum on the course too, which then puts the responsibility back onto the runners to know the course and look for arrows and markers. I personally refined my "turn left and go through the gate" marshalling to "bear left onto the grass" - because guess what - everyone was looking straight up to the big gate 150m ahead, and just heard the last word "gate". Remember - it's not what you say, it's what they hear ! (the correct gate was 60m ahead on the grass to the left as they ran at it). (also turns out that if you did go straight on and then join the rest of the 10k route - you did actually end up doing 10 miles anyway! - that's a relief eh Debbie ?!)

Debbie had a wonderful run !

But honestly, it was just good to see some regular faces and people after a year and also more poignantly - still alive. For years and years the meeting up with the marshals at the veteran car run at the finish line was more of a Highlander gathering to see who had survived the year. It was always a very sombre occasion, and I think it would be right and proper to say we are sharply aware that this past year will have affected many of the people we see or usually see and our thoughts are there with all of you. 

Taking the no marshalling opportunity

As many of you will know the REP events have been fully paid up members of the "free photos for participants" event club for many many years. The high-end quality of their events has meant they have hosted national triathlon age group championships in the past, but have also managed to do most of these events at what many event organisers would consider small numbers of entrants. It's fair to say their sponsors and charity partners as well as participants have always benefitted from their professional and thoroughly well executed events over the past 15 or so years we have known them.

Next few months ahead

Here's our current list of confirmed events as we slowly expand out of the chrysalis of hibernation throughout the Covid-19 pandemic - all of these are Free Downloads, and all the Mighty Hikes are with the full live photos during the day Pic2Go.co.uk service - helping to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

It's clear that the best events at the moment for Covid secure fun is outdoor trail runs, away from built up urban areas without gathering spectators - which is how we end up with this list looking how it looks over the next three months and all of these are already sold out as far as we know ! I think I'll be sitting mostly in the countryside !.

Future Events

Date Event Website
Sun-25/04/2021 REP Bluebell
Sun-16/05/2021 REP Arundel Tri
Sun-23/05/2021 3Forts
Sat-05/06/2021 Mighty Hike - South Coast
Sun-13/06/2021 Mid Sussex Tri
Sat-19/06/2021 Mighty Hike - Lake District
Sun-20/06/2021 Hampshire Hoppit
Sat-26/06/2021 Mighty Hike - Giants Causeway
Sat-26/06/2021 REP Arun Swim
Sat-03/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Yorkshire Dales
Sat-10/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Gower Peninsula
Sat-17/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Northumberland Coast
Sat-17/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Thames Path
Sat-24/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Peak District
Sun-25/07/2021 REP Dawn on the Downs
Sat-31/07/2021 Mighty Hike - Dedham Vale

Service Quality and what that means.
Lots of pictures, in focus, from different places you can tell a story with, and a search facility that gives you all your pictures and not someone else, and protects your online anonymity.

We've spent a lot of time working with events, participants, sponsors and charities to deliver the most comprehensive event photography service going in our part of the world. Keeping things simple and transparent and accurate is something we aspire to do, as well as ethically and digitally safe. Delivering 100% accurate galleries based on number alone to participants is the most straight forwards and simplest solution that works for everyone. 

As people become more aware of their online digital privacy, advertising tracking, (and even psychometric behaviour profiling) it is very important that whilst we are hosting over 24 million images of runners that we treat those images with the personal anonymity that we all want and expect when out in public, even if that public place is online, we all expect our faces to be kept anonymous and unnamed. A respect for privacy as anonymity even when in public is a standard that we should all expect from the companies we deal with. People can see you in public, but they don't and shouldn't know who you are - otherwise that's called being famous, something many people would very much like to avoid !

If you are an event organiser - and want to deliver an enhanced event for your participants, sponsors and charities in a clean, green and ethical way - then apply for a quote today https://sspimg.com/give-memories

Until next time, please more than ever - keep safe, and I'll get back to my Covid DIY projects.

Monday, 8 March 2021

Oh hello, how's it going ?

Shaun and his mates were not wearing masks and strictly patrolling the village Covid boundaries

How's it going ?

It's all strange times for us too. As our sole source of income is from "mass participation event photography", you can imagine the past year has been somewhat "quiet" on the work front, but not without it's stresses.

Since March when the pandemic started, we managed to squeeze in the off-road and non-urban Beachy Head races, as well as the Clarendon marathon and Half, but other than that - we've now been at 5% of our normal annual turnover. If it wasn't for the furlough scheme, we would be permanently closed and everyone redundant - as it is that has kept a few things ticking over and we haven't cancelled the future. To be honest we came close when the original end of the furlough scheme was for 60% company support - that would have been unsustainable - and I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was adjusted back again although the 20% top-up + taxes etc is eating through the savings, just at quarter of the speed.

out the back of beyond and getting lost the right way on a 12miler

With the news of the latest "unlock" plans - we have now had an whole load of events announce their intentions. If your facebook feed is anything like mine - I am getting hit with adverts for ultra races and charity ultra walks at a rate that makes me wonder where all these likeminded people come from. One genuine concern is with *every race in the calendar* reorganising into early October - where are all the timing mats going to come from and also all the runners - because all the runners - no matter how keen - are not going to run four half marathons back to back into all these re-organised races!.

Here's the current list of events until the end of June - all subject to change!

Date Master Event name organiser website
Sun-25/04/2021 REP Bluebell http://www.rawenergypursuits.co.uk/
Sun-02/05/2021 REP Steyning Tri http://www.rawenergypursuits.co.uk/
Sun-02/05/2021 3Forts https://www.threefortschallenge.org.uk/
Sun-16/05/2021 REP Arundel Tri http://www.rawenergypursuits.co.uk/
Sat-05/06/2021 Mighty Hike - South Coast https://www.macmillan.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising-events/trekking/mighty-hikes.html
Sat-12/06/2021 REP Arun Swim http://www.rawenergypursuits.co.uk/
Sun-13/06/2021 Mid Sussex Tri http://www.midsussextriclub.com/
Sat-19/06/2021 Mighty Hike - Lake District https://www.macmillan.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising-events/trekking/mighty-hikes.html
Sun-20/06/2021 Hampshire Hoppit http://hampshiretrailmarathon.co.uk/
Sat-26/06/2021 Mighty Hike - Giants Causeway https://www.macmillan.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising-events/trekking/mighty-hikes.html

Thankfully there seems to be some sense prevailing - if not forced by councils that don't particularly want their town flooded with supporters hanging about - to delay for a whole year into 2022 - instead of messing about with conflicting new event dates. To be honest there's also the difficulty and amount of work of only allowing 6 months to the next event if you do decide to delay to autumn and then return to a spring race - the event organisers have got to be very good to do that - but their employees will be exhausted by next summer if they try that. We shall see.

the 30mile ride to the sea and back over the hills was a bit of a February treat on a warmer day, especially for my vintage Peugeot... (it is my only road bike BTW).

Inevitably we have had several photographers give up over the past year, and unfortunately one succumb to Cancer, but thankfully none passed away due to Covid, so we are still counting our lucky stars and as far as possible - keeping isolated and distanced. Some of us have had our first vaccination too - so there's a small bit of protection - but still wary about distancing at races.

Running in the cold in January was err cold.

In order to fight the boredom, apart from getting fitter, I've been doing some computer modelling of the hospital admission numbers as a favour for a friends work, and also the impact of vaccinations as they are rolled out. The vaccine does have some impact - but please remember this bit of basic maths - if 70% of the entire adult population has had a 70% (average guess) effective first vaccine - that's only 49% of the population protected - leaving half  (51%) of the population still vulnerable to Covid, which is still enough people to suffer from devastating spread through society. Heads up - we won't be at that 50% point until the end of August 2021 - so if you are keen to get back to normal - please remember that we need at least 85% of the population fully protected so the virus doesn't find other unprotected people easily. That's going to be when everyone has had their second injection - which *should* be august+12 weeks - which is the end of November 2022. Just in time for Christmas I suppose...  Just don't jump the gun this time eh Prime Minister if the data doesn't stack up ?

(Update - Public Health England announced last night that so far through the age groups we're nearer to 85% received of eligible adults so far (except in London) - so that's a bit more hopeful).

(if you want to see some rather unnerving data analytics - then the SAGE advice based on the simulation modelling by Warwick university given to the government before announcement of the unlock says an even more restricted unlock still leads to approximately 45,000 more deaths - it's just the timing that changes - so please still be careful out there : 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963428/S1128_Roadmaps_for_Relaxation_of_NPIs__modelling_impact_of_vaccine_rollout._University_of_Warwick.pdf     )

the cat found a new holiday destination

Future Races in 2021 

So with all that in mind - here's our current up-to-date calendar of events which are all looking at their covid secure regulations and spreading everyone out:

Sussex Sport Photography.com - News Blog: Calendar of events

You may perceptively see that all but a handful of events are "free downloads for participants". (I hope you are thoroughly happy and excited by this transformation!)

This is where the event and/or a sponsor has decided that they are going to pay for your race photos for you ! We are in the situation now that apart from a few exceptional cases - all the events we work at are going to be free-downloads for all competitors, and we are continuously working on that with the remaining races too. 

The benefits for runners, events, and sponsors from free race photos for everyone massively outweigh the alternatives. The benefits of promotion, positive reinforcement, happy memories, and wider race awareness from everyone having their images and sharing them - are just huge for all parties involved. When you compare it to the other option of "you want people to buy these and expect them to promote the race effectively for you ?" - like hello - why would you expect that to be in any way effective compared to giving them race branded photos for free ?  (I think I'd better leave that there before I start getting rude).

Anyway, we've been working intentionally towards this for the past 5 years, and decided to continue down this route despite the lockdown break. Possibly a risky business decision, so we shall see. Races have plenty of time to re-organise their finances or their approach and costs to advertising, marketing and sponsorship - and where or how free race photos represent simply a different channel for money they are already spending on alternatives, but one that generates a significantly more effective outcome - especially for you, the runners, who get their photos for free ! (as a bit of event business information - some well known "aggregator" race entry sites take a 20% cut of race entry fees. We could definitely do free race photos for that much, and promote entries for next year just as effectively!)

my christmas present of a pair of trail shoes have been used a fair bit

You may also see over the past year that several events have come and gone - and several race organisers have gone too. Some race organisers have continued their acquisition of events and bringing them under their umbrella - and the 12 month "no changes" clauses will have expired during lockdown - so be prepared to see some well known races suddenly being promoted by completely different event organisers. Some organisers we have seen uplifting and growing the races, others we've seen cut costs and make the race to bare infrastructure minimum to keep costs down and run on a shoestring - and there's been A LOT of that sort of decisions made through lockdown. In my opinion there's a place for both types in the race marketplace - but as all economists know - you can't cut costs to make more profit in the long term, because you lose the infrastructure and extra capacity to support expansion - and that's your long term growth gone. 

We also have seen timing companies go over the past year due to covid - particularly annoying as I was busy doing some race results analytics and now I can't because all their results have been swallowed up whole too. Bugger.

NO to running zwift, the west wing box set is more interesting on a treadmill, plus it takes up 2.5Gb of my iphone memory !!

So have we truly gone through a period of new runners in the world ? or just the benefit of free time for those of us furloughed and keeping isolated, or the new commute instead of spending it in traffic jams or on trains? Having quit the commute into london in 2008 when this became my full time job - I still have not talked (online obvs) to anyone who wants to go back to full time commuting when this is over - and I don't think they will. At least that will take some pressure off the rail system that you couldn't get a seat at 7am for a one hour ride into london, fingers crossed to anyone going back that you can.

And to those of you still working fully through all this - you seem to be working harder than ever, how you're doing it and keeping it going I don't know - very well done !

and with that - fingers crossed you all managed ok today with the return to school - it's been a bit of a weird one here, the Cat has missed being on the class Teams calls and her all day fuss. I did my best but I'm no replacement.

Until next time, keep up with the training and stay safe