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
Sun-02/05/2021 REP Steyning Tri
Sun-02/05/2021 3Forts
Sun-16/05/2021 REP Arundel Tri
Sat-05/06/2021 Mighty Hike - South Coast
Sat-12/06/2021 REP Arun Swim
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

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 :     )

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 - 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