Monday 31 October 2022

End of October - race roundup 2022

Did you manage a run with a friend this weekend  ? Enjoying the autumn colours ?

 Just a quick check-in today as we didn't cover any races this past weekend...

I continue to give some thought to what events can do to encourage activities and administration that help their own survival and indeed what runners can do to encourage the survival of their favourite events. Because we all want that !

Clearly things related to financials are the hardest thing for an event to do - giving money back which usually has already been budgeted for is a difficult deal to strike - but what if they refunded injured runners who were able to turn up on the day to volunteer ?  Some of the best races we attend are the best races - simply because the volunteers *know* what the race experience is all about and can bring the support that runners need to the event. Getting more experienced runners into the volunteer force is a must-have for any event, working out how to get people to do that - perhaps takes some innovation.

I currently have two core ideas - which can be modified to suit by any event organiser:

1. Offer easy entry swaps - right up to the race start, don't get involved in the financials - and make sure you promote it - to help get participants to commit early and enter your race (so you can plan effectively).

2. Only offer refunds to injured runners who turn up on the day to volunteer (because we all need volunteers)

If you're injured or unable to attend a race last minute - volunteer - because you had the day planned to be at the race anyway - why not keep the time commitment and help build your local running community ? Your experience as a runner is invaluable to share at a race. Ask the race director if they will refund your entry if you do volunteer !

And race directors - don't refund them until they've done the volunteering ! 

anyone for volunteering ?

So looking at the weekends races - what did we see about the overall attendance ?

Comparable race runner volumes at events 29-30th October 2022

Yes - an average drop across the mainline events I could find of 26%, Further afield in Dublin their marathon was down 11%. 
Taking a rather larger sample from events and just looking at all the events they put on year on year - they're down 49% compared to pre-covid. Granted they have a few months of events to finish the year off - but it's not going to really recover that much.

Interestingly there was some data out about passenger numbers out of Heathrow airport - that's down 30% compared to pre-pandemic volumes.

If I was going to be bold about these sort of numbers - I'd say that any events that need people to attend in person - are all down 28% (+/- 5%).  Whilst the nations financial difficulties were not the cause of the on-coming recession - it was clearly the pandemic and long covid, and the more unstable and unplannable lifestyles we live with now - there is absolutely no way that these sorts of reduced attendance volumes are not the kind of growth that will help dig us out of the economic dead-end we are driving down.

Back to the race analysis - I see that the Love Luton Run festival has introduced a 10k distance and is gently substituting half marathon volume into 10k volume. Whilst this is good on an absolute numbers attending - for an event organiser - this reduces the overall income to the event - because 10k entries are cheaper than half marathons to enter. I don't have the exact accounts for event organising - but logically there's a point where there's not enough half marathon entries to sustain the longer route over and above the 10k, and it causes a painful loss of profit for the event. If you're an event organiser and thinking of adding extra distances - know your volume cut-offs that make each event distance stand on their own.

Sometimes I do think that to focus on the core distance that a race is created for - keeps the marketing clear, makes it easier to organise and simpler to administer. All these simplifications save money on the admin, and ultimately can result in a more focussed and effective marketing campaign for an event - possibly generating more entries too.

Here's the drop in average race numbers this weekend - and yes it's a 27% drop

Did you wake up late for your last race and forget to get changed ?

I hope you all enjoyed the extra hour of the clocks going back - and now the real winter training starts with those long runs in the dark once you get home from work... or if you've the joy of working from home - 11:30 am meetings before lunch to check your vitamin D levels are all ok.

Where's a good race ?

If you're wondering where I do my race checking and entries finding for my analysis - this is the best "participant curated" event listing anywhere -

2022 Events coverage

We don't have any more events for the rest of the year except the exceptional Seaford Mince Pie Run - a 10 miler around some lovely parts of the south downs and finishing at Peacehaven Sports centre - where the facilities are excellent post-run.

It's already sold out, and fancy dress is expected - and I'm always mildly amused by the fact they run it on the day after their annual club dinner - so thoughts and prayers with them and the volunteers for their hangovers ! 

We don't officially cover the veteran car run anymore - it's on November the 6th this year - but there's a simple coverage consistency to having at least a record of the vehicles somewhere on the route - we have galleries going back to 2004 - I think I might get to 20 years and call that a day. Only two more to go then. The numbers are very very low now compared to previous years - less than half the turnout we used to get easily into the 600+ cars - that really was a spectacle to behold. Don't mention Brexit, the economy, or the entrance fees and event sponsorship having an effect - because the cars are still out there running around - just not at this event anymore.

Volunteering is very much fun - do some !

I've only got 14 events in my 30mile radius over November, which really only lands me with two if I don't want to do cross country league races or go over to Crowborough. I might have to enter one and run it myself instead of working. Still not sure. This gluten free body weight (down half a stone) and betablocker free speed (max HR up 15 beats per min) could hopefully average sub 8min miles over 10k - I've recently found still hasn't settled itself - there's some very good and very bad days. Somewhere there will be some bounce in my Calf muscles....and then I will fly !

until next time - have a great weeks training - and remember the bright reflective stuff if you're out at night - it really does make a difference and the prices are coming down significantly compared to last year - examples here - 

Stay safe !


Tuesday 25 October 2022

Macmillan - Run the Trail 2022 and RBK Half Marathon 2022 Galleries now live


Running along the Thames is a fantastic morning out in any weather

The Quicksilver RBK Half Marathon

"Photos of you at the RBK Half Marathon 2022 are now live and online !! Just click here to search with your bib number and see yourself smashing it in the rain ! "

Free to download or order the free downloads -

If you wanted to run somewhere peaceful - Run The Trail was the place to be (*look Dad !, I'm doing PR type shots*)

Macmillan - Run The Trail

We also had the inaugural Macmillan Run the Trail event at Pippingford Park - which used Pic2Go technology to get photos out to participants live during the event for sharing their achievements to friends, family and sponsors for that special extra lift - and they can register here for their free gallery:

There will be a backup gallery on the SSP website later for browsing - and free downloading - but for best sponsorship and benefit lift - the pic2go gallery is the best !

Weekend race volume roundup - so how's it going in general compared to pre-covid ? I'm thinking I should try to do this to keep an eye on things and see if and when things pick up. Last week was an average down 28% - will this week be any different ?

Nope.No. Nopey No.

We see it's not just across the running industry - but all "in person" events that are down a third (ours is roughly 28%) - and costs everywhere are going up  - see this article here about the music events industry - 

Weekends racing numbers

So I ran some numbers, searched out the best races that were indicative of this time of year across 10k's and Half marathons that have been well established from before the pandemic - and this is the table I got:

race volumes across the weekend 22-23rd October 2022

We were only at one of these races - but it's important to have a look at the overall picture.

 Two of these organisers told us they had record entries, but these are actual starters on the day. They were not record numbers. I am now wondering if they had record no-shows too - and is that also a thing ? (or were they just lying to boost marketing blah?).
 You'll see that I've excluded the Beachy Head Half from the numbers - because it didn't take place before covid lockdown, but I have included the Ultra with the marathon - because it falls into a bucket of similar minded runners. If all Beachy Head runners are counted - then it's down on totals by just 11% compared to pre-covid - but I'm still at odds doing that because there's no guarantee the half marathon runners would have run the marathon instead pre-covid.

There is one exclusions to this list - and that's the Run Norwich 10k - which is my first race listed to turn the tide - but because it's a large race over 5000 persons - with a pre-lockdown 2017-2019 average of 5,529 finishers - and had a two year break - it's managed a stunning lift of 12% to 6,201 participants for a 10k. Those extra 672 runners and the average weight that puts into the mix as a 60% by volume of the total runners across these considered races - again biases the data. 

Interestingly Run Norwich is organised by their local football clubs community sports foundation - illustrating how important local community, connection and a sense of togetherness can bring people together.

If we just average the average volume drops across all the races - we still get an average drop of 27%. This takes the absolute volume weighting of runners and considers it on a "average of races averages".

So yes - it's still at 27% drop on average.

Let's hope there's more upside as we get into November after the clocks go back, although the season does tend to stop now...

Anyway enough of the cheerful stuff - let's have some pretty photos of runners running !

First up - do yuo like trail running ? Yes ? Then you should have been at Pippingford Park for the Run the Trail with Macmillan

Trigger warning - it's very hilly there too... beautiful, but hilly.

Pipingford House in the distance

well organised event village

up at the highest point

back down towards the valley and the house in the distance

the not dead - dead Oak

a motivating hand

over the small bridge

Tree trails in the woods

Run !

Get your warmup on

It was not Richard E Grant doing the video, but he had done steady cam for Ellie Goulding yesterday, so basically he was famous

Heroes together and happy to finish

Deep earnest contemplation after finishing a challenge

Top Man wins !

post match interviews

Black dog signals joy at return of the Master !

Basically - you - next year. Get your entries in !

And then over at Kingston upon Thames, sunday morning, it felt more like Kingston under Thames... because it rained a bit, then went very very dark, and then got a bit lighter, and then it finished the race.
Then eventually it stopped raining !

happy to beard here

Bananaman for Masters of the Universe

Far too much enjoyment

Just the one calf guard to go round the corners 

the river makes for a lovely view

this is a full colour photo at 9am in the morning...

A happy day running

he's got his Gel, so he's good to go !

keeping up to date with the latest politics on the move

loves a bit of jumping

V for Victory

High Five for Salisbury

The autumn leaves around Hampton Court

Hampton Court looking fine in the background

All nice in the rain and the flat routes

skating into the finish at speed

the ground is flooded - floating along

Timing mat, not a stream

lit by shoplight

nobody won the 2:10 race

getting through the rain with a smile

mind the flag at the finish !

So - we had a wonderful time in the rain, and finally got our food delivered to the finish line - Deliveroo has it's place at last...

It's now the long road into winter and preparing for next year - we have a few races and will continue to promote free photographs at races as the best way forwards for adding value to a race for the participants, the sake of the charities, promoting sponsors and giving them reason to sponsor, and giving you the proof that you deserve that you ran through the rain for 2 hours last sunday !

Until next time - keep training and be careful out there in the rain and the darker days - please wear High-Viz !