Another two races set to disappear from the Merseyside calendar...
As previously discussed, the issue of race entry fees and event delivery costs have been brought sharply into focus with the possible disappearance of two of the three Halton Races in 2007. The three events - including the Runcorn Bridge 5 Mile Race - have been staged in recent years by Bill Sergeant, Jim Ross and Paul Bostock (all of whom were instrumental in developing the Liverpool International Half Marathon over a ten year period from 1994 - 2004) and a small number of volunteers.
However, with numbers static in recent years and significant increases in Road Traffic Management and Policing costs these smaller events are being literally forced off the road. Runners generally are unaware of spiralling event costs which are not just confined to Traffic Management and Policing costs. Increasing legislation every year means that almost every aspect of event delivery is under scrutiny from toilet provision to marshalling.
Smaller races in particular are being put under increasing financial pressure due to low level entry income and in the main, no sponsorship. So, runners have two options:
- Either enter in bigger numbers; or
- Pay the required increase in entry fees.
It must also be remembered that these races are being put on by volunteers who give their considerable time, effort and energy for the benefit of those who wish to run. The alternative (without sufficient income) is that the events simply disappear. Most local runners will remember the Devil's Gallop and the Up The Shore Race which have gone from the sporting calendar and are missed by many.
Traffic Management and the issue of road closures is also an ongoing topic of discussion. The re-introduction of the Tunnel 10K scheduled for 28th May has had to be postponed until 10th September because Merseyside Police and Wirral Borough Council were unable to confirm road closures in sufficient time.
Despite having been aware of the event for six months or so the Traffic Management Plan provided was considered insufficient and unsafe on the part of the Race Organisers (L1310K). Consequently the event had to be postponed.
The traffic management plan will have to be resubmitted and Wirral Borough Council given SIX weeks from approval to process a Temporary Road Closure Order. This will no doubt seem an extremely long time by most runners - but it must be understood that we are dealing with legislative process. The days of simply putting an event on are long gone. Perhaps we have become victims of our own demands, particularly with the 'blame and claim' mentality that exists in some areas of our society.
Every aspect of race event provision has to be scrutinised. Bear in mind we, as race organisers, have to account for signage, marshals, diversionary routes, car parking, residents, business and local traffic access and egress from any points on the course, people management (spectators and runners), toilets, changing, baggage, catering, litter - and even race tape that has to conform to legislation. So please, the next time you feel inclined to complain, spare a thought for the amount of effort that will have already gone in to putting the race on in the first place. It's not easy.
If you would like to raise a particular topic about road race events on Merseyside please let me know. Next up, a review of Marathon 2008 developments and the October 10K. Ending on a positive note - I was advised last week by Guinness that the 2005 Santa Dash did in fact beat the World Record for the Most Santas in One Place. It now stands at 3,921. The target for 2006 is 6,000.
Entries are already coming in!