Wednesday, 16 May 2012

BEAVERBROOKS takes all sorts!

 In order to secure an entry on the day, I arrived quite early for last Sunday's BEAVERBROOKS 10K in Blackpool.  As I walked across the Hilton Hotel car park to enter I thought it was unusual to be racing on the Fylde Coast in a race NOT organised by Ron Mc Andrew of fyldecoastrunning.    But as chance would have it, Ron was the very first person I met as I reached the basement door of the hotel.  He would be marshaling today. He quip was,
                                                "Terry Lonergan doing a fun run!".   

When the charity event first started in 1982 it was an issue whether club runners should take part as it was not a "registered" event.  There was talk of local AAA officials out spying to make a note of any club runners taking part and have them banned! Not sure if that ever happened but
certainly many club runners wore alternate vests for the day.
 I stuck to that practice on Sunday but  times have changed; with no threat of a ban many local runners wore Wesham and Blackpool colours as normal.
 However, as an unregistered race, our performances will not appear on Power Of 10 records.
Probably justified as times seemed to have been rounded up/down to the nearest 15 seconds!
According to the results 17 of us crossed the line in exactly 43 minutes. Some deadheat!!
  The leading runners were heading back up as we approached the Pleasure Beach and club runners obviously made up the first dozen places or so.  But around me I would say the majority were "unattached".  Many young men with talent and potential running an occasional race but not in local clubs.
 The results show hundreds under 35 took part; yet this is the age group so lacking in "normal" club races.  The question is then, how do we get them to join our running clubs?
Over my 50 years of competing,  relationships are established with runners, like Ron McAndrew who I first competed against in 1968.  Relationships often established  actually during  the race itself.   Not a conversation as you might have when training of course but a bit of race banter and  then the inevitable after race post mortem. 
 Sunday saw little of that as nearly every runner around me was listening to music.  Now you might say it was a good thing they couldn't hear me but they cut out a lot of the atmosphere of the event.
The cheering of the holiday makers lining the route,  the sounds emitting from the arcades on the Golden Mile,  the screams from the Big Dipper on the Pleasure Beach,  the clanking of the trams, the cries of the seagulls. And no real rapport with fellow runners; no relationships developed!
 With no real malice intended, quite often fellow runners say to me, "you're not the runner you were,  are you, Terry?  With two fingers forming a "V" either side of my nose, I point out that I am 63 and the years of competition have taken something of a toll. 
 However, taking part in mass participation events such as the Beaverbrooks brings home the opposite. Compared to the general running public,  we are in fact pretty fit indeed. 
 In the recent Salford 5K with 106 in it I was nearly half way down the field  in 52nd place.
                      Here with I was in the top 6% of the 2500 who took part.  
                        It was that kind of event. Nice for a change, I suppose.


  1. I've perceived a certain – shall we say – reluctance in runners to join established/traditional athletic clubs.
    There has been a gradual, though very definite, change in the demographic of the running community. These days, a great number of people come into the world of running via informal groups; organized by gyms, leisure centres, sports shops etc. I think that there is a stronger emphasis on the social aspect of these groups; rather than the competitive side of things – something which the athletic clubs are perceived to engender.
    Is it possible that these days, clubs are seen as being élitist, unfriendly, over-competitive, too serious, and somewhat aloof?
    There is a gulf between the 'new' runner and the 'traditional' club runner – as borne out by the race results highlighted in the original post. Maybe this gulf is something that a majority of the modern participants just have no interest in crossing?

  2. Agree. Hence nearly every running club home page tries to counter the elitist claim by saying they are a "friendly" club catering for all abilities. Paradox ref. the "social" side I frequently see runners training (usually female) who I don't recognise as club runners who are training together BUT using headphones! You know part of the pleasure of a training run with friend(s) is the chat and banter.
    Recruitment? I think clubs have to work a bit harder to recruit the 20 and 30 year old runner where the potential lies. E.G. a "fun run" for only 18/30 year olds who are unattached.

  3. I still wonder if there is a strong enough competitive desire amongst that age-group.
    I think, from an historical/traditional perspective, people who have joined athletic clubs have done so with the intent of being competitive; rather than being a 'fun-runner'.
    Terry, you and I had the advantage of starting off from the very bottom rung of the athletics ladder – a point from where we were able to take advantage of our full potential and to progress through the ranks. That long and natural progression gave us what was – comparatively speaking - outstanding ability, by the time we reached the senior ranks.
    Todays society is geared to comfort and convenience, with a 'quick fix' attitude that desires everything done yesterday. Running well requires a great deal of patience. I still find myself questioning whether a significant enough number of the 'younger' element, can harness and apply the required patience (not to mention the '5Ds' : Desire, Drive, Determination, Dedication, and Discipline) to really make a marked difference.