Racing without cars

I want to start a campaign to get race organisers to make their events more friendly to people who travel there without a car. As a bunch of fit and healthy people, it seems crazy to me that most runners go to all their races by car.

As an example, last sunday I did the Eridge Park 10 and the organisers clearly had never even thought of getting there in any other way- there were no public transport directions and no bag storage (although in every other way the race was great).

 Here's what I think.

 As a minimum, race organisers should:

- think about public transport options when planning the race (it's not great if the race starts at 9 and the first train gets in a 9.05)

- provide directions by public transport

- provide bag and bike storage

In an ideal world, race organisers would:

-offer a discount on the entry fee to anyone who arrives on foot, by bike or by public transport, and to runners who car-share

I also think Runner's World could be more proactive in helping people who want to get lifts to races- maybe a tick box on the online entry system, where you can say you're happy to give someone a lift?

 I'd like to know what other people think- is it only me who is driven mad by this? Is it just the races that I'm doing?



  • All very well if you're lucky enough to have public transport on a Sunday morning.

    Outside the big cities, where it's ludicrously expensive and unpleasant, the public transport system we get is not fit for purpose. Lobby the government rather than race directors?
  • Never mind the race organisers - it's just a complete pain to travel by public transport in my experience.

    To get to a race less than thirty miles away from where I live, I'd have to travel about seventy miles by train - into London and then out again.

    Even more local events, say five miles away, would require a couple of buses each way.

    Both of these would, of course, take way longer than driving does, so there is really very little incentive to leave my car.

    Until public transport is more efficient (and reliable), then people will drive if they can.

    If I had no transport of my own, I would just not do the events.

  • Ideally yeah - if an organiser could find a race venue that had great rail links - then that would be good but :

    1. Races are usually early Sundays. Rail transport isnt great on a Sunday.
    2. Usually cheaper to drive there than get the train.
    3. Cycling is OK - but are you going to get elite athletes tiring themselves out to get to the race beforehand ? I've done it for races I wasnt going all out in, but I dont think its practical for most.
    4. Races tend to be away from built up areas. Trains tend to be in built up areas.
    5. Its hard enough organising a race - so why ask them to do more for you with bag/bike parking ?

    You'd be better off spending your energy by joining a running club, or getting some mates together to share lifts to races.
  • I did the Grunty Fen half last weekend - the organisers had put all the info about public transport on the details. 

    However, it turned out that there were actually no trains to Ely that day due to engineering works on the line.

  • Actually - I forgot to mention that most people are basically lazy, and will take the easy option. If you have a car - then you're gonna use it.
  • nice idea harri - just impractical for the reasons given

  • Totally agree that organisers should look into public transport options. 

    The point about start times is a good one.  If there's no bus/train on Sunday then maybe hold the race on Saturday?

    Not convinced driving is a cheaper option.  Last time I looked I didn't have to buy the train.  You do have to buy a car... 

    Maybe even consider stuff like a mini bus to the local station: I've been to one marathon where they have coaches between start and finish.  If this is being done surely it could be extended?

    Services will get better the more people use them.  Good public transport is way less hassle than car maintanance, trafic jams and parking nightmares.

    How about, as a starting point, if Runners World started including a 'slot' for public transport option on their event listings?

  • As a non-motorist, I sympathize. But I live in Reading, in the crowded southeast, and can get to a large number of races by pedal power or train (often both). That might not be the case if I were in a more rural and sparsely-populated area.

    Some of the ideas are not workable. Race organizers are never going to monitor who arrives by car or car shares in order to adjust their race fees. But other ideas are good - at the very least, organizers could check train times before setting the race start time in stone. I know of a few events that I could get to if they started half an hour or an hour later, and they don't require road closures. But other considerations could come into play, and let's not forget that most races are staffed by volunteers and I can't fault them for wishing to give up their leisure hours at a time that suits them.

    Bag storage - yes definitely. Doesn't have to be secure and can be without liability (I carry my valuables in a bumbag) but it would be nice and probably not too hard to get someone to supervise a small tent.

    I'm doing a race this Sunday, and will have to cycle 15 miles to get to it. I'm not expecting a pb image

    So overall it's two cheers from me for this campaign. Anything that encourages folk to leave the car at home is good by definition, but I fear that in many cases practical considerations will get in the way.

  • Prehaps we should get a RW Bus

    Mind you they can't even sort out a T Shirt competion so not much hope thereimage
  • Of course I appreciate some runners live in the back of beyond, and some races are there too.  But I agree race organisers should at least think about it.  I've been to many events where it's assumed that you'll be coming by car, where there are actually options.  And, as has been pointed out, if the organisers can allow people to use public transport by starting the race half an hour later, what's wrong with that?

    Most races have bag storage anyway, so it's not exactly something new being suggested there!  And car parking takes organisation, and maybe field rental, too...

  • Rowan - you dont get saturday races because roads are busier then.

    Liverpool Half is good for public transport - they lay on buses from the town centre there and back - so races do exist, but they are few and far between.

    I'd be a bit reluctant to do a race that didnt have secure baggage. I go to run a race, not carry my valuables round with me. A car is great for keeping your kit in.

    Perhaps if the government encouraged councils to support runs by closing down roads more often -then we could have the races close to public transport routes ?

  • I thought the free Merseyrail service at the tunnel 10K was good too, Cougie.

    Yes it was crowded, but it was fun and everybody smelled equally bad in the train!

    I am not a fan of public transport generally, but if you make it easy for me, I'll think about it. If you make me pay a fortune to use it when little old dears smelling of lavender and urine can use it for free, I'm climbing straight back in my car.

    And we've got three. How dreadful are we?image

  • I'm guessing the roads are going to be busier on whatever day the race is.

  • Not really - roads are always busier on saturdays than sundays - although sundays are now busier than ever before thanks to all the out of town shopping centres. Trust me i have been cycling at the weekends for 25 years. A small amount of race traffic wont make that much difference - and that traffic wont be there when the race is running anyway !
  • Cycling 40 pluss miles in the sunshine to get to a race is great, cycling that distance when it's chucking it down stinks, not to mention the journey home afterward. Can't rely on the British weather to be kind.

    The bag storage I've come across usually entails leaving your bag on the floor somewhere and the cycle park is an appropriate, or inappropriate fence.

    We've just engineered a lifestyle for ourselves which is dependent on personal, ie the car, transport. Not that I actually have one of those things myself.
  • If you have a car already, then using it is quite likely to be cheaper than paying for train fare, especially if there is more than one person travelling in your car.

    And it's just so, so, so much easier than schlepping to the station, finding the train's late or cancelled, having to get from the other station to the start, and then reversing the process afterwards.

  • Wow, there have never been this many responses to a thread I started before... yay image

    I do appreciate that lots of places have rubbish public transport- I live in London now (under protest) but I'm from the back of beyond originally, so I know it's not always possible to leave the car at home. And I'm not saying that everyone should *have* to get to races without a car- just that for those of us who have to / choose to, it would be nice if it was easier!

    Personally I've travelled to some quite far-flung places without a car, an example being the South Devon marathon in Feb. This involved 3 trains, a 3 mile walk, then camping overnight and reversing the process after the race. But I really wanted to do it, and despite asking around was unable to find a lift down there.

    Good points re. volunteers staffing races, and the difficulty of organising yet another thing. I think especially for larger races, it would be reasonably easy to check how many runners are in each car, because there are usually marshalls at the entrance to the carpark to direct people. And certainly somewhere to keep bags is not hard, as a lot of races prove.

     I guess it will be interesting to see, if I can ever afford a car, whether I still care about this! image Hope so...

  • Tris with out cars would be fun.

    Aye you can cycle to the race but with kit more than a few miles it gets right pain in the neck and arse.

  • Fair point!

     Maybe races should have 2 sets of prizes- one set for elites who get there in top condition, having driven, and one for tired people who got there under their own steam...

  • I sympathise.  I don't drive and it's difficult to get to a lot of races in the South-West (which would be local) so I end up doing quite a few races in London or near Reading (i.e. near to where I have family/friends that I can stay with and the public transport is better). 

    I'm not expecting buses to be put on especially, but checking when the first train/bus arrives locally and fixing the race start time accordingly would be nice.  Yes, I know trains don't always run at weekends, etc., but the effort would be appreciated.  Until then, I'll continue with my long warm ups, running from train stations!

    Surprised to hear no bag storage - that's extremely rare in my experience.

Sign In or Register to comment.