Is the rest of the World

After having just 'lost my rag' a little with a dog lover who wants to run events The Monty with his beloved pet and after all the threads about walkers doing races including last weekends GSR, where I did a lowley (for me) 1hr 18min and still came in the top 2000 finishers out of a claimed 12500 (call it 10500 for arguments sake). A few years ago I would have been more like 4500th amongst the same number of entrants! Is our sport being over run with walkers, dog walkers and fancy dress?


  • I've said it before...

    A running race is a running race, where you aim to get round in the fastest possible time. If you have to walk then fine. If you get injured but want to cross the finish line then fine.

    But please don't set off with the intention of treating it as anything other than an athletics event.

    That includes silly costumes.
  • Aren't there sponsored dog walks for people and dogs to enter (running optional)?
    Training with your dog is one thing, racing with him is another.
    I'd have to slow down and wait for mine to finish doing what dogs do and then clear it up after him.
    Has Mac's owner considered this?
  • There must be safety implications surely - either leads all over the place or dogs off leads all over the place.

    OK - some dogs are well enough trained, but...
  • I'll be joining Barnsleyrunner on the BBQ
  • Intresting comment about running in costume. I'm hoping to run FLM 2005 for Dain Fossey Trust in full Gorilla costume. It will involve a lot of hard training hence the 2 year run up. Running in full costume is not easy. Do I get to be counted as a 'proper' competitor?
  • Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    my best over 10 miles now is 1.20 (7th september this year), in 2001 i did the GSR in 1.31,

    does it mean that i was one of those dog walkers and now a proper runner, or just that i have improved with my running?

    besides, charities are more and more using races as a way of income, and a lot of well-intentioned people, who don't usually run, take part on those massive events. If you like racing, go to small events, club organised events, and not big ones, and if you go to a big one, please don't complain.
  • JJ, Jose', We are runners no problem there but the numbers that are starting to enter events with no ability whatsoever is starting to clog the system. The only acheivement for a lot of them is to get round, they have not pushed themselve's to do it. Barnsleys comment sums it up well.

    And Jose', those big events are ours and at conception were designed as race's in which people can test their endurance and speed there are thousand and thousands of ways to raise money for charity, ambling around the GNR of FLM at half the speed an individual is capable of is no achievement at all. Those people should either take the challenge seriously or go and organise a coffee morning!
  • Obviously thats not to dismiss charity connected with the events, just that it should not overshadow and dominate the event.
  • If I amble around the FLM at half the speed of Khannouchi does that mean that I shouldn't enter? Even if I wear shorts and a vest and train to the best of my ability?

    Agree that dogs, walkers etc. should be encouraged to start at the back but the organisers should decide who they want to allow to participate and organise the start accordingly.
  • Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    Moe, you got a point, although, on my opinion, big events are like big party times. You go there just to enjoy the atmosphere and pay a bit more than you do in other races. They are not ours any more, just like a small family business, once gets bigger, is not family business any more.

    Having said that, i have also seen a lot of more entries on small club events, which maybe is a result of big events being overcrowded.
  • Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    DB, i wish i could run half of Kanouchi's speed
  • I suppose nobody would really get in the way of anyone else if only everyone would be realistic about where they stand on the start areas and then anyone (and their dog maybe?) would be welcome!, is that ever going to happen?............... I doubt it.

    At GSR I started about the middle of the purple area (midway) and was still passing Grey and white (back of field) numbers at 4 miles! What is the point of the organisers going to the trouble of using the system if no bu***rs going to use it!!
    Solution could be to police it and confiscate numbers standing too far forwards!!! (JOKING, honest!)
  • Agree with you on that Moe. I'm getting tempted to line up with the elite runners in future just so that I don't have to keep changing pace to get through the crowds. At Swansea Bay 10k it was impossible to get a decent rhythm going for the first 2k and I'd lined up next to an ambitious time!!!
  • I think the coloured numbers were essentially a good idea and the best way to sort it would be to get the congregated runners and sepectators going in a chorus of 'back, back, back!' at those too far forward. Admittedly that doesn't stop anyone putting down a way too optomistic time in the first place.
  • Hey all, I know they were with guys running but it stil amused me-my first half and my first ten I finished just behind runners with dogs (times were 1:47 and 1:12 by the way).
    It looked like the dogs wanted to go round again.
  • Moe

    I initially agreed with you on the dog thing - simply too dangerous for an event that isn't set up for it.

    But I totally fail to understand your attitude in relation to big events. The idea that big events are somehow "ours" instead of anyone elses is frankly ridiculous.

    These big events were never intended as races for club runners. They were always intended to be participation events - of the 6 objectives of FLM only one relates to athletic achievement in any way. The achievements of people who don't normally run and yet still manage to complete FLM, however slowly, are no less valid simply because they aren't normally runners. The fact that many people do so while wearing costumes makes it more of an achievement not less.

    I'd have to agree with Jose - if you want to race then go to a smaller event - if you go to a bigger event then don't complain.

    And good luck JJ - I saw how hard 7km in one of those suits was!
  • When you say "smaller event" what kind of field size are you thinking of m/ jose?
  • M
    Simply don't agree with this notion that a big event should just be a participation event where personal bests for 'better' runners should be thrown out of the window: to be attempted instead at 'smaller' events.
    The problem is that the vast majority of smaller events (ie every single one I have ever done) do not enjoy many of the following benefits:
    Totally closed roads: (Trying to concentrate on form whilst being hounded by a 4x4 is not so easy)
    Regular water stations: e.g. not every mile or so like at FLM , neither with water bottles instead of cups or the occasional station with energy drinks.
    Championchips: To prove you actually ran the time on your watch!
    Throngs of spectators cheering you on: Great for when you are flagging!
    Quick courses: There are a lot of quick smaller events around, but many of the biggest events just happen to be very quick courses as well.
    Put all these in the mix and you may understand why club runners still like to try and compete well in big events.
    I'm all for allowing people of all abilities to compete in big races, I just believe that every competitor should be given the opportunity to make the most of the enhanced facilities offered at most bigger races to help them maximise their potential (if they so wish).
    A consistent moan on these forums with runners (And I believe they tend to come from those with quicker PB's) is being held up by much slower runners at the start and beyond because people line up far too close to the startline in relation to their own ability.
    It sounds as if the GSR tried a system to get round this but failed because it was neither marshalled properly or open to confusion or abuse by certain runners.
    My proposal to bigger events is to adopt a system similar to the good for age system at the London Marathon, whereby if you can prove you have run a good time at an event in the last two years (And that becomes much easier to prove and verify with many results posted on the internet) you will be guarenteed a place close to the front, which will be segregated and monitored by marshalls to ensure those that shouldn't be there aren't.
    The problem may lie in choosing cut-off times: I would go somethng like 40m for 10K, 1:25 for 1/2 M and 3:15 for the full marathon.
    I don't think this would cause a massive administrative burden and could be fairly easy to impliment at events (I'd imagine for most the amounts claiming a position at the front would be around 100-200 with the exception of the London Marathon).
    This, I believe, would go a long way to eliminating the frustration that the more 'elite' runners often suffer when turning up at a big race.
  • Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    12,500 (or 10,500) is big enough to make the rest smaller

    you have very nice events of 400 runners, or less, i run in June an event with just other 48 people

    "smaller" as in club event and not a big televised charity-focused event
  • I think Moe has a point when he mentions the fact that times and standards in races are dropping dramatically.
    There seems to have been a shift in recent times away from serious competitve running to far slower fancy-dress, try to get on the TV, wave to your mates as you pass them at a walking pace jog. I no doubt will get an ear bashing from some of you after saying that, perhaps deservedly. However, at the first running of the London marathon over 20 years ago, there were around 200 British athletes finishing under 2.20. This year i think there were about 4. This dropping of standards goes right down to the local race level. Commonly veteran runners, who have been running since the running boom of the late 70's/early 80's make up a considerable amount of the higher place finishers.
    Of course i applaud those that run for charity, and those who use races to keep fit without busting a gut for PB's. Although i wish as a nation we could also boast a competitve domestic competiton, which unfortunately we can't.

  • 400 runners?!

    I'd much rather run in a big even in which I was competing to finish as far up the field as possible.

    I did Nottingham and that had 10,000 and although the first three miles or so were chugged up, it opened out after that and I really enjoyed it. There was lots of crowd participation and a nice route that was closed to traffic. I can't imagine that happening with a small field of runners.

    I guess the way I feel at the moment I want to do a relatively large event without it turning into a rubber-chicken-walkathon.

    That said, I'm entering London (fingers crossed) next year and I know that I'm not going to do a PB running in that event. having said that, I'd like to do a "respectable" time.
  • Matthew - I agree that there has been a shift towards the slower fancy dress type runner. I just don't see it as necessarily a bad thing. Sure it would be nice to have more fast runners - but the fact that there aren't more fast runners is hardly the fault of the slower ones surely?

    Go-KL There are lots of really well organised mid size races in the UK. Some have road closures, some have good crowd support, some have water in bottles. Some don't. But its not as if FLM is the only marathon in which its possible to get a pb (there are over 25 other marathons in europe within two weeks either side of FLM with 2000 runners or more)

    And its certainly not as if GNR and GSR are the only pb friendly 1/2 marathon and 10 mile races in the uk! Certainly I can see why club runners enjoy doing them and I've applied for FLM myself but please don't make out that its impossible to do a pb at a smaller race.

    In the year since I took up running I've been delighted by the sense of community that our sport shares and by the warm welcome I've received wherever I've trained or raced. However, I have to say that over the last few weeks I've been dismayed by the pettyness and small-mindedness that has been displayed on these forums towards slower runners, charity runners and those just trying to enjoy themselves. (I don't mean this thread exclusively - I'm thinking particularly of a thread started about people not being allowed to walk on treadmills and a number of threads about charity places in FLM)

    I hope beginners continue to get a warm welcome here but fear that some will be put off....

  • A new runner is a good thing no matter what pace they run at, they have a goal, to improve. They are welcomed with open arms by 99% of the running community, but there is a trend for some people to enter an event, the GNR or FLM for example and 'attend' the event on the day and then go home claiming to have 'done it!', when in fact they have not, they have just got the t-shirt! They have no intention of making any attempt to push their own limits or put any great effort into it. It is no achievement at all.
  • Hello Moe

    New Runner here!.............I did the GSR, I had a grey number thingy on And started from the place I was meant to! For a first ever run in this sort of event I did 10 miles in 1hr 50, which I'm sure to all you fantastically fast peeps must be laughable. However, I was delighted to have finished it in sub 2 hrs and now have something to aim for another time.

    The atmosphere at the GSR was fab, I particularly liked running past the Samba band a couple of times and had no difficulties in getting past all the walkers that there were there- Perhaps I was only going just a tiny bit faster than them and so it presented no real problem! A few months ago I would have definitely been a walker.

    If I felt that such races were only for 'real runners' then I wouldn't have even dared to put a pair of trainers on in the summer and had a go at this running lark. Having something like the GSR to aim for has presented me with a real challenge and has got me out running 3/4 times a week when I would have otherwise have been avoiding any sort of after work exercise.

    So all of you seasoned and experienced runners spare a thought for all of us who are dead keen to have a go, but need a friendly event to go to.

    The GSR for me was just that for me. There were all sorts there and all abilities too. For me as a first time runner to run in an event where I didnt stick out like a sore thumb was very important.

    I really enjoyed the run and was delighted to be a part of such a friendly and well supported event.

    Surely for alot of us, that's what it's all about?
  • Taralotmate, Your key words are:

    "Having something like the GSR to aim for has presented me with a real challenge and has got me out running 3/4 times a week when I would have otherwise have been avoiding any sort of after work exercise.

    So all of you seasoned and experienced runners spare a thought for all of us who are dead keen to have a go, but need a friendly event to go to."

    Brilliant you are a runner (even if you walk occasionally, as I do).

    It's the 'lets do it for a laff and maybe get on the tele' brigade that cause a problem. And then even if that is the case a little common sense from all quarters would solve all the problems.
  • M: 1. For me a smaller event is a 1000 people or less. I have never run at such an event where there has been total road closure or at over a marathon distance there were drinks stations at virtually every mile, or where there were thousands of people cheering you on for large sections of the run.
    2. Sure you can get PB's at smaller events, my point was that with a little forward thinking and effective race management by organisers of large events, faster runners could get away from the start unimpeded and make the most of those races enhanced facilities to help them achieve faster times.
    As regards the clash of attitutes between some on here questioning some runners walking on treadmills/races, charity places in races etc, I believe this comes down to people here running for different reasons.
    A lot of people here seem to have taken up running fairly recently and are doing it purely for personal enjoyment. They may well have little or no interest in how the sport, as a whole, operates.
    There are however others (And I include myself here) who see running and competitive athletics (following as well as competing in) as their lifelong passion. And whilst I love to see more and more runners taking up the sport, I, and I am sure others, look a little worryingly at the continued downward trend in pure athletic achievements (E.G. in 1982 there were 200 British sub 2:20 marathon runners: Last year there were 4). There appears to be a direct correlation in this country and the USA: the more popular running becomes, the lower the top level quality gets.
    The great thing and the bad thing about running is that nearly all road races allow entry to any abilities, and that apart from the very best, there is virtually no discrimination on terms of ability to determine entry into an event.
    This is great because it allows people to savour the magical atmosphere of a running race.
    However where it lets some down, I feel, are the racers who, if they were say, footballers, may be considered as division three or conference players. If you told these players that every now and then they should give up their place in a cup match to someone who was raising money for charity, or who was curious to see what it was like, or that they had to raise £500 before they could play, they would be pretty fed up. Yet if you are a runner of comparable ability you are expected to meekly accept it and make do with lesser quality events (No disrespect to the smaller club races – we do the best with the resources available)
    Moreover, showing a concern over dwindling places for club level athletes in races over charity applications is not ‘narrow-mindedness’: it is a serious issue which has implications for the future of club level athletics.
    I started running in races twenty years ago to be competitive, and to push myself to my limits. I did not start running to raise money for charity, but increasingly it is becoming the accepted norm to get a place in the big races and you are looked at increasingly disparagingly if you do not run for charity.
    These factors and more, I believe, are the reasons why you sometimes get these ‘petty’ comments by seasoned runners. Whilst the sport of running would like to welcome you all, I feel there is an underlying sense of frustration that the route that road racing is taking in this country is taking it away from competitive racing and more towards mass participation fun-running. And whilst that may suit the likes of Runner’s World, Run For Life, FLM, Adidas, Nike etc. I have a feeling that I am losing the sport as I used to know it.

  • It's a shame that every time someone tries to make a serious point on here about the balance of club places / charity places in big races, or about striving for a less congested start to these races the accusation of narrow mindedness is thrown up.

    I won't repeat what Go-KL has said so eloquently, just endorse it.

    Re. running in a costume - obviously it makes a very difficult challenge even harder, as would trying to complete the Tour de France on a BMX or the Ironman Triathlon in a dinner jacket and tie.
  • Go-KL

    There are a large number of areas in which I am pretty sure we agree.

    I certainly agree that the decline in the competitiveness of british athletics is cause for concern. There are lots of possible reasons for this - I don't happen to think the increase of the charity runner is one of them. Just my opinion though.

    I agree that people run (or walk) for different reasons and that this is behind the clash re treadmills and charity places. I do however think its a shame that we can't live and let live on these matters. Treadmills should be for use for all whether walking or running. Entry to mass participation events should be the same. Again just my opinion.

    Please don't think that because I argue for tolerance in these areas that I don't consider myself to be a serious runner. I'm not yet very quick but I am getting quicker slowly if you see what I mean!

    BR - the tour de france on a BMX would not be appropriate - it would be like competing in the olympic marathon in a rhino costume. however anyone who completes an ironman in a dinner jacket and tie has my admiration - as have the people who recently completed triathlons in full hawaiian (sp?) costume to try and show that the sport is not just for speedy triathletes.
  • Jose.Jose. ✭✭✭
    No sport can get high standards without a popular base. And on the other way around, high standards on a sport produce popular base.

    I can compare Spain and the UK as I have one foot on each. Spain, at the moment, is one of the world class countries on road running events, with medals on every major event (world's and european's championships, no olympic's yet) since Martin Fiz was European champ in 1994 (i think).


    if you take part on a race in Spain (exceptions apart, and i think the tend is changing slowly):

    1- the number of women runners is around 10% when in the Uk is over 50%.

    2- the number of events is 40 times smaller

    3- the average number of runners per event is 40 times smaller

    4- no clubs for beginers

    Now, what is really important, a country with some high class runners, or a country enjoying the sport?.
  • Good grief. What a pompous lot some of you are! Hands up all those who were born running and therefore have a natural right to have everything their way. I am not a good runner. I am slow (10 minute) and I sound like a steam train most of the time but I enjoy it. I do not dress up. I start at the back, and stay there. I wouldn't like to run in a race where dogs were included on the same course but that's purely from a safety point of view.I don't run for a charity but I admire and support those who do. I know some holier-than-thou, nobody-has-a-right-to-do-what-I-disapprove-of bods in athletics, dancing and music (the things I enjoy most) and I don't mix with any of them.

    It isn't a quantity or quality thing either. If you don't like the way the bigger races have become, don't run them. Don't impose yourself on others who want to participate for themselves and others.
    If you want to chug along purely for fun, health and your own sense of well-bring, do it. Don't let others tell you you're not good enough. I won't.
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