Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Issues with the Cork Womens Mini-Marathon...
I got this e-mail some time back from Sally Drennan of Midleton outlining her concerns with regard to this years Cork Women's Mini-Marathon. I held off posting it here until the East Cork 3k results were out of the way as I wanted to keep it prominent near the top of the page for a while.


I just thought it would be interesting to use this great blog as a forum to air my opinion on a few issues relating to the Cork Women’s Mini Marathon. My main problem is the annual chaos at the start with regard to the elite runners. For all of the mini marathons in which I have taken part (the last four years), there has been confusion about where elite runners should start. In my ignorance the first time I ran it, I did as everyone was being told over the loudspeaker to do and lined up behind the starting line with the rest of the field and then realised that I had lost at least 50 metres as dozens of runners had started before the gun went off. I have become wiser and for the past couple of years it has been possible to legitimately squeeze past a barrier and get straight to the front with the other club runners and runners hoping for a good time.
However this year, about half an hour before the start I was told by several different officials that there would not be a separate area for elite runners this year. So, I cut my warm up short (in fact I didn’t really warm up at all). Instead I struggled and pushed my way through the crowds of women, children (and men!) lining up behind the start. Needless to say my pushiness wasn’t welcomed by all the other runners/walkers who didn’t see why they should let me through. Eventually I made it to the front only to discover that plenty of runners (with thicker necks than me?) had managed to avoid the crowds and were happily warming up in front of us. There were other good runners penned in with me and eventually against the will of the stewards guarding the barrier we climbed over and managed to join the other runners, but at this stage it was too late for a warm up. Shortly before the start they let everyone out into the starting area.

What I can’t understand is why in Cork (as in Dublin and I believe Limerick), we cannot have a limited number of serious runners allowed to start safely at the front out of the way of the crowds. I am concerned primarily about the safety of having walkers, children and even dogs allowed to start with the fastest runners in the race. Also, the unfairness of runners being treated differently according to which steward they ask or how much they beg is really not acceptable. I think it is time that this race was treated like what it is advertised to be “The premier 4 mile road race in Munster”, although, one more thing, it is actually a good bit short of 4 miles!........Sally Drennan, Midleton AC.

Since Sally sent me her article, I have found out that the course is almost certainly not 4.0 miles in lenght. In fact, it probably is closer to 3.9 miles, about 170 metres short. Considering that crowd safety is a major issue, I really can't see the organisers changing that as I presume they have selected the start/finish points to keep people away from the public roads that are open.
However, the start seems to be a major issue and others have mentioned it to me as well. I know it is a fun event for 95% of those taking part but some are there to race. It really is not acceptable for elite runners to have to push & shove and climb over safety barriers to get to the front of the race.........John Desmond

Comments......??????
"I agree with Sally, it was absolute chaos at the start. I do a lot of running and was hoping to get out quick and get a fast time, but instead of warming up I spent half an hour before the race being pushed and elbowed by many frustrated runners............Anonymous"
"I would like to comment on the women’s mini marathon. It is a WOMENs minimarathon – why have a MAN djing, a MAN from the city council and a MAN from the echo. I found it completely patriarchal and condescending. As for the start line – surely they could make the first 1000 numbers available to club members/ people who have completed races during the summer or some other factors. .........Anonymous"
"My comment in relation to the confusion at the start is that next year on the application form, there should be a section for recording your club name, if applicable. I think then that all club runners should get a band with their number or be allocated numbers (1-50) and be allowed enter the elite start. I think that would be the fairest.......Rhona Lynch, Eagle AC"
"I agree with Sally, there was alot of confusion at the start of the race. I got a call from my sister to say that there was no elite start this year so to make my way to the start immediately. My car was parked at the the atlantic pond so I ran in a panic to the start at 12.25. I accessed the start from central park road and on my way saw some of the elite runners only starting a warm up with full tracksuits on. I was in my shorts at this stage so felt that this was unfair - was there an elite start or not. As I approached the starting line I met a number of club runners very stressed and angry regarding the start. There were close on 10000 people at the start of the race behind a barrier - if you are going to race the 4 miles (3.9), you need to warm up and keep warm until as close as possible to the race start time. I don't want to be taking from the fantastic job that all the volunteers did to make this a great event but something needs to be done about the start for next year. I have already posted my suggestion. - Rhona Lynch (Eagle AC)"
"I am wondering how one would categorise themselves as "elite"? Was there a space on the form for club name , or a check box for "Elite"? If there was, then the organisers should have done something about it, if not, then you have to take it on the chin I'm afraid. The Mini marathon is a HUGE fundraising event, and (my opinion here) probably over 90% of people there are fun runners, walkers, men dressed as wimmen etc. There is only a few people (200-300) there to actually race. In the grand scheme of things they probably don't really care about the racers, only about the numbers and the logistics of getting 10,000 people around the course safely.
Was there any running club involvement with the mini-marathon? If there was, then they could suggest, as other posters have, of a pen for the "serious" racers, which they enter via a wrist band or similar. Maybe one way of disuading "non serious" runners from the serious runners, is to have a higher entry fee (say 15 ) for the racers and the 12 for the fun runners. Would you pay the premium to be in the front pen? Just a thought......Rich"
"For the past few years, I have been trying to persuade the Co. Board to facilitate the runners but, to date, have been unsuccessful. The Board has a mammoth task in organising the event, on a totally voluntary basis, with many giving an absolutely HUGE amont of their time to the event, over weeks and even months.
Nevertheless the event has lost its attraction for very many club runners. Year on year, it attracts less and less club runners. This year was the worst to date for facilitating runners.
In advance of the event, pleas to the Co Board to have an elite start or a runners start went unheard. "They'll just have to get there early! At least one hour before the start!" was the response.
If the event is to be just a charity walk, then so be it. If it is to remain as a race, then the runners MUST be facilitated. I have stewarded the event for about 10 years and have noticed a change in numbers running (as opposed to walking) in the past 4 years. In the last 5 mile event, I reckon about 120 ran. When it changed to the Marina, numbers started to go up and last year saw a big jump in runners, I reckon about 500 ran. this year the change was massive - something like 2,000 ran. Only 100 of them had their times recorded!
Two changes MUST be made to make the event attractive to club runners: 1 A separate start area, or corral, for runners, with an elite warm-up area. 2. Finish times be taken for at least anyone under 45 to 50 minutes.
Whats the point of having a race where runners aren't permitted to warm-up before the race, run (impeded by walkers, including organised groups-en masse, buggies, dogs (some walkers had several dogs on leads) (BTW, no race anywhere permits (on safety grounds) dogs)
Rich raises the question of club involvement. The event is organised by the Cork AAI County Board, it follows that clubs are involved through the Board. In any case the event is stewarded by club volunteers. As regards charging runners extra to run in a road race as opposed to walking?????
There is a very strong undercurrent of discontent with the event among club runners. This will have to be addressed by the Co Board. It is a shame that the event is now such that, even though the numbers taking part are at an all time high, the number of AAI registered runners continues to fall...........John Quigley, Eagle AC"
"I couldn’t have put it better myself Sally, I whole hearty agree with everything you said. A cattle mart with people pushing and shoving would describe it mildly!!! I was in the exact same situation as you last year, but this year I was as cute as a fox and knew exactly what to do.
Also could I take this opportunity to say the Limerick LADIES mini-marathon was a joke! Let me stress the word LADIES again! There was so many men in this race, us girls didn’t have a chance! Myself and my friends trained hard all Summer to reach the top 100, but the results list complied of so many guys names who had registered as girls (eg. Paul to a Pauline) we didn’t have a hope in hell. I fully understand this is a charity run and the drags provided great entertainment for spectators, but for us it was a girls race and we wanted to do well. There are plenty of other races for guys to participate in, give us poor girls a chance!!!
Simple solution for the organisers: Hold a MENS mini-marathon next year, especially if the guys feel so passionate about running with the ladies and dressing up as drags!!!! I can guarantee you there would be no shoving and acres of space for elite runners.
If I’m fit and strong enough next year I’ll be heading down to Cork to do Cork-Cobh 15 miles which was held on the same day.
By the way Sally, if you thought things were bad in Cork, the Limerick race was ten times worse with roughly only a third of the crowd............Anonymous"
"I think it a a health hazard for a club runner to run the mini marathon. I know of a serious and well known club runner who is out of action for some time to come due to being bumped just as the gun went off. Nobody has given a reason as to why they can't have an elite start for the racers.......Why can't we get a statement from the organisers? Its my opinion that if they take away the elite start, it's the beginning of the end for the mini marathon........Anonymous"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sally, it was absolute chaos at the start. i do a lot of running and was hoping to get out quick and get a fast time, but instead of warming up i spent half an hour before the race being pushed and elbowed by many frustrated runners.

Rich said...

DISCLOSURE - I am a Male.

I am wondering how one would categorise themselves as "elite". Was there a space on the form for club name , or a check box for "Elite". If there was, then the organisers should have done something about it, if not, then you have to take it on the chin I'm afraid. The Mini marathon is a HUGE fundraising event, and (my opinion here) probably over 90% of people there are fun runners, walkers, men dressed as wimmen etc. There is only a few people (200-300)there to actually race. In the grand scheme of things they probably dont really care about the racers, only about the numbers and the logistics of getting 10,000 people around the course safely.

Was there any running club involvement with the mini-marathon? If there was, then they could suggest, as other posters have, of a pen for the "serious" racers, which they enter via a wrist band or similar.
Maybe one way of disuading "non serious" runners from the serious runners, is to have a higher entry fee (say 15 ) for the racers and the 12 for the fun runners. Would you pay the premium to be in the front pen?

Just a thought.

John Quigley said...

For the past few years, I have been trying to persuade the Co. Board to facilitate the runners but, to date, have been unsuccessful. The Board has a mammoth task in organising the event, on a totally voluntary basis, with many giving an absolutely HUGE amont of their time to the event, over weeks and even months.

Nevertheless the event has lost its attraction for very many club runners. Year on year, it attracts less and less club runners. This year was the worst to date for facilitating runners.

In advance of the event, pleas to the Co Board to have an elite start or a runners start went unheard. "They'll just have to get there early! At least one hour before the start!" was the response.

If the event is to be just a charity walk, then so be it. If it is to remain as a race, then the runners MUST be facilitated. I have stewarded the event for about 10 years and have noticed a change in numbers running (as opposed to walking) in the past 4 years. In the last 5 mile event, I reckon about 120 ran. When it changed to the Marina, numbers started to go up and last year saw a big jump in runners, I reckon about 500 ran. this year the change was massive - something like 2000 ran. Only 100 of them had their times recorded!

Two changes MUST be made to make the event attractive to club runners:
1 A separate start area, or corral, for runners, with an elite warm-up area.
2. Finish times be taken for at least anyone under 45 to 50 minutes.

Whats the point of having a race where runners aren't permitted to warm-up before the race, run (impeded by walkers, including organised groups-en masse, buggies, dogs (some walkers had several dogs on leads) (BTW, no race anywhere permits (on safety grounds) dogs)

Rich raises the question of club involvement. The event is organised by the Cork AAI County Board, it follows that clubs are involved through the Board. In any case the event is stewarded by club volunteers. As regards charging runners extra to run in a road race as opposed to walking?????

There is a very strong undercurrent of discontent with the event among club runners. this will have to be addressed by the Co Board. It is a shame that the event is now such that, even though the numbers takin part are at an all time high, the number of AAI registered runners continues to fall.

Anonymous said...

I think it a a health hazard for a club runner to run the mini marathon. I know of a serious and well known clubrunner who is out of action for some time to come due to being bumped just as the gun went off.
Nobody had given a reason as to why they can't have an elete start for the racers.......
Why can't we get a statement from the organisers?
Its my opinion that if they take away the elete start its the beginning of the end for the mini marathon.