Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thought for Food / Food for Thought...

I received the following e-mail and it concerns a subject dear to all our hearts.......the refreshments after a race ;o)

Have a read through it and see do you agree / disagree??

The standard of food on offer after races varies considerably, from nothing at all to bread and butter sandwiches, biscuits through to pastries, cakes and all you can eat.
Some of the perennial questions race organisers ask include: “How many (runners) will we get?” and “What (food) will be give them?” Neither is an easy question to answer, particularly in light of the huge rise in race entries in recent times.

However one thing has struck me in the last year or two: after many races, in spite of (apparently) plenty of fare being on offer, many runners find, after their warmdown or shower (or both), that there is little or no food left for them.

It seems to me that many races have a reputation for putting on a fine fare of afters and that these, relative to those that do not have such a reputation, draw a bigger crowd of families and other supporters.
During the past year or so, I spent a period of enforced absence from running/racing but attended races nevertheless, taking photos, and I was able to see firsthand what happens immediately after race finish at many of these family attended events.

While the runners warmdown, shower, change or do whatever it is that runners do after races, the families and supporters swoop on the fare, rapidly depleting, even exhausting stocks, leaving only the remains for the main people, the runners.

It is common to see tables of mainly, non-runners) with lots of half-eaten cakes and sandwiches in from of them, with (staving) envious runners circling tables like vultures looking for unwanted fare. Bear in mind that most runners will not have eaten for several hours before the race, while the supporters will almost certainly have had their meal beforehand.

I don’t have an answer to this, but would be interested in finding out what others think.

There are several suggestions that come to mind, but most of these involve additional manpower, which itself is always in short supply at races. Even having separate tables of food offerings for non-runners involves more manpower, control and resources.

Probably the most practical option, from the organisers viewpoint, is to hold back the ‘best wine’ until the main body of runners filters in.

What do others think? Anyone replying might consider their answer in terms of race organisation and manpower limitation.

Btw, what REALLY ‘gets on my wick’ in this regard is the very small minority of ‘interlopers’ who neither enter the race nor pay any entry fee, but nevertheless proceed to use the race facilities and eat the food on offer.

Well do you agree or disagree with the sentiments above? Is there an obvious solution?



Anonymous said...

a few things that can be done is like whats done in novartis when they mark your race no for the tshirt that to get the food you have to show your no, but in the other hand the people that do come to watch the races are there to support family, if we cut out the supporters we wount have them there any more, i for one have my wife there at every race and she knows most of the runners and they know her, to be fair should she be stopped from having a cup of tea or many like her?

John Dunphy said...

Hi John,

People who come out and support their husband's and Wife's son's and Daughter's who would begrudge them a cuppa and a sandwich afterwards fair play to them,i think the article is over exaggerated and it's offensive to the many supporter's we see at the race's keeping us going to the very end.I know a few people will read the article that support their partner's etc,etc and will feel gutted by this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

This article is spot on. It shouldn't be too difficult to hold back a few plates of sandwiches for those who actually ran the race. Another point to note is that of runners still in their shorts and singlets having the tea and sandwiches. In the interests of hygiene, can ye at least pull on a tracksuit!

john l said...

Hear Hear. I for one wouldn't be returning to a race that begrudged a supporter a cup of tea and and a biscuit or whatever was on offer. And as a point of information we all know you won't get much more than the above tea and biscuit at a Ballycotton race and yet they're amongst the best attended, most competitive and widely supported.

Gary said...

I did a warmdown after Novartis, but didn't have a shower. By the time I got in to the cafeteria, all that was left was tea/coffee/ water and few bananas. I spoke to quite a few runners who got the same.

The original poster isn't saying that spectators shouldn't get anything, but he/she does have a point.

I'm only a backmarker, so I'd like to get at least a small bit of grub, instead of usually having to leave early and then missing out on the spots.

Thomas said...

I always see food at the end of a race as a bonus, not a requirement. I also tend to leave a little bit of food (banana, cereal bar) in my car, in case I'm starving after a race.

I've got 4 little kids, and they do tend to snag a lollipop off the runners' table if it's available. I don't think anyone would begrudge them a little treat.

I have never witnessed tables full of "supporters" with half eaten cakes in front of them and starving runners circling the food for scraps. Someone might have exaggerated a wee bit, don't you think?

HungryRunner said...

some of the food should definitely be held back for a while. Obviously you wouldn't begrudge supporters a cup of tea and a sandwich but its more to do with the fact that it'll come down to a choice between giving it to the hungry fasted runner or the supporter who might have had plenty chance to eat before they came out to watch or eat on the way. The supporter could get a bit when all the athletes have obviously gone through but not before. Its good to write this article just to put it in peoples minds.
It used to be an unwritten rule at races that the food was for the athletes only but obviously that got casually forgotten. Maybe this will restore some awareness that some of the athletes and its usually the more serious or elites that miss out on the complimentary food after they have finished their warm downs.
People shouldn't be so easily offended when the article is just about making sure there is fair treatment at races.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, it is a simple case of manners, whether you are a runner or not. If you are going to be a vulture and grab all you can, then this is unacceptable whether you have run the race or not. I am ravenous after every race, but I have no problem tossing a snack into the car for afterwards, just in case I don't get any refreshments. We need our family and friends there,they often suffer more in the bad weather, it's easier to be moving than standing around in the rain! Any supporters that have come with me have always been quite reluctant to take anything other than a cup of tea, because they haven't paid, so like I said already, if everyone shows manners and courtesy and just take a little, we can all go home satisfied!

Unknown said...

Its like everything else in life , some people take the piss . And it ruins it for everybody . I see people eating 3 and 4 sandwiches after the Novartis race . And kids taking a bite out of a BLT sandwich and leaving the rest after them . Its a pity because the atmosphere is great . But if people carry on like this it will end .

Anonymous said...

I know it's the 'silly season'... But that rant takes the 'biscuit' :)

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
My post certainly hit a raw nerve with some people! It look like the 'jury' so far is split about even.

However, with one or two exceptions, nobody has attempted to answer the question behind the oringinal post: How to ensure that those who ran in the race get a reasonable portion of the fare on offer, rather than (debatably) the remains.

It was never even remotely suggested in the original post that supporters get nothing - if you thought otherwise (several posters obviously did), read the original post again.

Supporters are to be welcomed at all races - a race without supporters is a pretty dead event, but there has to be a bit of balance.

The matter has reached a scale that at least one of the Running Organisations in Cork has debated the matter, without resolution.

So.....I'll ask the question in a more straight-forward manner. How can race organisers ensure an equitable distribution of food, without stretching an already acute shortage of manpower and resources?

Anonymous said...

Now you know what you have done to what is supposed to be an enjoyable family occasion supporters are going to be paranoied about taking a sandwich and or cake off the table in future,would you like to see what one of our races is like without the supporters,when you were supporting the races did you wait until the last runner came back from their warmdown before you had your refreshments???

John Dunphy said...

In reference to comment 11,I have come up with the answer to your question,i intend to go round to all the supporters and recommend to them that they bring their own flask of tea and some sandwiches to the races and let them know that Tesco are doing some great offers on biscuits,that way all the runners will have plenty of everything to go around after they warm down or shower so there will be no rush to get back to the hall cause there will be loads of goodies available, all the supporters will eat and drink their own stuff at each race and leave the rest for us,Problem solved.Do you honestly think that race organisers are going to try and resolve this issue when they have more important things to do like making sure they have enough stewards,getting the course ready for the race,parking which can be a huge undertaken at venues that have very little spaces,registering runners for the race trying to get the race started on time,get the runners around the course safely,doing results for the race winners and category winners for the prizes on the night etc etc,Ya i think they could be forgiven if supporter's are taking the biscuit before the runner's get back to the hall.Runner's,supporters please just think of others and hopefully there will be enough to go around for all.

On that note I'm off for a cuppa and a biscuit.

Richard said...

In my mind there are 3 or 4 distinct groups of people who should be identified:

1. Runners who finish the race and go straight home - the majority of people.

2. Runners who finish the race, have a cup of tea and a sandwich in their running gear and then go home and shower at home.

3. Runners who finish the race, have a warm down, have a shower and then end up fretting about the lack of food. I would guess (with no factual back-up) that these are the people who are most familiar with the running scene and have been around the longest. They may have (and again, I am guessing)some resistance to the influx of new novice runners.

We have seen guest posts previously berating the overcrowding at finishes and the lack of competitive times in the Ballycotton 10. This post is another one of these posts. The good old days of hardcore running and runners seem to be hard to let go.

4. family members who have to hang around while we indulgence in our OCD running hobby. I seriously doubt that they are gorging themselves on Madeira cake and ham sandwiches.

My two cents worth is that group 2 (to whom I belong) are growing in size and they are the culprits that group 3 (the group the original poster seems to belongs to)are suffering because of this. Group 1 runners (the go straight home ones) are more likely to join the group 2 people but the leap into the group 3 is harder (older runners, club runners, elite runners).

Just one more thing:

What is so unhygienic about eating a sandwich and drinking a cup of tea in a running vest and shorts? The volunteers are very careful about plating up all food.

Kate said...

I suggest that finishers be given vouchers/tickets at the end of the tunnel. Anyone without a ticket would then be given a cup of tea and biscuits.

This discussion reminds me of the situation in Mount Mellary years ago. The monks used to give free teas to travellers. Unfortunately bus tour operators used to prey on this and offer "Mystery Tours, with free tea." There was no mystery - they all ended up in Mount Mellary and the free teas ended.

Sandwiches and cakes are not free and cost race organisers quite a few quid. So some people expect to enter a race for what, a fiver, and get a prize, maybe a teeshirt, get fed and have their entourage fed as well!

People need to get real. If this continues either the food will stop or entry fees will have to go up. There's no such thing as a free lunch!

Mick said...

I have the perfect solution - charge everyone, runner or spectator, a euro or two per person for their food and give the proceeds to charity. I don't think anyone would begrudge donating to charity.

Problem solved, no matter which side of the fence you sit on!

Anonymous said...

I, too, think it's not on when I get to the hall after a race and there's nothing left but scraps. How can one justify spectators eating a plateful of sandwiches when they've probably had their dinner not two hours before? Sometimes runners will not have eaten for 1-2 hours before a race so by the time they've raced, warmed down, got changed etc, they are starving hungry!

Would a simple solution be to dish out tea and coffee to everyone, but food can only be given to runners producing a race number? On no account should kids be allowed to take any food, as one poster has already commented, a child will take a bite out of a sandwich and then just dump it! Many times I've seen kids with plates of food, it should be stopped!

By the way, at the UCC 10k there WAS piles and piles of food sitting on tables that had been left by people - an absolute disgrace!

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous! A true running enthusiast should be more concerned with his/her running rather than the refreshments or lack thereof afterwards.

I wouldn't care if there wasn't a morcel available afterwards once I put in a good performance. No wonder numbers are up but standards are down!

Anonymous said...

If organisers could arrange seperate table for runners, ie have a general table for Tea & Biscuits for supporters to have a cuppa as I would see no major cost to the organisers in giving the supporters a cup of tea and a biscuit. However, there is a cost in providing sandwiches, Cakes etc and to ensure it is the runners that receive the substantial food maybe set up a seperate table for runners only where they can present their entry numbers & receive their food. At least this would ensure that the runners regardless of whether they are first or last in for food they are guaranteed something decent.

Anonymous said...

All I want to say is that there were custard slices at Phizers and I didn't get one! As I ran the race, albeit slowly, not being anywhere near the elite athletes, but rather a red faced plodder, I thought a custard slice would have been a nice reward at the end. There were loads of non runners with plates of half eaten cakes. No bother letting everyone join in but I really would have liked a custard slice! Then again, go into any shop with your fiver and will you get tea,sandwiches, marble cake ( where do you get that? - I've looked a few times but failed to get it!) and biscuits? The idea of a separate supporters table with tea, coffee and biscuits doesn't sound bad - it will still involve the supporters in the social side of the apres race but leave custard slices for the slow runners who are finishing long after the winners have done thier 20k cool down and showered. As long as I get my custard slice.....!

Anonymous said...

All these comments have all got some good points for and against.

I'd just like to say , Does it really cost the likes of the BHAA alot of money to put on a spread of food afterwards.
I dont think so . If they are getting a fiver off every runner , just do the maths . Nearly all BHAA races have nearly 400 runners running . Thats almost 2000 euros .

Where does all the money go?????
Is the question i'd like to ask.

Surely not all on food otherwise there would'nt be this debate.

Anonymous said...

"Where does all the money go?????
Is the question i'd like to ask."

Do you honestly think the BHAA are making a profit? I dont think so. If they are then I'm sure it gets invested back into races.

I think we should be grateful that we live in a time where we can enter a professionally run race on the day and only pay €5. Anything else is a bonus.

Cáit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

For many of whom Richard describes as "group 2", the cuppa afterwards and the chat is as much of an attraction as the run. The social aspect of road runs is an appeal for many.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. Stop the supporters and children having a cake, grow up. Firstly some of the supporters are injured runners, some are runners minding children while their partners are running and some are out clapping and cheering on the runners, giving them encouragement.
Secondly don't you want to encourage children to be at these events and enjoy them so that someday with postive memories, they may join the running scene and maybe become the next Sonia or Derval or just be active and healthy. I am involved in other sports and we encourage our families and children to support and get involved, we would gladly give a cake to have those number of people at our matches and events. As if things aren't tough enough at the moment we want to begrudge people having a sandwich?????
Anyway if you are that serious a runner, "one of the elites" do you really eat a creamy cake ?

This is a fantastic site and over the last couple of years has given a very poor runner great help and encouragement to try and stay fit and healthy please don't let it turn into a blog for Dinosaurs who want to have a rant.

PS remember todays children could, with the right guidence, be tomorrows runners.

Unknown said...

"In the interests of hygiene, can ye at least pull on a tracksuit!"

Relax a small bit...we're hardly dripping sweat onto piles of food.

On the rare occassion I go to have a bite to eat, I pick up a bottle of water, a biscuit and maybe a banana or a sandwich.

I head to the car or chat for a few minutes with other runners.
To say that I'm unhygienic is a little bit over the top!

And even those runners who remain in the room for longer periods haveing their "tean and sandwiches"...who cares? It is a race night after all, you're not going to catch anything off them!

Shane said...

I think the only solution is an age limit on spectators............from the lack of biscuits at the finish its obviously those pesky kids.

I also think that there should be a limit on the time people get to sit on seats in the various halls. There's nothing worse than watching someone sitting down smugly eating a custard creme while I'm standing up trying to eat my egg and cucumber sandwich.

In all seriousness though, there's a really great and inclusive running scene in Cork. it would be a shame to spoil it with anymore of this nonsense.

Unknown said...

My god go away and get a life. I never eat for hours bofore the races or I would be dodging in behind ditches. I do not eat wheat not because I am a coeliac but because I am a bit of a health freak and do not think anyone should be eating it.I dont drink tea either so the supporters are welcome to my share. Really who cares. A couple of sandwiches and biscuits do you not have food at home. I am sure no one will starve!! Get over it

Anonymous said...

Yippee!! A bun-fight!! I love a good bun-fight!

What’s the problem? The food is FREE! Free, free, free. Costs nothing, so what’s the harm? Give loads of goodies to everyone. – it’s free!

Seriously (don’t make me laugh!), the races are expensive enough, so we deserve to be fed. My wife and kids enjoyed their doughnuts the other night. I even brought some home to have with my lunch yesterday. Did you see the amount of food they threw out on Wed? Why waste it? It’s free and, anyway we paid for it in our entry fees. Anyway, as one of the other posters pointed out, race organisers are cleaning up, especially with the huge numbers now entering races.

Roll on the PTAA 5k. Free cake and lots of soft drinks for the kids! Free! Free! Free!

Anonymous said...

Why put this topic for discussion ?
I believe that family supporters do not attend the races to eat the food , on the contrary they are there to support their partners,father,mother brother sister,etc Putting this topic up for discussion may see a withdrawl of support.Is this what we want ?

Personally i travel to the races to race and better my times-not worrying about kids eating food..

The recession isn't that bad !!!

And the big question where does the money go ??

Anonymous said...

Is this guy buying the food or what?.why or what in gods name was he doing watching people eat food. weird i think-as for additional man power for one of his brain waves i think he can scrap that after this,'they will be in short supply' like the food is it ? as one person commented already - why put this up for a debate.some things are worth discussing like
Starting the races on time..
not hanging around for hours after a race for prize giving..(starving..)