Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Breakdown of Cork Athletic Clubs by size...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Breakdown of Cork Athletic Clubs by size...

At the end of May, Athletics Ireland released their current membership details based on the numbers in individual clubs. While it's interesting in itself, it's only when you extract some of the data and graph it that it becomes clearer.

Basically, I took the figures for each club and removed all of the juveniles so that I was left with adults only...i.e. those that are most likely to be taking part in some sort of road race or similar event. Now while some clubs are more track and field orientated, the majority are involved in some sort of running.

In terms of adult membership, there are 4 main clubs. Midleton AC are the largest with 188. St.Finbarrs AC based in Cork City is 2nd with 176 having shown strong growth in recent times. Bantry AC in west Cork have a very active Fit4Life programme and they are 3rd largest with 171. Bandon AC are 4th with 149 with another active Fit4Life programme.

Any club with less than 20 adult members is not shown above.


Anonymous said...

Hi John, interesting figures shown here. Given the huge amount of people showing up at road races, I would have expected to see higher numbers of club members. Most club runners seem to be involved in long distance road running, its a pity there is not a stronger interest in Track and Field.

Anonymous said...

I will be honest... As a new runner 'jogger' if you like since December! The athletics clubs have a lot of work to do if they want to increase their membership.

Not once have I seen any of the clubs handing out any literature or any information at any of the runs, and I must have done at least 10 this year including the half marathon.

Plus, and I do realise it is just my opinion, but some of the clubs do seem to have a bit of a 'youth policy' which does not really encourage the 45 something new runners to come along and join. Now don't get me wrong.... That's the future of the sport and should be encouraged, but surely there must be some room for the older plodders?

Maybe those clubs with more members do a better job of attracting that market, maybe some of the clubs don't want to attract that market? Who knows but either way....some work to be done I think??

Anonymous said...

Very interesting break down John. I'm thinking of joining one at the moment but my 1st choice which is close to where I live and that's in the bottom half of the figures are very fussy about who joins. I was told that it wouldn't be a club for me unless I can run 5miles in 30mins(which I cannot). After hearing this i said to myself that I wouldn't bother joining any club but after talking to a few members of a city club and a few nights at the track I was made feel very welcome and enjoyed running with other people of all levels. This club is in the top half with the numbers and this doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering why you decided to do this analysis John? You are basically trying to seperate the event of road running from athletics. You are trying to promote a culture of just running and road runners on their own. I don't think this is healthy or positive. You seem to be trying to compare clubs that are trying to facilitate athletes of all levels of all backgrounds and trying to set them up for criticism for doing this. Your second poster is criticising clubs that have volunteers trying to be inclusive of ALL ages and all abilities. Its easy to just focus on road runners and make money from them and be nice and comfortable just doing that but athletics as a sport overall is about self betterment and challenging you as an individual. Even if that isn't your philosophy you should surely see that its important to nurture younger athletes to ensure high standards of performance.
I wonder if all these road runners that you say are not joining athletics clubs would be willing to go beyond themselves and help with the running of an athletic club? A lot of athletics clubs don't include road runners or try to appeal to them because generally they are the ones who are least willing to help, even though they probably have the most capacity and time to do so. Some of the clubs that have the largest numbers in your graph are the clubs who do not bother with encouraging young athletes and runners. Alot of the posters on here complain about falling standards but then they are the ones unwilling to actually help with improving the clubs. If your local club isn't providing the kind of help or service that you think they should, then pitch in and help. Don't be a hurler on the ditch. Its time people who are new to the sport stopped criticising officials in clubs who have dedicated their lives to helping athletes of all ages. Some new runners seem to have an inferiority complex and then blame the clubs for promoting a competitive atmosphere. Athletics clubs aren't professional organisations that can have the best operating standards for all athletes of all abilities but they do their best. You either help out or don't go criticising those that are doing their best. Criticism is perfectly welcome from those who are trying to help and want to improve the sport in a positive and inclusive way.
If runners aren't joining athletics clubs then its generally because they are not determined enough to push themselves beyond their limits socially and be challenged by a different culture. There are plenty of clubs around, but people have to ask themselves if they are going to join a club that makes them just feel welcome or are they going to join a club that welcomes them but also challenges them to improve themselves.
I'll post this anonymously since that seems to be the general trend on this blog.

Anonymous said...

If someone wants to join a club then the onus is surely on that person to approach the club and not the other way round. This idea of handing out flyers at races to attract members is crazy. You don't see it in other sports why should athletics be any different?

Also, from that graph one of the more successful clubs in Cork and Munster particularly in cross country is almost at the bottom when it comes to the number of members. This could well be the so called "5mile/30min" club but should a club be condemned for being competitive? It is the nature of the sport afterall.

Incidentally the practice of poaching athletes from one club to another is probably of more relevance. The big clubs looking to get bigger and stronger but at what cost to the smaller clubs?

Anonymous said...

agree with one of the previous posts, I have been running for last number of years on my own and doing a lot of the local races. I have thought about maybe joining a club and googled a lot of the clubs but there is very little to entice newe runners. I am by no means very fast but would usually be in top 50 or 100, yet still feel not elite enough for the clubs. maybe its a confidence thing on my part and not a club thing, think maybe clubs should advertise more though and try and make all levels or runner welcome.

Anonymous said...

As a runner looking to join a club, I agree that people looking to join clubs need to go approach them.

However if clubs want to incresae their membership they do have to get the word out that they are looking for new members and that they are happy to accept the older plodders.

I have started to meet a fewpeople from one club, in non running circumstances and they are changing my view but the view I had was that there was no place in a running club for a semi-committed,former rugby prop, 8-8:30 minuite miler.

As for helping out. People will join a club for their own reasons, and it is not credibly to expect a new member to the club to be really involved.

I am involved in a number of other sports clubs, and we really have to push for membership. And while we are always looking for people to get more involved it takes a few years before someone will put themselves forward, but most people will help out if asked , and they are glad to do so.

Given the popularity of tunning at the moment and the number of people new to running, clubs should be able to increase their membership massivly.

A few flyers in sports shops around christmas, when all the people are buying runners to start the marathon training. Or even a few training sessions for beginner players and you could see a lot of people.

That is the type of thing the other clubs I am involved in do.

Anonymous said...

Most of the people blogging about clubs not catering for all levels of runners dont seem to know what they are talking about.A simple glance at any set of race results will show clubs with runners at all levels from first to last and all ages as well.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments and statistics and shows the gap between the new to running runners and the proud athletics club members and supporters.

I remember telling an actual athlete friend of mine the great news (for me anyway) that I had discovered running and being told that he Ran and that what I was doing was called Jogging. Definitely true by the way, but a running snob.... who'd of thought there was such a thing.

Aged 39, I was talked into running a leg of the relay at the 2010 Cork City Marathon by my 14 years younger than me brother. On the advice of my other brother I bought a good pair of shoes and set off. My only regret is that I didn't start 30 years ago.

I really enjoy it and run in nearly all of the BHAA and other local races now. I push myself fairly hard but I don't think I am ever going to run 5 miles in less than 30 minutes (unfortunately), I'm at just under 40 minutes at the moment but I always seem to find plenty others at my speed and someone to push me into a sprint at the finish (sort of). I'm starting to recognise some of the faces now so it is getting easier to know how far back to stand at the start etc.

I may still join a club but I'm torn between that and the two games of indoor soccer I normally play each week during the cold wet winter months.

Anyway, I would just like to say a big thanks to you John for the Cork Running Blog. Without it I may well have just stopped after last years relay. Great info and efforts, much appreciated.

Simon Fitz

Anonymous said...

Joining a club makes sense for runners of all abilities.I'm never fast enough to win a category prize in races, however I really enjoy both running & races. The annual club subscription inc. that payable to AAI doesn't seem too expensive in most cases. The group training is very beneficial, while you can also train on your own if you so wish. It's also encouraging when running a race to hear supporters,(many unknown to you,) shout "Come on Midleton, 'Barrs, Bandon", or whatever your club is, when they see your singlet. I've experienced this first hand in both London Marathon & Great North Run, where as you understand, very few supportes had heard of my club in Cork! I've heard the shout at nearly every race I've ran. And of course, don't forget that the entry deadline & conditions for that classic race the Ballycotton 10 are more relaxed for club members than non-members. Joining a club also means that you become part of another "family" generating a sense of belonging. My advice to anyone considering joining an athletic club is to do so immediately.

Mark K said...

John you have really stirred up a hornets nest here !!

The figures are very interesting but I feel a distinction needs to be made between;

a) Running clubs and;
b) Athletic clubs

Running clubs are fantastic in that they allow for runners of all abilities to get out there, get active and compete at different levels while enjoying themselves socially. The fit4life concept as an example is brilliant and the joy on the less compettive runners faces at every race is great to see.

Athletic clubs are the building blocks & providers of competitive action from underage to adult level. Where due to their competitive nature our best county/city/town/parish athletes are pushed to competing at higher levels. Without this competitive and elitist nature athletes will not realise their full potential and/or will switch to other sports where that competitive nature is satisfied. It also needs to realised that there is a lot more disciplines in an athletics club than running.

There is a whole lot more that can be written about this subject, especially in relation to running at underage level and schools. But I believe a distinction needs to be made and both the friendly "all rounder" club and the more elitist clubs both need to be praised and supported for the work they do.

I play rugby and would not dare step onto the same pitch as Paul O'Connell/John Hayes etc for fear that I'll never get off it alive but road running provides a unique setting where both the social and elite runners compete at the same venue and is a fantastic event because of this for various reasons and needs to praised not argued over.

Anonymous said...

a great topic of discussion,

I am involved with an athletics club. Unfortunately due to a lack of volunteers we are unable to expand the club as much as we would like. At present, the majority of the clubs committee is made up of current athletes which is not ideal.

I dont find the figures at all surprising given what the clubs at the top of the list cater for and provide for, nor do i hold any gripes as these clubs do not realistically compete competitively at Junior and Senior level on the male side in the county. The figures are primarily based on membership due to the road running boom and do not reflect the problems with our sport at juvenille and senior level (18-35yr olds).

Leevale is head and shoulders above any club in Cork, for membership accross the different athletics events especially in t&f, their ability to cater for the different disciplines in our sport is very admirable and i would only love my own club to be in a position to do the same, unfortunately we just simply do not have the volunteers available..

Road running is fantastic in that it has increased peoples interest in running and boosted numbers and as evidenced in the stats provided, it has boosted membership in a number of clubs.

I personally do not compete often on the road, as my club is more focused on inter club competitions on the track and cross country. We find it difficult to entice new runners due to the road running boom, and our clubs perceived competitveness. I ask myself do i really want 100 bodies in the club who will not compete for the club at club competitions, and the answer is; probably not.

I am interested in athletics, i want to improve and i want the athletes in my club to improve, be it on the road, cross country or t&f, but i want athletes in my club to try their hand at it all, the spirit is not there in cork athletics. There are far too many people concerned about number 1, too afraid to be shown up on the track or cross country and hiding behind the saftey of the vast numbers in road races. Why not train in a club and race cross country or t&f, it may mean the back of the field, but it is also going to be a huge catalyst in keeping juveniles in the sport when they see higher numbers compete at senior level.

Anonymous said...

from reading the various comments there seems to be a gulf between the expectations of a club member and the comments on here of a unattached road runner. I am one of the unattached road runner that would like to join a club to help me develop and get to know others in a similar position. It is obvious for various reasons clubs may want to concentrate more competitive athletics. I suppose my question is are there clubs out there that do facilitate the road runner or are we a dime a dozen? It probably isn't viable for someone like me to expect to compete in a competitive environment and I cant escape the notion that maybe clubs either resent the massive influx of avarge runners?

John Desmond said...

It would be wrong to assume that all clubs are the same. Some are more specialised and concentrate on track and field events, others have loads of road runners..from the fast to the not so fast.

Have a look at some of the race results and see what club runners are around your speed. If you are interested in joining a club then contact them and see what they have to offer you.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a classic case of horses for courses. My experience is that unless a slower than 7.30 min runner wants to be lapped, (most unlikely!), he/she has no business running cross country or middle distance track races. I've been there and believe me it's most humiliating. However, with a field of a few hundred, there's a place for road runners in most athletic clubs. There's nothing more enjoyable than running a road race on a summer evening and having a chat with friends apres-race over a well-earned cuppa. If a particular club doesn't want you due to your pace, find a club that does.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting,

I wonder is there a big demand for road runners to join clubs? Or do most road runners not want to be be part of a club.

Or could clubs generate a bit for the coffers, and maybe attract a few members by running maybe one night's training for people planning to run their first marathon. A few of the runners may even stay and get more involved in the club.

As a casual runner , planning to join a club at the end of the summer, I wonder will more casual runners start to join clubs. The Cork city marathon has been on for 5 years now, that has given people time to start running. I know s fair few people like myself looking to try to kick on and get faster, and a club seams to be the best place for that

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Very Interesting debate.
As a club member for nearly 3 years now i can honestly say that being part of a club brought my running on to a new level.

I was very sceptical when i joined the club first thinking everyone would be faster than me and i would be last. I was so wrong , there was people from every level you can imagine, all training in a big groups or splinter groups on the same pitch together, everyone having a laugh and a joke.
I thought this is great and went home very happy.

People think that Clubs are for elite runners and that they dont cater for anyone doing from 7-10 min per mile, i can honestly say that a club will bring you on.
Even if your at an age where you maybe are finding it difficult to improve , being part of a club can lift you in races as one of your previous posts reffered to about local support at races.

We have a beginners class for people who never ran a day in their lives to eventually taking on the Ballycotton 10.

Judging from some of your posts , I think some people have the wrong idea of what being part of a club is like

So i would say to those out there who are interested in joining a club come up to any club member with a singlet on find out what you need to do to join up...

Marc Dalton

Anonymous said...

I bought an interesting book last year in Matthew Gedden’s (Bandon a/c) bookshop in Kinsale, Running and Philosophy: A Marathon for the Mind, edited by Michael W. Austin, it is a series of essays on why people run. It is written by Philosophers who run or is that Runners who happen to be philosophers? It touches on the essence of this debate here, i.e. the Runner vs Jogger debate and why do we run?
In short there are many different reasons to run, so whether you join a club or not will be largely determined by your original motivation. It's is a good read.


Anonymous said...

For those who posted above who are non members of clubs - I'd been running in BHAA races, etc for a few years and was normally in the last five or six in a race but still challenged myself to try to stay under the twelve minute mile for a longer run. Then a year and a half ago I thought I'd join a club - as much for social reasons as anything. I can't speak highly enough for the club in question. They couldn't have made me feel more welcome despite my twelve minute mile pace, they have a training group within the club that run a slower pace (ie. the eight to twelve minute milers).

Obviously how were they to know that someone out there was thinking of joining them that they could come and recruit me. I went and asked for advise to people I met at races. I checked the times and locations of training sessions and that among other factors is how I chose the club and then went and joined it all on my own.
Since then when I'm training consistently for a while my pace comes down to what I consider to be a really fast nine minute mile. Most of the clubs have websites with training times on it or at least a phone number of someone you can ring to find out about the club. If you live in the county then probably your local town club is the most suitable for you. If you're in the city or near it then you have more choice. Eitherway, I would highly recommend that you join a club irrespective of your speed, running ambitions, etc. It is cheap, healthy, socialable and really worth it.