Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Looking back on 2012...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back on 2012...

Now that another year has come to a close, it's time to look back at 2012 and perhaps guess at what 2013 has in store...

Number of races in Cork....Before I started looking at the various stats, I had the impression that there were a lot more races in 2012 than 2011. In fact, the numbers were roughly the same.

The graph on the left is based on the number of posts that I have put up on the blog for race results in Cork. While I may well have missed a few, I have been reasonably consistent in putting up nearly all of the results that I can find so it's accurate enough to show trends. Note that track races are not included, just road and cross country events.

Back in 2008/2009, there were roughly 60 events per year. In 2010 and 2011, there was a rapid  expansion in the number of events so that now, there are about 90 per year. When you consider that there may be roughly one per week during the Winter months...i.e. Sundays then that leaves a lot of races in the busy months between April and August.

So where did all of these new races come from? If you were to look back say ten years ago then the bulk of events were organised by the various athletic clubs, the Cork BHAA and Ballycotton Running Promotions. What has changed in more recent years are the number of events which are organised by others. These include commercial races, charity events and non-athletic clubs.

Numbers at races.....While the number of events in Cork stayed roughly the same compared to 2011, the number of people at many events seemed to be well up. Looking back through the results, I can see examples like.....Carrigaline 5m in Feb (Up 53%), Great Island 10 mile in April (Up 53%), Ballintotis 4 mile in Apil (Up 73%), Courtmacsherry 10k in June (Up 108%) and so on. In general, it would be fair to say that the numbers were up at most events.

Athletic Clubs.....While membership at some have remained static, others have made the most of the current running boom. As outlined in a previous post, some of the larger clubs in Cork have shown strong growth and this looks likely to continue into 2013. Some of the others however have hardly grown at all despite the running boom. This may well be because they are more interested in juvenile athletes or they are not interested in getting bigger. I do however get the impression that some of the club numbers may be static because they don't make any effort to attract new members?

Cork BHAA......Looking at the many results, the BHAA had another busy year with plenty of runners taking part in their series of races. In the first half of 2012, they seemed to get a lot of criticism in the comments left on the results posts about overcrowding at the finish lines and delays in posting the results. This seems to have improved in the latter half of the year. Many people have suggested that they use chip timing or the same computer software as used for the other races organised by athletic clubs. It's worth pointing out that the BHAA have their own unique system for calculating prizes. Each registered runner has their own unique handicap grade just like in golf and the accumulated score determines what firm wins a team prize. In essence, it's a lot more complicated than most people think and it's not just a simple case of doing what the athletic clubs do. It's also worth pointing out that the BHAA races only cost €5 for registered runners, one of the cheapest entry fees anywhere. It's hard to imagine them being able to implement chip timing and keeping the entry fee so low. Haven spoken to a lot of people, I know that they are quite content to wait a few days for the results as long as the wait isn't too long.

Irish Athletics.......The performances that spring to mind for me were.....
David McCarthy winning some quality mile and 3,000m indoor races at the start of the year.
Ciarán Ó Lionáird winning the mens mile in Boston in March
Rob Heffernan finishing 4th in the 50k walk in the London Olympics in August
....and of course, Fionnuala Britton and the Irish team taking Gold at the European Cross Country Championships in Hungary in December!

Predictions for 2013........And what of the new year? What does it hold in store? Needless to say, I'll make some predictions and they'll all turn out to be wrong! ;o)

Prediction 1......If the graph up top suggests anything then I think we'll have the same number of events in 2013.....around 90 in total. I'm sure we might have a few new races coming through but perhaps a few of the races of 2012 won't be repeated either. Overall....not much change from 2012.

Prediction 2......I think 2013 will be the year that the numbers at races will peak. I have no stats to back up the prediction but the numbers have to peak at some stage, they can't keep growing forever. I find it hard to see some of the shorter distance races going from roughly 500 to up around the 800 mark. It amazing enough that new 'norm' seems to be around 300-400 whereas before, it was about 100-150. There will no doubt be a few races in 2013 that will buck the trend but I think we'll see the growth in numbers leveling off for many other events in the new year.

Prediction 3......The growth in non-athletic club races will continue. One of the other websites that maintain is the Running in Munster site where I keep results for all of the races in the province. Looking across all six counties, I can see that they are all slightly different from each other in terms of the number of races and who is organising them. What I have noticed in the last year or two is that more events are being organised for the sole purpose of raising funds rather than for the purpose of having a road race. Examples of this would be GAA clubs, soccer clubs, rugby clubs, schools, charities, etc. It also seems to be more pronounced where the athletic club structure is weak....e.g. Co.Clare. While it's more prevalent in other parts of Munster, I can see more events like this beginning to appear in Cork as well.

Blog Traffic.....Looking at the blog, it's been another busy year.

In 2011, the blog got 359,350 hits. The 2012 total will be just above 473,000, an increase of 32% (818,000 pageviews). In monthly terms, that's an increase from just under 30,000 hits per month to roughly 39,400 per month. It still remains by far, the largest running related website in Munster.

Credits for the year.....A long list! Thanks to all those of you who have contributed to the upkeep of the blog in it by means of using the donate button on the right hand side of the blog or those of you who bought items on Amazon after clicking on links for the books and watches. Every item sold generates a small commission which keeps the site going.

.........and the most common question I get asked?.......It must take ages to keep the site updated?..........and yes, it does! One of the main reasons for the blog is to have all the results and information for races in one spot. I know from experience what it's like when information is scattered across various sites with each just promoting their own events. That's why I keep a race calendar for Munster on this website and an identical version on the Running in Munster site. There are other calendars out there but none are as accurate or cover the whole province......and believe me, it's a job in itself keeping it updated!

I'd also like to thank all those photographers who took the time to takes pictures and share them with all of the John Joe of Driscoll with his photos of the races in West Cork, Ruari O'Mahony with his YouTube videos, Stephen Murphy with his photos of races in N Cork, Gearoid O'Laoi and his numerous albums and of course Doug Minihane with all of his photos at the BHAA races. I know from speaking to runners that photos are one thing they really like to see after a race. Apologies to any of the other photographers that I left out!

By the way, if anyone wants advice on how to put photos online but isn't sure how to do it then send me an e-mail.

And a final word of thanks to you the reader of this blog. For the comments that you have left during the year and the feedback that you have given on the various races.

New Years Resolutions........If there is one thing you might consider then it's to help out at a race. I have yet to hear any race organiser complain about the fact that they had too many race stewards on the day. Offer to help at one of the many local races, I'm sure they won't have any trouble finding a job for you. It's also a good way to see a race from the other side of the fence so to speak. You might be suprised to see just how much work is involved in putting on a high quality event.

Happy New Year!


Gerard said...

Well done for all the good work and Happy New Year.
As a latecomer to the world of running and clubs, it seems to me there is precious little work done by some clubs to recruit newcomers. I wonder is it a case of new blood being need at the helms of some clubs ???

Anonymous said...

I think the final thanks goes to you, for excellent service to runners. Increase in numbers, greater runner involvement and participation is in no small part due to you. Well done and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the site John. I only became aware recently of the small commission to the site for ordering through the Amazon link. All my future Amazon purchases will be through your link. Happy new year.

Anonymous said...

Hey John,
Why I feel I need to now this I not sure, Is there a specific time of the day that your blog is most busy ?

I'm a just before lights out person...(Usually)

HNY :)

Anonymous said...

Your continued promotion of races and all the details is 1 of the biggest factors in the rise in Race Numbers. We now have a single point where we can see whats happening.
Some of those races that you promote, should be eternally grateful for your work and a little donation to help the site would not de out of place.