Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Should the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in Dublin be the National Championships???

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Should the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in Dublin be the National Championships???

The Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half-Marathon is coming up on Bank Holiday Monday, the 5th of August. This is a new event in Ireland and differs from the usual Half-Marathon in that it has live music every mile and at the finish line.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series is organised by an American commercial company which organises events in 26 North American cities and in various European cities each year.

This year, Athletics Ireland have decided to make the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon the National Half-Marathon Championships. Up until the 1st of July, the entry fee for members of Athletic Clubs was €25 while non-members had to pay €49 up until the 29th of July. Anyone wishing to enter now can do so at the Expo for €55.

Background to the National Half-Marathon.....This has been organised with varying degrees of success over the last 15 years...

As you can see over the last decade, the events that are near population centres tend to be the ones that have attracted the largest crowds which is probably no great suprise.

In 2011 and 2012, the entry fee for the National Half-Marathon was €20 and both started at 1pm. This allowed plenty of time for people to travel to the event.

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half-Marathon.....It's likely that this event is sure to attract a very large field, almost certainly well up in the thousands. According to Athletics Ireland, there have been approximately 6,000 entries of which 700 were club runners. Considering it's international branding, there should be a large number of overseas visitors as well which is probably no bad thing as it brings tourists into the country. No doubt for many, this type of Half-Marathon with music at every mile will be major reason for entering.

Considering that the race starts at 8:30am then it will most likely mean that most people taking part from around the country will have to stay in Dublin overnight. Add in the traveling expenses and it soon becomes a very expensive Half-Marathon.

It would be fair to say that some club runners do not agree with the decision of Athletics Ireland to use the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon as the National Championships.

Opinion.....This was sent to me by e-mail by a visitor to the site from the West of Ireland...

In my opinion the National half should be a stand-alone event. Surely it is not impossible for Athletics Ireland to organise a half marathon themselves---with the help of the many clubs and individuals who are well able to organise decent races and keep ALL the profits here for the promotion of the sport at both elite and grassroots level.

I am not at all happy with this as I feel that Athletics Ireland has sold out to a commercial group. I have no problem with some group organising a race and charging high entry fees---people have the choice to take part if they wish. But this is a step too far!!

I have a number of issues with the decision:
1) The winners of a national champion event should get their moment of glory by being first across the line.
2) All the profits should be ploughed back into the sport.
3) Why wasn't an Irish club asked to take on the event?
4) It is claimed that the event lost money in the past. The answer to that is to market it better---a field of 700 with no prize money (just medals)---profit could be €10,000.
5) Originally the entry fee started at €46 (rising to €55) with a derisory €2 discount for AI members. This has now been changed to €25 for AI members.

If it stays this way then the three National Championship road-racing events (10k, Half-Marathon and Marathon) will all be held in Dublin and be part of bigger races.

Last year, I had a post on the blog about how hardly any club athletes from Cork and most of Munster took part in the 2012 Half-Marathon Championships in Athenry in Galway. The main reasons for this were probably....1) Too far to travel..i.e. time and expense..... 2) Plenty of other Half-Marathons locally to choose from..... 3) The National Half is mainly of interest to elite athletes...for everyone else, it's just a local race.

With the Rock 'n' Roll race now becoming the National Half-Marathon, will it mainly attract club athletes in or near the capital in years to come?...a bit like the Great Ireland Run in the Phoenix Park.

Some questions...
1) Do you think the National Half-Marathon should stay in Dublin or move around the country like it did in the past?
2) Do you agree with the person from the West of Ireland that a commercial Half-Marathon should not be the National Half-Marathon Championships?
3) If you are from Cork or Munster, are you going to this event and why?

Comments? Click on the link below...


Anonymous said...

1 All National Champs should be moved around the Country. X Country, Road and Track.

2 AAI champs should be run on their own. What will happen if two Kenyans win the overall races the focus will all be on them like it is for the Dublin Marathon.

3 Plenty of races at home in Cork where i can be outclassed why travel to Dublin for it.

Anonymous said...

The application was actually sent out to club secretaries for the All-Ireland Half Marathon Championships.

Gerard said...

I wasn't really aware of this event but was aware of the Clonmel half which I have entered.
Why is it on a bank holiday monday ?Why not the sun ? they are as bad as the organisers of Cork;s marathon in this respect.
I have no idea what AI does, so it doesn't bother me what they do. € 50 for a half marathon is a complete rip off so, on principle, I wouldnt enter it even though I would qualify for the € 25 fee.

Anonymous said...

I will be running on Monday and looking forward to it. As a club runner who would never have a chance of any kind of prize, I entered as an AAI member with the comfort of knowing that I wont be tagging onto the end of a National AAI event, indeed I would never enter the Nation Half Marathon as I would feel inadequate in such a field and would feel out of my depth. I have attended a Rock n Roll event already this year and found it to be great with a great atmosphere. I take on board the comments above, lets give this a chance and see how it goes, fingers crossed for Monday.

Anonymous said...

Travelling tomorrow as part of club team but wouldn't have entered otherwise.

The fact that people travelling for the event need to be there well before 5pm the day before to pick up race packs etc. smacks of a rip-off. Are the organisers also getting a cut from local hotels and restaurants?

The €25 entries finished at the end of June, more than a month before the event. After that, it went up to €55, even for AAI members. This didn't happen in previous years - clubs had till a couple of weeks beforehand to enter their athletes at reasonable cost. Very often clubs will pay entry fees for championship events (ours did) so this is an additional cost to AAI clubs.

Waterford AC did a great job of hosting this event a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

A new low for running- to be calling this a national championship race.

Anonymous said...

I think its good that AAI are trying something different. The cost is a factor to consider in this but you pay for what you get (t-shirt, medal, road closures policed by paid Gardai and Marshalls). If you were serious about running the AAI Half Champs you would have gotten the entry for 25 euro in time... and that would have been very good value.

Getting the chance to run through the capital on big wide roads which are closed in a very big and competitive race is great. Our top Irish runners don't get many chances to run fast times in Ireland in a competitive field. How many half-marathons in Ireland offer them the chance to be really competitive over a fast course?

It is very conducive to competitive club running to organise a race in this way but hopefully the competitive side won't be lost in the bells and whistles of the race.
Running in the middle of the day could have been disastrous if we had the near 30 degree temperature of past couple of weeks so the time is good for the time of year despite the accomodation required due to having to travel up. Athletes were clearly traumatised in the heat after last years AAI Half in Athenry ran over a very undulating course.

It would be great if the Cork/Munster Half Marathon was run over a flat course through Cork city. Why don't St. Finbarrs go to the effort of organising a good competitive race like the Rock n Roll Half with a good flat course and competitive race through the city?
Then they could bid for the AAI Half Champs against the Rock n Roll Half???

Some of the above posts seem to be forgetting that the AAI Half needs to be conducive to fast competitive running. Not just allow club/recreational runners to run over a course against one another in a very low key non-competitive way to set a time over a random course somewhere in the country.

Top/club runners haven't travelled to the AAI Half Marathon because often there was very little to race for either competitively or in terms of a good course or in terms of good prize money. How many half marathons can you say offer
1. Good fast course
2. Good competition at
3. Good time of the day
4. with Good prize money????

The falling standards of performance are often discussed on here but it seems that there isn't the willingness to do the things required to organise competitive races.

Well done AAI for trying something different and maybe John you can do an analysis to see how many club runners ran sub 80 or 90 in this event compared to previous AAI Halfs?

Is the competitiveness of the event not important?

Anonymous said...

Disgrace. So many running clubs in Ireland host a half-marathon. It should not be held in conjuction with a COMMERCIAL marathon. The hosting of a half marathon National would be a prestigous event for any club.

John Quigley said...

Do you think the National Half-Marathon should stay in Dublin or move around the country like it did in the past?
In principle, National Championships should rotate around the country, as it has up to now. This gives everyone an opportunity to participate. Clearly the Dublin region would be taken in periodically.

Do you agree with the person from the West of Ireland that a commercial Half-Marathon should not be the National Half-Marathon Championships?
Athletics Ireland appears to have “got into bed” with the idea of commercial races, being involved with several in the past few months. This, in my view, is very short sighted, with little return to the athletes, or athletics in general. Sure, participants may get an enjoyable race, but at what price?

These races generally provide little in terms of prizes. According to the website, there were a total of 8 prizes on offer today; 3 men’s and 3 women’s, with an additional overseas prize (€100) for both men and women – a total prize fund of €2,000. This is about the same as the prize fund for any decent club race, in which the same fund would be spread wider, including masters.

According to media reports, there were 6,500 finishers. Allowing the usual 10% dropout rate, this gives approx. 7,250 entries @ €45 (ok there were early bird & AI entries) This gives a total entry fund of approx. €325,000. Expenses for an event of this type, more so in Dublin, are pretty high, nevertheless a prizefund of approx. 0.6% is pretty dismal.

One aspect that I find exasperating, is that this is promoted as a Charity race, with a “charity partner”. This is something that is happening more and more in Ireland and is particularly associated with commercial races – stick a charity logo on the race website, and list a charity as a “partner”.

Delve a little deeper, and you’ll find that the “partner” gets no benefit from the race proceeds – the participants are expected to raise all the funds and deal directly with the charity. In contrast, quite a few club races provide genuine charity partnerships, with maybe 50% of the entry fee going to charity.

Considering the entry price, and hype, I would have thought, particularly considering the AI involvement, that this would have been an AIMS registered race, which would have allowed people to qualify for some Marathons, including New York.

My overall view of the Commercial Races is that they are thrashing club races “hands down” in terms of “slick marketing”, nevertheless club races provide far better quality races in terms of both quality and value for money – anyone thinking of doing “De Barr’s Half”?? …enough said! – quality race, well organised, well priced….and the proceeds are channeled back into the sport

If you are from Cork or Munster, are you going to this event and why?
No. My club intended going but the early start, 8:30, meant an overnight as well, so we decided against sending teams. It turned out that you needed to register on the Sat or Sunday anyway. This set-up makes it expensive for provincial clubs, while being pretty painless for clubs in the Dublin region.

Anonymous said...

As a stand alone event, The Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon was a great addition to the running calendar.
In particular, the staff of the brand could not have been more helpul.

On the other hand, The AAI made a complete and utter mess of their involvement.
Entries were confused, refunds promised di not materialise and the attitude of some of their staff was, to say the least, unhelpful.

The AAI clearly opted for the 'easy' piggy back route. It backfired.

The role of the Association is, I assume, to serve its members. If this is true, they failed.

Next year, the National Half Marathon should be supported, driven and worked on by the AAI.
The 'easy' route did more harm than good to what ought to be a significant national event.

Hopefully the AAI will learn from this and try just a little harder next year. After all, isn't that their purpose?