Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Interview with the organisers of the 2014 Bay Run Half-Marathon & 10k

Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview with the organisers of the 2014 Bay Run Half-Marathon & 10k

The Bay Run Half-Marathon from Glengarriff to Bantry started in 2007 and has attracted a large number of runners to West Cork every year. In 2013, the previous organisers announced their intention to end the event but the Maritime Hotel in Bantry have now taken it over. To clarify what the current situation is with the Bay Run and what changes are being implemented, I asked the new organisers a series of questions. This is especially pertinent as it has now gone from being a commercial event to one raising funds for the local Bantry hospice.

Q. Hi James, as an introduction to the readers of the Running in Cork blog, can you tell them a small bit about yourself?
Certainly John but I hope this won't put them to sleep - well I’m 33 years of age, father of 2 girls and husband to beautiful wife Laura. I have worked in Leisure and hospitality for the past 10 years starting out in the Kingsley Hotel and working in other 4 / 5 star properties around Cork City and County. As a keen runner, I have run 2 marathons both sub 4hours; I have also run the Bay Run twice over the last number of years but due to knee injuries I've have had to change my focus of training to cycling / adventure racing and would be a competitive cyclist completing events like the Rebel Tour, Tour de Cure & Malin to Mizen in 3days as well as numerous other events such as Gaelforce West and Connemara Adventure races.

Q. The Bay Run Half-Marathon started in 2007 and has been held on the May Bank Holiday weekend ever since. Last year the original owners announced that the 2013 event was going to be the last one. Why did the Maritime Hotel take on the organising of the 2014 event?
Last year as pointed out by yourself John the event was finishing up and I felt having worked in Bantry for the last 7 years seeing what happens on a May Bank Holiday Weekend; I felt it would be an awful shame to see such a prolific event disappear. I took it upon myself to approach the owners of the event and see could a deal be brokered to take over the Bay Run and make it into something better and more transparent. In The Maritime Hotel we believe that having as many events on as possible it vital to the local economy and really losing an event as big as The Bay Run would have a negative impact on not just Bantry / Glengarriff but the entire West Cork hinterland. 

The deal was brokered with the previous owners Edge of Europe ltd. and The Maritime Hotel took over the running of the event. Once this deal was completed we then set about making the event clear in its planning; we set up a limited charitable company called Bantry Bay Run Ltd and this company is a not for profit company raising money solely for charity. The Bantry Hospice was the first charity to mind as the previous July myself and a group of local cyclists took on Malin to Mizen in 3days and we raised €14,000 for the hospice; equally I had the honour of training and working with my bosses son Donal Walsh in 2012/2013; before Donal died he was cared for by the staff at Kerry Hospice; both hospices are run by the same doctors that looked after Donal before he passed away. Both Fionnbar & I felt that the true charity to drive for would be the Bantry Hospice. I approached the committee and explained that I wanted to run the event for them and with they’re support they were delighted to come on board.

Q. What does an event like the Bay Run mean to the towns of Bantry and Glengarriff? In terms of hotels, B&B's, pubs, restaurants, etc, what impact does it have on the towns during the first weekend in May every year? 
The Bay Run typically is a big event here in Bantry and Glengarriff, it is a route that is challenging and a lot of people take it on for personal challenges as well as for raising money for an organisation that is close in hearts. The event itself can have an impact on the local economy as well bringing approx €40,000-€50,000 euro to the hotels, B&B’s pubs, supermarkets and local traders over the course of a weekend.

Q. The Bay Run has usually been associated with just the half-marathon. What's the idea behind the introduction of the 10k event?
You're correct the Bay Run has always been a half marathon and nothing more; but as an experienced coach I have trained people over the last number of years throughout Cork and West Cork I found that sometimes injuries get in the way; a shorter course can still be achievable for people. I did some market research into a 10Km event; I spoke with locals as well as athletic clubs around Cork which all ended with the same theme that a 10Km would be very well received. Some of the feedback from people was that the distance of a half marathon can really be off putting to some people who are only starting out so a 10Km is more achievable and leads to the possibility of them targeting their first half marathon the next year.

Q. The day before, you have a family 3k fun run. What's the idea behind it?
I have been working with different organisations over the last number of years and I also teach swim lessons; as a parent I cannot understand how children are becoming as big as they are getting. I see children these days around Bantry town, in Cork and they are getting significantly bigger and bigger. My nephew last summer ran off a pitch to be handed lucozade sport drinks, I was horrified and ultimately I feel the responsibility is on us as adults to lead from the front. The family fun run is just to show children how much fun and enjoyment is out there in the clear air. You throw Mum and Dad into the equation and you have the makings for a really great quality time as a family.  We have taken a lot of time to organise this event and we will be running it complete with Start / Finish blow up banner, marshals, barriers to give them the full race theme while keeping it fun and jovial. Each child will receive a High Vis vest to run in as well as a high vis back pack cover. There will be trampolines, and amusements plus face painters at the finish line as well as music to entertain everyone. 

Q. In a lot of half-marathon and other events around the country, they have 'charity partners' which often just means that sponsorship cards are given out to participants. The charity partner for the 2014 Bay Run Half-Marathon is the Bantry Hospice. How exactly will they benefit from the proceeds of the Bay Run Half-Marathon & 10k?
Correct again John and given the article in social & print media recently I think it's only right that we have the chance now to fully show transparency. The Bay Run is a charity event, we are aiming to raise money for the Bantry Hospice. Should we make a profit year 1 then this will go to The Hospice. Obviously in order to maintain the limited charitable company set up a certain amount of funds have to be kept to maintain solvency but the lions share of profits will go to charity i.e. Bantry Hospice.
We lent a hand with regard to the sponsorship cards and will try to help the hospice generate as much revenue for their operations as is possible but once the event is finished we would be hoping to add to the sponsorship cards themselves.  This is obviously subject to numbers turning up for either the Half Marathon or 10 Km or 3Km Family Fun Run.
Once we have completed the events successfully then it is our aim to publish the profit and loss account into social media, print media and everywhere else. Should someone want a copy they need only ask. As it stands we have given copies of the current projected P&L complete with expenses to the hospice committee. I know having reviewed previous facebook comments, other media over the years; there has been serious negativity towards this event regarding price.
Price these days is so sensitive but we are basing our price on our costs and equally on what this event provides as well. In terms of the goodie bag we have worked tirelessly on putting together the best possible goodie bag so people feel that they are getting value for money, other events locally and throughout the country charge €30 for a half marathon and give nothing. We will be providing a Technical T-Shirt, full size moisturisers, food supplements, discount vouchers, spa samples along with many more. We have put a huge effort into the making the finish an experience as well where we have recruited the Angsana Spa therapists from The Brehon 4star hotel, Killarney to do the cool down massages which hasn’t been on the programme for the last number of years. We will have PowerBar at the finish line handing out recovery  protein shakes, there will be a BBQ for the spectators, music thanks to RED FM, we will have the bouncy castles, trampolines, merry go rounds etc available as well as the DJ from RED FM will have a box of spot prizes dedicated to the athletes families waiting at the finish line, prizes range from dinner vouchers, to spa vouchers and many more.
Having run the Bay Run myself I always felt that there wasn’t enough water stations as well so this year the Bay Run events will have an additional water station which is to be operated by PowerBar, this water station will give runners & walkers alike free gels, energy drinks to help them on their way.

Q. Looking ahead, what are your plans for the Bay Run Half-Marathon & 10k?
Looking ahead of year 1 - should we succeed in operating a profit to ensure the charitable company’s survival we will then push on and look to improve on year 1. We haven’t ruled anything out, a full marathon, those routes have been explored already by myself as well as the possibility of making it more fun & interesting like the last man standing concept hopefully we will do enough this year to make this event as good as we can; we can only be the best if we strive to be the best.

Thanks for your time John.

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