Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Looking back at 2014 and ahead to 2015

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Looking back at 2014 and ahead to 2015

Now that we've entered a new year, it might be worth looking back at 2014 and seeing what 2015 might have in store.

Number of races in Cork....The chart below shows the number of races in Cork in 2014. These are for races that had published results with times. They include road, cross country and trail races as well as parkruns. It doesn't include track races or fun runs/walks where no results were given.

The big jump in 2014 was due in no small part to the new parkruns in Clonakilty and Bere Island. Even taking those out of the equation, there still was a significant jump in 2014. With Clon and Bere Is. removed, the figure would be up around 215.

Looking over a slightly longer time span, you can see how much things have changed in just a few years. Just five years ago, there was on average about a race a week. This translated into some weekends in the winter/spring when there were no races and a summer where there might have been two races in a week. In 2014, there were multiple races on weekends and sometimes, there were two races on the same day.

So what has changed?

If we look back at say 2008, things were different then. The Cork BHAA organised their own calendar of races, Ballycotton Running Promotions organised several races in East Cork and the various athletic clubs organised their own. When they were all added up, there were about 60 races in Cork spread out over the course of the year.

One significant point here though is the quality of the results and the prize structure. As you can see below, these are the Bandon 5 mile results from 2011. It shows a list of all the finishers with their club names. The race also gave out prizes for various categories and for teams. The BHAA did something similar except it was based on companies. This was the norm back then.

And in 2014?
Cork BHAA......The Cork BHAA continue to do what they do best.....good races at a very modest price. The number of events might have increased slightly? but they are still much the same. They have a wide range of prizes covering several various age categories with multiple team prizes as well.

Ballycotton Running Promotions......They continue much the same as before. Modest entry fees, a comprehensive prize structure and results with club names shown.

Parkruns.....These are a new addition in the last two years. Run on a voluntary basis, these weekly 5k races in Macroom, Clonakilty and Bere Island have given people in those areas plenty of choice....and they're free.

Commercial races.....These tend to be for the longer distance races and are often on a scale that are beyond the scope of a lot of clubs.

Races organised by clubs...These have seen the biggest changes. Some like the Bandon 5m, Belgooly 4m and so on remain the same. Full prize structure with full results with clubs listed. A lot of the newer races organised by clubs or at least those who have gotten permits through clubs are now very different. In many cases, the races are for charity and there is no comprehensive prize structure or team prizes. The main aim is now just to raise funds as opposed to organising a race. In many cases, chip timing is used and no club names are given.

Fun Runs / Walks.....It started out as like a trickle but there are now a significant number of these events. There is a huge variation in what an event is like. In some cases, it's nothing more than a charity walk in a local community. At the other end of the scale, some of the fun runs are organised better than some of the club races with full results including club names, a prize structure and times.

MMRA trail races.....Traditionally, the Munster Mountain Running Association has been involved in organising races up and down mountains like Carauntoohil and Mangerton. As expected, this is a niche sport and only of interest to a small number of people. The inclusion of trail races in various woods has opened up their races to a much larger audience and it's now an option for many who would have traditionally done just road races.

When you look at the list above, it's easy to see where all the extra races in the last few years have come from. Now with many using the services of chip timing companies, it makes organising an event so much easier.

And predictions for 2015???
I could look back 5 years ago and people were predicting a crash in numbers back then. There is no sign of any change in numbers. For example, I can look back at the numbers for the Ballycotton 5 last August and the results show record numbers. There are plenty of people out there running to support most of these races.

In 2015, the Cork BHAA races will remain as popular as ever. So too will the Ballycotton Running Promotion races due to the modest entry fees. The Parkruns will be fine as long as they can get volunteers. Trail races will be an attractive option for many.

The major change I can see is the increase in the number of fun runs and walks. These will be organised by community groups and other sporting bodies with the aim of raising funds for charities or their own sports. Once one is seen to be successful, it will encourage more to be organised. In most cases, it will be local communities doing their own thing with locals taking part. I suspect that some may well have an impact on some of the smaller races being organised in conjunction with athletic clubs. I'd expect that in 2015, we'll see more cases of where there are multiple races on the same day.

Bottom Line......Depending on where your interest lies but you'll have plenty to choose from in 2015. How much you want to pay or travel is up to you as there will be plenty of choice. It's worth noting that in the Belgooly 4 mile race on St.Stephens Day, roughly 60% of those taking part were not members of any athletic club. It's likely that the events that attract the numbers will be those based on quality and size rather than just because an athletic club is involved in the organisation of it.

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