A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was trying to put together an event that would be both fun and a challenge to runners. Well it took me a bit longer to announce than I had anticipated, due to waiting a few weeks for the selected venue to get back to me and give me the all clear, but I can now announce that the event will take place on Sunday 31 May 2015.
The event is something I’ve had in my mind for a number of years and is based upon something I really enjoyed during my competitive track racing years. The format is based on the qualifying rounds, leading to a final, of a championship event, with a bonus for fastest time set. There will be a series of races held over an approximate 800-1000m grass course. The course will be fast with some small hillocks and a few twists and turns. Each race will act as a qualification race for the next round, with the first 50% of runners in each race going through and the rest being eliminated. However anyone eliminated, at any round (with the exception of the finalists), will get another race for a chance to chase the fastest race time of the day. Prizes will be given for fastest time by a male and fastest time by a female, along with overall winner of both. At this moment I haven’t decided on prize value, depends how many take part, but the more that take part the bigger the prize.
I’m pitching entry at £6 an athlete (plus £2 levy for non UKA athletes), which works out at £3 a race for anyone eliminated at the first hurdle and cheaper if you last longer. Obviously the number of races will depend on how many enter but there will more than likely be a limit on numbers. The £6 also includes use of toilets and shower/changing facilities, plus there is parking at the venue, though car sharing would be advisable. Entries will be limited to age 14 and over (I was going to make it a bit older but having been well and truly beaten recently by a number of youngsters I don’t think they will feel out of their depth, and distance wise it is perfect for young athlete’s development).
The venue is the playing fields at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, with the Leisure Centre providing the toilets and showers/changing facilities. There won’t be food or drinks made available, as the races are short I would expect competitors to look after their own rehydration and energy replacement just as if you were going to a track event or a parkrun.
The format may change slightly, dependent on entries, but I’m aiming to get the races running smoothly without too much of a gap between them. I envisage I’ll start with male 1st round followed by female 1st round, then male 2nd round and losers chasing times, then female 2nd round and losers chasing times, and so on. Number of competitors per race will be dependent on number of entries and number of timekeepers/helpers I can muster up. There will also be a minimum time requirement to qualify as I don’t want the races to become jogging events, I want to see some proper racing in each round, if you don’t make the cut-off time you don’t progress, even if you’re in the top half of your race, but it’ll be a realistic cut-off time. Competitors will be chosen for each race using a random number generator, so it’s quite possible the fastest runners may meet in round one, may even meet again in round two, I feel it will add a bit of spice rather than trying to seed it.
I see the benefits of the event in a number of ways. Firstly they are short races so it’s similar to a track training session, albeit recoveries will not be short, secondly it will help sharpen up athletes who want to run on the track and also give them a chance to practice tactical awareness and thirdly I hope it will bring some fun to a day out.
It’s a little different to what most people would expect of a Sunday morning race but I’d like to think that difference is what will attract runners to it, plus, if you get eliminated before you expect to, there is a grass track that you could train on if you wanted to, or even if you want to do a few reps in between rounds.
Obviously, until I have a clear number of entrants I don’t know how long the event will go on but we aim to start at 10:00 and, with a short break for lunch, get through to finals early afternoon.
I will be setting up an entry form and facebook page so I’d welcome your support in an aim to make this a success and, furthermore, a regular event. I’m also happy to take any advice off other meeting promoters and feedback from competing athletes.
Written by Roger Alsopwww.rogeralsop.co.uk