The theme of today is written on this lovely T-Shirt that I received from my friend Lauren on my birthday this week. You see, tonight is the night of pizza, drink and friends… oh, and maybe a few kilos of Haribo 😉
So, I get up and get the running shoes on and head to Aberdeen beach for the Jog Scotland One Big Weekend 5k race. What’s that? A series of local, 5k races arranged around the country by the people responsible for promoting the sport in Scotland? This should be good.
Not normally a fan of shorter race distances outwith my weekly visit to parkrun, but given this was likely to be a great day (and I had a free entry) I thought I’d head down and give it a bash. As it is a local event and a short distance, I though that this is fantastic for giving people the chance to try something new. The roads were closed off for it, they had great signage and start/finish inflatables, chipped bibs, goodie bags, a kids race… I was expecting to see groups of friends running it for charity, people running with their family supporting them, people in fancy dress…
Unfortunately, what I saw was a small number of glum looking people looking forward to getting this over with. There was some garbled speech and music over the speakers that I could not make out and a brief attempt at a warmup. No spectators and very few elite runners. Unfortunately, this event clashed with the Aberdeen parkrun (in terms of location and time), so the usual 120-150 runners who would be in this area at this time had decided not to pay for what they normally get free and headed away to Dundee parkrun for the day.
As there was a strong backwind, I knew that in order to get myself a decent time I would need to make the most of it and get a very quick first mile in, as the way back would be hard going. Given I wanted to start quick and looking around at the other runners I decided to get myself near the front. On starting, I shot off quickly with the backwind and got myself a very satisfying first mile split (as it was a 5k, I should have probably changed my Garmin to KM autolaps. I didn’t. Live with it!) of 7:18. Nice one I thought. The next mile was mixed with wind in my face and back so I managed a respectable 7:45. On the final stretch, the one I knew would bethe toughy, I needed to dig deep and push hard against the wind. Unfortunately, I make a much better sail than some of the petite runners that surrounded me. There were a couple of runners that kept changing from walk to run in the wind rather than choosing a steady pace. There was another girl who was relentlessly hounding me down and kept me pushing on. I think she past me on the line, so I look forward to seeing which one of us got over the line quickest.
My tough mile saw me an 8:27 split, which I am quite pleased with. MY time overall was only about 20 seconds quicker than my average parkrun, and given the extra work I had to put in for that I cannot help feel a little bit cheated by the wind on a day that I was in good form. Not to worry though, I have to be happy with improving regardless of the conditions. Final time text to me read 24:40. I am quite looking forward to seeing the results, as I reckon I finished in the top 25% of runners, which would be fantastic.
Going back to some of the comments I made earlier though, I do feel that this race was a bit of a let down. It was very expensive for those who were paying to run – nearing £5 per km I believe. This would account for the small number of runners (I estimate around 200-300). A free 5 km race (Aberdeen parkrun) which regularly attracts an average of around 150 runners was cancelled to make way for an expensive 5 km race with less than double the usual turnout of parkrun. This was done by Jog Scotland too – the company responsible for promoting running in Scotland. Where did the money go to and how could it have been saved? Closing a road which has a very large and wide path at the side is costly and pointless when you only have a couple hundred runners. Every week in parkrun it is managed on the paths, alongside other users of the esplanade with very little incident or inconvenience. Chipped timing is again costly and not needed for the number of runners that were there. Again, parkrun manages it without chips and relies on the huge amount of willing volunteers that we are lucky to have in our sport. Timed running is great, I love it, but in this case it was a cost which could not be justified. Goodie bags full of tat; I have no idea if these cost anything, and as nice as the running belt is I have no need for a tiny tube of toothpaste which will in no way help my running. This is the first critical post I have put on here and I hope it’s the last in a while. I can normally see the good in the worst of races, but this was a huge let down. Jog Scotland, you need to try harder!
At least the medals are nice:
|23||Ronnie Mutch (145)||00:24:40|
A response from Billy Mitchell, head of jogscotland:
Thanks for getting in touch – it was good to read your blog post, as we’re always keen to hear all feedback, whether positive or negative. I thought you might be interested in the thinking behind One Big Weekend, so that you know where we’re coming from.
When I started work at Scottish Athletics last December, I was keen to have an objective look at jogscotland’s activities. In some cases, this started with the basic question – “Why are we doing this?” This was how I started out with events provision. Historically, jogscotland staff have staged several “5k Challenge” events around the country. With only two staff, this has been a big stretch for us. Our membership is large and growing fast (c. 30,000) and the members have varied wants and expectations of events. My view is that event delivery is notjogscotland’s core business – others do it better. So we have adopted several approaches and will monitor interest closely.
1 One Big Weekend. We licenced the use of thejogscotland brand to GSI events (organisers of the Edinburgh marathon amongst other premier events) for 4 big city events. We felt that there was a demand for this; around 1000 registered – around 150 are new members to jogscotland. This year’s events have yet to be evaluated, but online feedback was generally very positive. I also attended both Aberdeen and Perth events and spoke to many members about their experiences.
2 parkrun. Scottish Athletics, jogscotland and parkrun have signed a co-operative agreement, where we will promote each other’s activities. I am working with Chrissie Wellington on the development of the new Junior Parkrun protocols and in ensuring that the Scottish context is incorporated into their Child Protection policy.
3 Partnership with local event organisers. I am currently in conversation with Race Organisers regarding piloting partnerships where a 5k jogscotland challenge could be incorporated into existing running festivals, around the country. I am hopeful that we can agree one or two in the current year, for a start.
4 Major events. We are in discussions with Nova regarding how to best support jogscotland members taking part in their events – (Great Edinburgh Run etc.).
Of course, all these approaches will take time to develop, but I hope that members will find something to their taste within this broad spread of offerings.
Thanks for your good wishes for next year’s One Big Weekend – as you say, the more feedback we can gather, the better we can make it, so I do appreciate the comments you made.
Head of Jogscotland