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Revitalising UK road running

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The newly appointed UK Road Running Leadership Group (RRLG) has given itself until the end of this year to unify the sport’s massive army of ‘foot soldiers’ and find a way to finance endurance running at all levels.

 

Transitional arrangements for this year have already been communicated to all permit officers and will enable races to continue operating safely and smoothly while the sport focuses on its future from 1 April 2008.

 

The appointed group comprises Dave Bedford, Director of the Flora London Marathon, the world’s biggest marathon, and former world 10,000m record holder during his own inspirational career; Hugh Brasher, Chief Executive Officer of Sweatshop, the UK’s largest specialist retailer of running wear, and promoter of the Sweatshop series of road races; Max Coleby, co-founder of the Great North Run, and promoter / course director of smaller events; Zara Hyde Peters, Director of Athletics at UK Athletics and a regular road racer; Nigel Rowe, Chair of England Athletics’ South West region and director of the Plymouth Half Marathon; and Geoff Wightman, Chief Executive of Scottish Athletics and a former international marathon runner. Between them, this group represents the interests of event organisers across the whole spectrum from small club events to major charity fund-raisers.

 

They have co-opted as temporary project consultant Jack Buckner, the former European 5000m champion whose commercial career includes 10 years as Marketing Director of a major sportswear manufacturer.

 

The group has summarised its headline purpose, which is to improve the standard and participation of road running in the UK on behalf of UK Athletics.  The values of the group are to demonstrate in all their deliberations:

-        Quality

-        Teamwork

-        Inclusiveness

-        Success

 

Its aims are to find ways of benefiting all of the UK’s 2,000-plus road races and 2 million runners  in the following crucial spheres:

 

Administration – ensuring best possible standards of delivery UK-wide covering permits, standards, insurance, medical cover, police, local authorities, health and safety, plus grading;

 

Finance – the massive issue of income generation and re-investment;

 

Marketing – including communications, online resources, broadening participation, serving race organisers and runners;

 

Performance – improving standards in endurance throughout the UK.

 

It amounts to the most concerted effort ever to help all race organisers – whether they are local authorities, clubs, charities, private companies or governing bodies – to find their niche and to ensure that all standards of endurance runners obtain maximum benefits, whether they are seeking health and fitness en route to the local or major medals on the way to London 2012.

 

Bedford, whose own career took in major track and cross country successes before he helped make the Flora London Marathon the major Pied Piper of road running, said: “The breadth of the road running spectrum in the UK presents us with quite a challenge.

 

“The bigger road races have developed their own systems for medical and policing issues but it is time to spread that out in an appropriate way so that smaller events can be helped to raise their game as well.

 

“Many race organisers are also pretty sick of being tax collectors of unattached levies. There have got to be better ways of supporting road running.

 

“This Group is not just a governing body scheme – I wouldn’t have thrown my hat into the ring if it was – but we have the right people, each with more than 20 years’ involvement in our sport, to re-energise and make proposals to transform road running for the better.

 

“There are some quite radical ideas on the table and we will consult widely and carefully around these – and will move quickly. By early 2008, I expect us to be underway with the positive steps that will eventually make British road racing the clear number one in the world for participation, governance and performance.”

 

  • The new Group will have a dedicated UK road running website www.roadrunninguk.com up and running in September.