Next Steps - Fun Runs, Athletics Australia and Our PollBy Kevin Tiller, CoolRunning Australia - 21st August 2003
- In June & July, anumber of races were cancelled due to organisational difficulties relating to the RTA, insurance and clampdown on non-vehicular road users
- This affects cycling and triathlons who dispatched their spokespeople to negotiate a better deal for their sports
- Running sent no one as we don't have a national organisation or even a spokeperson
- Athletics Australia said that they represent us, and even have a "Running Australia" framework (that not many people have heard of) - see here for more information
- CoolRunning organised a vote on potentially what could happen next (results here)
- Any talk of volunteers is met with a deathly silence.
- Athletics Australia are asking CoolRunning if someone is setting up an organisation, or what else is happening. They would like to meet in Sydney around Sydney Marathon time to see how Atletics Australia can best meet the needs of recreational runners and "Fun Runs" (that's my take on it)
What Should "WE" do next ?
This is the email I have sent back to Athletics Australia:
Thanks for the email, and no I was not aware of "Le Race" and their issues in NZ - not good reading for other races held on roads ie the majority of fun runs.
Currently there has been no "decision" since our previous discussions, however I attempted to find out what the average recreational runner was thinking about it all (I prefer that term over "out of stadium runner").
Although only 188 people have voted you can see that the vast majority are keen on some representative body for recreational runners - mainly to speak on behalf of recreational runners to the various officialdom - RTA, Poloce, state govenments, even Aths Australia. Most (60%) also expected this representative body to work with yourselves to establish a proper framework for recreational runners to "plug into". Although, it should be noted that 25% were keen on a representative body, but didn't necessarily see it important to work with Athletics Australia. I have received some comments (valid, I think) about the dangers of a body becoming self-serving and charging money for little tangible benefit. On the whole though, given that currently recreational runners don't even have a spokesperson to negotiate with anyone, we are worse off. We all noticed that the cycling and triathlon organisations sent delegations to speak with the Police, the RTA and the NSW State Government, but that no one went to speak on behalf of recreational runners when our races are having difficulties and are being cancelled.
My view is that, where you have Aust. Mountain Runners and Aust Ultra Runners being members of AAF (I am a member of both by the way, so have some insight into their various positions), there would be a new body for "recreation runners". I see that this last as being way larger than both AMRA and AURA put together and it wouldn't surprise me if they could in time challenge the membership size of the regular "track and field" community.
The general concensus is that the Running Australia framework is really focussing on the wellbeing of some of the "top" out of stadium events, and certainly some effort could be put into making this more relvant for the local fun run (events AND runners). Maybe the recreational runners body can assit with the leg work here - certainly the key issue is "how to make the Running Australia Framework" relevant to the average run/runner.
As you might imagine, none of this should really be news to you - the key issue is that recreational runners are fairly independent-minded, and not keen to volunteer for "committee work" so no one (person or organisation) has stepped up to the line to volunteer. For myself, I have a full time job, CoolRunning is a spare time activity, although as you might imagine it could easily be a full time job in itself. I am also a race director for NSW's 2nd largest marathon after Sydney (the Six Foot Track Marathon). So volunteering for more responsibility is not something I am keen to do.
I am half considering putting forward CoolRunning itself as a "spokeman" for recreational runners, as we are in touch with many runners - both club runners and independent runners and are arguably best positioned to be able to listen to recreational runners and races' needs and verbalise their issues. Do you think that this approach would / could work ? I am not sure what you are looking for.
However, in lieu of someone else I can certainly meet with you, in central Sydney. I think that this can be a fruitful dialog and worth pursuing. Even if we can't find someone with the enthusiasm to kick-start an organisation, there are still things we can do, I am sure, to make sure your Running Australia plans for out of stadium events are more in tune with the needs of recreational runners/races. I am still keen to be involved anyway, as I would like to contribute to the growth and well-being of running in general.
Please advise a suitable time/location. Maybe even a rough agenda, if you have one in mind...
I am very keen for a volunteer or two to attend this meeting also, potentially someone involved with the committee of a "fun running" club and an non-club member. Any takers - email me.
I am also keen, of course, to get a broad idea of what other Coolrunners think should be the next step - Add your ideas here, or read other people's ideas.