Sunday, 17 April 2016

Appropriate response

In the last week or so there have been a couple of instances of things not going quite right for UK runners. While both have been very disappointing in different ways, it has been interesting and encouraging to see the measured level of response from those affected. Not that those impacted are any less outraged, but proving that there are ways to move forward with grace and humility.

The first is very close to home, where one of the Greyhounds that was due to run the London Marathon next weekend for a national charity found out that the charity had forgotten to complete the registration. As a result, the Greyhound can't take part, despite months of hard training and months of fund-raising for the charity. Virgin Money run a very tight ship when it comes to the marathon, which includes no swapping numbers with other runners and no late entries.

Despite a swift social media campaign, it was clear that the situation could not be changed. So, rather than kick up a fuss, get all grumpy, rail against the charity or rail against VMLM, the runner saw a different way through. They will instead run the marathon at the same time, just up here in Saddleworth. Ten laps of Dovestones reservoir is roughly the same distance, so our Greyhound will prevail, complete the distance and make sure that the fund-raising challenge is still completed. Fellow runners will now be able to join in the endeavour, supporting both from the sidelines and by running alongside for a lap or two! What a great way through a problem.

The second instance relates to Parkrun, which as some of you will know is a free weekly 5k timed run held in parks up and down the country (and some abroad as well). Park run brings huge benefits to the health and social wellbeing of the nation - last weekend there were 86,779 parkrunners (6,663 of whom were first timers) and 8,453 volunteers taking part in 487 UK events.

This week, Stoke Gifford Parish Council (in South Gloucestershire) decided to charge Parkrun for their use of Little Stoke Park, citing that it was "unfair" to expect non-running residents to pay for path upkeep. As a result, for the 300 adults and children who take part in the Little Stoke Parkrun, their event was cancelled this weekend. This council decision comes despite the Little Stoke parkrunners volunteering to undertake any perceived maintenance and litter picking duties required to compensate for their activity. Since this news story broke, another 14,000+ have signed up! 

Parkrun have been trying to work with the council towards a resolution and have encouraged disgruntled runners to avoid the route of antagonistic protest and instead to "act with respect and dignity". However, they have encouraged everyone to share their love of parkrun and of Little Stoke parkrun on social media by way of support to those affected. There have been concerns about the decision to charge voiced by several prominent UK athletes. There has been the inevitable online derision targeted at the council e.g. suggesting they next introduce a subscription service for use of the children's playground (after all, it would be unfair for residents without children to pay for playground upkeep). There is also a petition, for the council to revoke the decision, that to date has attracted over 55,000 signatures.

1 comment:

  1. We like the attitude of Parkrun in encouraging runners at Little Stoke to engage in a dignified response. We salute the runners for offering to cleanup and make good any areas that may have needed 'repair'. A great pity the race was cancelled.