I can help but feel that blame, if we are pointing fingers for a moment, should be laid at the feet of our governing body. England Athletics and its confusing sub brands should be putting greater focus on encouraging the millions of runners who attend Park Run each week to reach beyond a solitary Saturday run.
Great article Andy.
James Poole
11

I agree with this entirely.

1: parkrun exists almost purposely in a vaccuum. That’s fine for them, and is one of the reasons it feels so welcoming — there is no ego on the table as far as I’ve ever seen. That said, it was my route back into competitive running in my 30’s and I was surprised there were no clubs there encouraging people to come and join them. A couple of flyers, a quick word at the start — it doesn’t take much

2: England Athletics needs to make it easier for clubs to form. Having helped set up the cycling club Vicious Velo (after falling out of love with overly large clubs and wanting a more tailored experience), I’ve seen how easy it is in cycling. Why can’t it be the same in running? Amateur sports rely on volunteers to allow competitions to take place in an affordable fashion, but ensuring clubs pull their weight is the responsibility of the leagues and the clubs themselves, not the governing body. And why should every club cater to every potential runner, with child protection and diversity programs? If someone wants to create Polish Plumbers AC and limit membership to qualified plumbers, who cares? So long as they organise races, who does it hurt?

3: I only went back to club running because I remembered it existed from my teens. If I didn’t have that history, I think I’d be much more likely to be running with Advent Running or Run Dem. I don’t see how anyone younger than me or from a less competitive background would find a way into club running without a close friend to encourage them. Advent Running on the other hand — you’re always at the top of my instagram explore page. Sadly, I don’t see many clubs or club runners in that environment.

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