Yesterday I participated in the Connswater 10km race and I have to say it was one of the greatest shambles of a race that I have ever been involved in. This isn’t going to be a positive post sadly, but I feel it needs to be said as I have never seen so many disappointed runners… Well since last year. Shall we?
I feel it is only fair to at least mention a positive from the race and that is the volunteers who were excellent throughout the two-lap course and kept people going when they were struggling. Some tried to take photos of runners and although they missed some or cut half of their body off as was my case, they were trying and some people might get a good shot! I can at least say my calf looked good! He got Victoria though so it was grand!
The course is a great little course, but maybe in retrospect, it should only be a 5 km route as then it would be easier to measure it… Speaking of which.
The negatives… Course being short
So last year the course was long by about .25 km and you would think a year later that all measurements would be in order, it was a fairly big distance to get wrong and understandably people were annoyed. I would have been annoyed too and if memory serves, I believe I may have been as the course time actually cost Victoria her PB at that distance. This year they fixed that, it wasn’t long, not long at all. Instead, they decided that it would be short, not short by a cheeky 0.05 km or something like that. Ohhhh no. They thought it would be good fun to make it short by almost 500m/ 0.5 km.
How someone could measure a course that short is beyond me. I have never had to experience a course as short as this, I didn’t even think it was possible to make a course short by 1/20th. Imagine a marathon being short by over a mile. There would be an outrage! I was shocked when I realised we were going to be short, I didn’t think we were going to be short by that much though. Unbelievable. They have said this was a human error, but the whole point of a race is to race the distance advertised, getting that wrong kind of negates the point of the race no?
We later found out that the course was measured correctly, but that the cones were moved to the wrong place last year. This year the route had to be altered last minute, but no participants were informed of this until 4 hours after the event. Communication is definitely an issue here. I feel that if people were told that there were issues, people would understand, runners are supportive, but to keep things hidden for so long isn’t good and you do begin to lose a bit of confidence in the organisers.
Medals and goodie bags
Now if you know me, you know I love a good medal and last year we got a decent one. So with all information suggesting that we were to expect medals again we ran. Once we finished the race, we received our bottle of water and we gratefully chugged them down and we began to wander around for the medals and goodie bags that were advertised.
But nowhere did we see someone with medals which confused us a little as usually someone would be there right after the water as with last year. I began to notice that there were a few other confused runners and when I found the “goodie bag” area (really just a stand with bananas and other things on it) I heard that the medals had all run out and that we had to contact the organiser and get it emailed out. I was a little disgruntled, as was Victoria, we had expected a medal and we would have been fine without one, but if it is advertised… We then hung around a little longer and overheard that there were no medals for 5 km or 10 km runners and that the medals were just for the fun runners.
This confused me even more as you could clearly see runners who were not children walking around with medals. We were then told that buffs were being given out, but they had also run out and we would get them posted to us. Very contradictory statements coming out, but none of these people (that I know of) were from the actual organisation team and they were volunteers. So it would be unfair to get angry at them as they don’t really know what is going on. This lead to complaints online a little later and everyone being told that it was just buffs for runners and that it was an oversight that the previous year’s text was on this years.
We were then told another story about how things were held up on the medal side due to last minute issues. I would have understood if this was organised last minute, but it had been planned many, many months ago. Communication again is poor and it is quite astonishing to see how poorly things were said to participants.
As you can tell, communication was poor throughout the whole mess with stories changing throughout. I believe that if someone had been present right after runners had started the race or just finished and informed us of what was occurring then the wrath and by God has there been anger at the organisers for all of this, then a lot of it would be dampened. Also, the changing of stories and on the Facebook pages just copy and pasting replies, accidentally helped stoke the fires of anger. I know Victoria was getting angry about the various tales that were getting woven.
Are there solutions?
I think the race can be rescued as currently I can’t imagine many people attending again, which is worrying because after looking around the numbers of actual participants was less than half of the first year. A lot of that could have been from the poor way it was managed last year with the route being so much longer than it should have been. I fear that this could be the second and last version of this race in its current incarnation.
I have given a few suggestions as at least the organiser wants to get it right. One of these is to make use of a park that runners go ¾ of the way around and to instead to complete a full lap of this park and then keep going into a second lap until the nearest bridge exit appears. This would mean the contentious area that has been wrong so many times is shortened considerably. Plus parks are nicer to look at whilst running than a boring industrial estate road.
I also said that for the organisers to gain trust with runners in Northern Ireland again as without a doubt that is lost, that they should align with a nearby running club who can assist them with running the event as it has obviously gotten too much for the current team. By having a running club affiliated with the race, then other runners are likely to compete. Plus this relieves some pressures on the organisation team as they have a better group of support around them.
I want this race to be a success, we need more races in the world, but I am not sure how likely I would be to attend again as twice scorned is a few too many times for me. I have seen people defend the organisers and say how difficult it is, but I have seen smaller teams organise bigger races and races on a more regular basis than this and sadly the fault solely lies with that team.
I had a lot of issues with safety concerns I had throughout the race, but they are maybe for another time as I have went on for quite long enough!
Have you ever experienced a poorly run race Let me know!