More thoughts on Road Running in the UK

The Run in England initiative 

UKA claims to have licensed over 1500 athletic road running leaders in the last 6 months. Members of groups affiliated to the Run in England initiative pay an annual fee of £25 and up to £2 for each time they train with a UKA licensed running leader.

On average this can cost affiliated club members between £75 and £150 per year, It is not surprising that clubs and groups find membership of the Run in England scheme expensive and prefer the low cost alternative offered by the Association of Running Clubs (ARC).

Here is one contribution published on the Runners World forum blog on 5th November 2010,

“I started a club in September 2010, similar idea to yourself. There are other clubs in my area but I felt a desire to be involved in something new ! 

Originally we formed as a Run in England group and I attended the Leadership in Running course, after a month it was obvious that Run in England did not meet our needs or seem to provide value for money, so after a bit of research the obvious step forward was to affiliate with ARC (Association of Running Clubs

Initially I made contact with my local gym, put my idea to them and they agreed to allow me to run my sessions from there, this gave my members car parking & changing facilities. 

On the first night we had 12 turn up, since then membership has grown and we now get around 50 runners on a regular basis each session. 

Only recently as membership has grown to manage the club efficiently I formed a committee and this helped with the workload involved in running the club.

 We are now currently working hard on planning our first annual 10k race which is proposed for next summer.

 Hope it all goes well”

 Mark Connor

 The Unattached Runner levy 

It is now 20 years since the Old Territorial Associations imposed a levy on road race competitors who did not belong to recognised running clubs. Initially set at £1 per runner this figure was raised to £2 per non affiliated runner about 10 years ago. This levy was their main source of income and much of it was passed to County Associations to help grass roots athletics. With the advent of England Athletics in 2006 the levy income passed to the new NGB in England and the Territorial Associations(TA’s)  were removed from the governance chain. The 3 TA’s – NoEEAA. Midland Counties AA and SEAA all had substantial cash reserves in 2006 and these have been used since then to allow them to function as competition providers at area level. While the TA’s have seen cash reserves drop over recent years the main losers have been the counties who struggle on, unrecognised and underfunded. The extent of this cash loss to grass roots athletics can be illustrated using the annual accounts of SEAA Ltd in financial years 2004 and 2005. Here are the details.

SEAA Income                                       2004                             2005 

London Marathon                               £ 23,796                      £ 24,540

Unattached runners. Cross Country   £2,024                      £   2,470
Road                                                     £120,203                     £139,107

Less 

County Payments                             £ 44,983                         £ 63,943
Admin costs                                       £   4,329                          £   7,074

It will be noted that The London Marathon paid a lump sum which is about one third of the amount which would be due if the £2 per non club runner rule had been applied.

The big race situation today. 

Today, the organisers of the largest road races with fields exceeding 20,000 runners operate outside the control of UKA. They carry their own insurance, permit their own races and negotiate their own commercial deals. They do make donations to UKA but these are well below the amounts which would be due if the non club runner levy were to be applied. So in general they operate rather like ARC permitted races but with the notable exception that they  make some financial contribution to UKA.

Performances from the big road races are included in the Power of Ten (P10) rankings despite the statement from UKA that any race operating outside their conditions would not be recognised nor their results posted on TPOT. ( A clear case of one rule for the rich and another for the poor).

The advantages of ARC membership 

ARC member clubs have their courses measured by qualified course measurers and receive race permits with the minimum of fuss and often at short notice. ARC race insurance is more comprehensive and superior to that offered by other permitting bodies.

When ARC was first incorporated it established that member clubs organising races could also charge non affiliated runners £2 each. Initially the agreement with organising clubs was that they would retain 60% of these levies and remit 40% to ARC to meet costs. Soon thereafter ARC changed this so that race organising clubs now retain 75% of their non affiliated income. That means that the host club retains £1.50 for every non affiliated runner thereby providing substantial income direct to the grass roots of the sport while the non affiliated runners pay the same amount as they would in Run Britain events.

ABAC Comment.  If in 2005 the Independent Poll financed by UKA had not been skewed by the Celtic club votes then England Athletics would not have been created and the TA’s would still have a governance function at area level. By now the levy system would be bringing in about £600,000 annually for county and grass roots benefits. UKA claim that their new road running initiatives bring in money for the grass roots. But we have no evidence this is the case. Rather we see an increase of well paid administrators. Detailed accounts should be available to all clubs to enable them to evaluate how cost effective are these latest road running schemes.