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Farah GNR 2008


16 February 2009

Article by Ed Warner as seen in Athletics Weekly magazine.

As I hope by now you will have noticed, the UKA website was re-launched recently with a new look and one of the key features of this re-launch was a section on road running and a new website launched by the governing body at www.realbuzzrunbritain.com.

The road running community in the UK and elsewhere has been critical of governing bodies for failing to address the specific needs of the largest branch of athletics. However, within Britain things are now different. Over two years ago UKA set up the Road Running Leadership Group which consisted of some of the major road race organisers, governing bodies and other organisations with an interest in road running.

Since then, the group has evolved and has appointed and elected representatives such as Geoff Wightman, who is both Chairman and Celtic Nations rep; Nigel Jones, elected representative for races with fewer than 4,000 runners; Andrew Taylor, elected by races with more than 4,000 runners; Hilary Walker, elected to represent UKA-affiliated Clubs; Ian Stewart, the new Senior Endurance Manager at UKA; and Mike Summers, originally the Group’s business manager but now Chief Executive of England Athletics.

In addition, the following members sit on the group in an advisory capacity: Dave Bedford, race director of the London Marathon; Hugh Brasher of Sweatshop; Max Coleby, co-founder of the Great North Run, Bill Reynolds, representing BARR; John Temperton for UKA’s Athletics Services; and Pierce O’Callaghan, RunBritain’s Business Manager.

Within this group there is an in-depth experience of all aspects of road running and racing, from local through to international level. The aim of RunBritain is simple: to make British road running the best in the world in terms of organisation, development and performance.

To that end, the website offers a number of crucial services to event organisers including a race director’s portal, with advice and guidance on medical, police and safety issues, online licencing and the cheapest online entries in the marketplace due to be added in the near future.

Along with this, the group has addressed the current situation whereby over 80% of entrants in road races do not belong to an athletics/running club by establishing an online running club with the ultimate aim of encouraging these runners to enter the ‘real’ club system. 

As chairman Geoff Wightman says “Our clear priority is support for membership of running clubs. As the content on the website builds over the next few months, we will ensure that links to Britain’s local clubs are to the fore."

Last year over 2 million Britons took part in road races. I am sure that this number will increase in coming years and, in parallel, I hope that RunBritain will encourage growing numbers of these runners to discover the joys of membership of their local running club.