Running column: Runners are being seen as cash cows by big event companies, says Mark Armstrong

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:26 07 November 2019

Mark Armstrong in action at the Cambridge Half Marathon in 2019. Picture: Cambridge Half Marathon

Mark Armstrong in action at the Cambridge Half Marathon in 2019. Picture: Cambridge Half Marathon


I’ve no idea what 2020 has in store given my sidelined status.

The thought of putting my full weight on my ankle still feels a long way away, let alone breaking out into anything resembling a run.

It's obviously difficult to plan anything race-wise in the early part of the year due to the uncertainty of if/when I can get back to running.

I'm back at the hospital next week but I have already made my peace that the best case scenario is probably a return to gentle training in the early part of the new year. However, it's looking like any spring races are going to be out of reach, which isn't a problem. I just want to be able to run again.

That's not to say it won't stop me looking at booking events...

One race I've enjoyed in the last few years is the Cambridge Half Marathon.

Places are very sought after and if you don't act on the link they send you via email immediately having pre-registered then you've next to no chance of gaining an entry.

Unless… you're willing to spend more £99 for a VIP slot (plus a six percent booking fee).

Initially, I thought 'good luck with that', thinking that a lot of runners would baulk at such a price but upon closer inspection it appears they have all but sold out the 200 spaces they earmarked.

There's part of me that's disappointed organisers think they can charge this kind of exorbitant fee when to all intents and purposes all you get, above and beyond an unaffiliated place costing £40 (pricey anyway), is better access to a toilet and a massage (you also get a 'free' technical t-shirt…).

MORE: Love running? Join the Run Anglia Facebook group here

But what disappoints me more is that people are willing to pay the £99. The old saying goes 'a fool and their money are easily parted' but when will the running community say that enough is enough?

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Even my 'C' in economics at GCSE level understands the laws of supply and demand but I fear this boom period for running is starting to get out of control.

It should be pointed out that the Cambridge Half Marathon organisers aren't the only ones to exploit such a demand for places but it's a worrying trend when these big race companies can pretty much charge what they like in the knowledge it will still sell out.

Of course these companies are there to make money but nobody likes to feel like they're being exploited.

It won't stop until people refuse to pay it but that doesn't look like happening any time soon.

What I hope will happen is that people will look to more locally organised running events organised by clubs.

I note that the Ringland Half Marathon, which takes place a week before Cambridge on March 1, has sold out. From the reviews of the inaugural 2019 event, £24 of your hard earned would be a lot better spent here so get your name down on the waiting list as places are bound to crop up between now and March.

Make sure you keep an eye out on the Run Anglia Facebook group page, which has become a great place for people to transfer places… even expensive ones!

Well done Joe

I couldn't let this week's column go without mentioning the awesome Joe Skipper after his win in a course record time of 7:46:28 at IRONMAN Florida. The guy is an absolute beast of an athlete - to produce a marathon time of 2:39:01 is beyond 99 percent of the running community but to do it after swimming 3.86km and cycling 180km doesn't even bear comprehension. Superb.

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