A UK Membership Scheme For Runners: Have Your Say

UK Athletics, the governing body of our sport, is looking at the practicalities of a membership scheme for all runners. Please help with some quick initial feedback

Posted: 7 June 2006

As part of the ongoing reorganization of running and athletics throughout the country, UK Athletics, the governing body of the sport, is looking at the practicalities of a membership scheme for all runners.

In order to make such a scheme attractive, UKA is aware that it would have to offer a package of benefits in return for any fee. Below is a list of potential benefits: which ones would be compelling reasons to join a running membership scheme? Please tick as many as you like.

Saving on race entry fees
Insurance (public liability and personal accident)
Participation in a bespoke loyalty scheme offering products or future entry discounts
Air miles or other existing loyalty scheme benefits
A 'license' to compete
Priority entry to oversubscribed races
Discounted sportswear
Discounted tickets to televised athletics events
Discounted health club membership
Other discounted products/services
Participation in a nationally administered running handicap scheme
A personal chip-timing device

Thank you. If you'd like to add any comments, please contribute to the lively forum discussion here

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UK Athletics, the governing body of the sport, is looking at the practicalities of a membership scheme for all runners. Runner's World is helping with the research.

The first step is to work out what benefits runners would want from a membership scheme. Please take a moment to tick some boxes on this page (it takes half a minute...):

Sean, RW
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:06

What? Competition for URWFRC?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:08

Sean - I know it isn't your survey but straight away I thought of plenty of things which weren't on the list (such as discounted physio services, medical helpline, access to coaching services to name just three!) and there isn't a space for 'other.'

Also, would this be for UKA-affiliated club members or simply for those who aren't in a club?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:10

Sean - I have answered it in the context of what I would want to see in addition to what I already get as an existing affiliated club member.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:12

Personal chip timer?

Some got lost on FLM!
Would the time be recorded on a database?
if so that could then be open to abuse?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:12

Sounds ominous to me.
I ticked no boxes at all - I wouldn't support or countenance such a thing without a lot of hard facts.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:13


'Discounted sportswear
Discounted tickets to televised athletics events
Discounted health club membership
Other discounted products/services'

So they want you to pay to be a runner, and then they want to use that to sell you more things?

'A 'license' to compete
Priority entry to oversubscribed races'

So only properly registered club runners are allowed to race?

Can we have a box to tick that says 'Over my dead body', please?

Running shouldn't need 'official' permission.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:14

"membership scheme for all runners"
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:14

Spot on, DG. Don't let them do this.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:15

"entry to oversubscribed races" - since I avoid any race with more than a couple of hundred runners like the plague, this is not an incentive!

I am already a member of
A running club
A cycling club
British Cycling (so that I can have a racing licence)
The Fell Runners Association (because I support their aims and it's the only way to find out what races are on). Also, the quarterly magazine is cool.

That is more than enough, thank you

I see the point of having a licence to race bikes since the potential to kill someone (or yourself) or bring down 10 x £3000 bikes in a pack is quite great. But what damage can I do to someone in a race? Sweat over them?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:21

Im a bit confused
its pretty much the same as membership of a club isnt it

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:21

well, they could just join RRC then
Like me:)))
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:23

Is this the "Peter Radcliffe" proposals?

If so, what was the outcome of the responses from teh clubs?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:24

What? Competition for URWFRC?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:26

But what about people like my Mum who did the local 10k every year and ran round the fields near our house a few times to train, but would never want to be a 'club runner'?

I would be deeply worried that something like this would put off 'casual' runners who just want to turn up and have a go at their local event 'cos it's there - and i'd say that's how most 'serious' club runners started out too.

Running doesn't need anyone's permission. i'm also very worried by the 'insurance' aspect - i could see it being made difficult to just get out there & run because you feel like it, or for someone just to turn up to a club session - maybe for the first time, or on holiday in a different part of the country - and just get out there and run.

The only thing you need to run is feet, and it should stay like that.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:26

I think we need more info
it doesnt say on there you HAVE to be a mamaber of it to enter races

Gumps-you know a bit more about this it seems-could you clarify?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:29

Yep, exactly NOT in the spirit of the sport. Insurance is covered by club membership or UKA entry fee levy anyway.

Or perhaps it's like the Tufty Club - I was legally permitted to cross the road without joining, but I joined anyway. If there's a newsletter with a poster of Paula and a badge....
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:29

I am sure the initial intention was worthy. But the list of "benefits" looks like a license to sell me stuff, and a veiled threat not to let me take part in UKA-approved events unless I've signed up for membership.

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:30

The phrase "all runners" keeps bugging me.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:30

The young quacker speaks wisely.
As always.

(though if there's any cheap kit going...]
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:31

Lizzy (all) - some super points here, thank you. We'll make sure UKA is aware of the this thread, as well as the survey results.

I'll put a link back to the thread at the bottom of the survey.

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:35

oh dear, i get all worried if people start agreeing with me!
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:37

I don't see the issue with a countrywide membership scheme if it is co-operative and non-coercive.

For example if I am fairly new to an area I could use the list to contact other casual (non-club runners) with similar aims. Or have access to a list of approved and used sports physios rather than picking a number from Yellow Pages. It could also list coaches or even experienced runners willing to advise & help out. It could be a great source of marshals for smaller local races - in essence it could work like a bigger RW BB.

Likewise we all have common concerns - traffic, dogs, sweatshop practices, VAT on sporting goods, sports facilities at schools, lottery funding for athletics at local or elite level or whatever. A national association with a multi-million grassroots membership could act as a very effective lobbying voice.

However if it's just a mass mailing database (a la Tescos Clubcard) offering 10% off Nike trainers then it'll die a rapid death.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 11:45

Survey done - I've filled out a similar survey from UKA before and that one asked if I would be interested in discount on a new Saab car when I ticked No, it asked Why. I suspect this is a similar survey and if there's a national membership as with Scotland it will be yet more money to fork out for nothing, except generate income for them.

I have a UKA Coaching licence and the regular paperwork that I receive from UKA make me think that they are totally useless. They are currently wasting money on CRB checks for all coaches irrespective of whether they ever coach children or vulnerable adults. Their paperwork is crap and impossible to understand and the errors they make are appalling. My coaching licence has the incorrect expiry date on and I have to show a letter from UKA with the correct date.
Every letter I receive from UKA is followed by another apolgising for the incorrect info in the first letter.

they couldn't organise a pi$$ up in a brewery
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:09

Off the fence, Shades. Tell us what you really think! ;o)

I'd be concerned about the "priority entry to races" too. As has been said, that may well discourage non-members from even thinking about entering a race, and a lot of people don't join any type of running club before they have run a race (or at all sometimes).

Would it mean that race organisers, when they applied for their UKA licence, would have to promise X number of places to members, regardless of the date they entered? Surely that would necessitate all races running a ballot so that they could be sure they had enough places for UKA members before allowing non-members in? That would make planning your racing calendar impossible.

Totally unworkable, and would lead to clubs breaking away and doing their own thing.

26.2 mile fun-run, anyone?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:27


Someone referred to the SAF membership. The main "selling" point that SAF put on their membership application is that it is helping to fund the development of athletics for youngsters. That to me is a much better incentive to join than getting a few quid off my health club membership.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:31

Perhaps I am cynical but feel that this is just another attempt to raise money for the minority of superstars who are as far removed from us mere mortals as the moon – the money never seems to find it’s way down to the little clubs and the so called ’new breed’ running clubs, most of all are probably nearer to 20 years old now. These clubs have to content themselves with raising club funds through organising races and other stuff – and even then we have to pass the unattached levy to the UKA. This is, to my way of thinking just a way to cash in on the 99% of runners to fund the inflated salaries and appearance fees of the stars – I have felt for a long time that it is time to remove us road runners from the UKA and go our own way – simplify the rules and let us all do what we enjoy – get on and enjoy our sport. We don’t need time keepers, officials etc just volunteers – and here is a suggestion if the area authorities want to use our races for their championship purposes then let us pay us for the privilege and supply their own marshals and time keepers, and let the UKA stop sponging off the majority of us.

Whoops fell off my soap box

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:35

you mean you would have to pay to join?!:-)

poor naive me thought UKA were wishing to prepare a scheme to benefit all runners irrespective of location, local facilities, access to coaches etc on a voluntary basis.

They would then act as a huge lobby base to stop the continual erosion of road races on the grounds of "health and safety" and other worthwhile activities on a national basis.

Forget all the fringe benefits carp and concentrate on the sport.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:38

I meant to say then let them pay us for the privilege.

have just submitted my reply completely blank - none of those reasons would entice me to join - in fact I already do belong to a scheme - I belong to a running club who are affiliated to the UKA etc and part of our membership goes to the affiliation fee - if I wasn't a member of a club, I would pay an unattached levy again which is handed over - no this is just a cynical attempt to raise money - another stealth tax
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:48

I joined the FRA on the grounds that it was an organisation run for and by Fell Runners, drawing all its officers from its own ranks, bringing all races under one umbrella, and formulating a coherent and easy to understand set of rules and policies (most of which concentrate on the practicalities of organising races).

If the UKA restricted itself to these functions and stopped interfering where it doesn't need to, then it might be worth joining.

Frankly I wouldn't hold my breath...
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:50

It sounds like their looking at a system similar to the one the BTA (British Triathlon Assoc) operates where even if you're a member of an affiliated club you still have to be an individual member of the BTA to get a race licence (to avoid paying extra at each race for a day licence). I think the current system, where you join an affiliated club and the club pays a membership fee to UKA is much better........ unless UKA are going to use the extra money to start acting on behalf of all runners to campaign about access to footpaths, stupid health and safety rules, access to sporting facilities etc.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:51

And Nessie, the sport has received government funding of around £40 million (thanks to their back tracking on their promise in 1997 to support the 2005 world championships, which they then pulled out of a couple of years after making their promise) part of this £40 million is supposed to be earmarked for sport development for youngsters.

woops fell off the soapbox again
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:51

Its rather too late to object to the national membership scheme on the whole. I'm prettty sure its going to happen. Club membership will increasingly be irrelevant with the national scheme. You will belong to the national scheme to run, and a club so have some friends to train with. It's going to happen, like it or not (mostly not).

The only thing that it should be possible to do is:
(a) Limit the cost of it. All national schemes are ridiculously expensive. All I'm aware of are over £15.
(b) Limit the effect of it.
(c) Ensure the license covers all aspects of the sport
(d) Ensure that money collected is not wasted. Your opinion of what 'wasted' means depends on who you are.
(e) Stop any kind of 'selling' of the information to other parties. Whether they are 'interested or other'. Protect your data.
(f) raise the competence level of the organisation, who as has been said can't organise much very well. There are now so few coaching courses in the South East that many willing people are not getting the training. There is so much incompetence of handling the admis side of things too.

The is a lot of stupid stuff about national and regional ranking schemes etc based on the membership scheme, which largely misses the point of why people run.
I don't think many near the top of the organisation that is UKA has any idea about the majority of runners. Nor do I suspect they particularly care.

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:53

Mr W – as Fell Runner said – don’t hold your breath!

The problem with the UKA is there is so much disharmony amongst the various factions – that the sport needs to get itself in order – 2012 is now only 6 years away and we are no nearer having one united body working for the good of the sport - things like this must take priority
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 12:59

Good points well made Dave – I have been saying for years (normally on the letters pages of AW it must be said) that the in almost everything that is done the governing body forgets that the vast majority taking part in the sport are road runners who came into the sport via watching the London or the woman’s only events and are just not concerned with what goes on at the top. I have always maintained that the average road runner is more concerned with their own performances than those of Mark Lewis Francis and Darren Campbell

As many people go to watch the London to watch the fun runners and Jade Goody as go to watch the superstars (maybe with the exception of Paula Radcliff and 13 years ago Eamon Martin)

Posted: 07/06/2006 at 13:07

I am a (very) average road runner and genuinely don't care one way or the other about elite athletics.

I run because I enjoy it; it has the desireable side-effects of making me more healthy, controlling my weight, improving my mood, improving my social life, widening my circle of friends, giving me a goal, getting me outdoors in the fresh air, getting me in touch with the weather and seasons and preventing me from being solely defined by my job. I may have missed one or two more...

What I want from my sport is for someone to organise races for me to compete in, at reasonable cost, I'd like water stations, prompt and accurate results and a medal if possible, please.

Maybe an Association of Road Running Clubs would deliver this much more efficiently and cheaply than a rather remote, yet strangely inefficient UKA/county association (or spoke and hub) framework.

Honestly, I do a different sport, at a different level, to javelin throwers, sprinters, 1500m runners and polevaulters.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 14:04

Blimey, we're a cynical bunch us runners. Okay, UKA doesn't have the best of reputations but surely a membership scheme for everyone isn't that much of a bad thing. Granted, there are things in the list I don't agree with, such as priority entry for races or air miles but insurance and reduced race entry must be a good thing. In DG's earlier post, she had a go at the discounted sportswear, well I'm sorry but we have to buy it somewhere and if I can get it cheaper then that too is a good thing, or do we all have money to burn? As it is difficult for me to join a club the reduced race entry is fine by me and I think that a centralised handicap system is a good motivator - other sports do it, so why not road running?

It seems that this is aimed at runners who wish to race. If that is not your intention and you run for runnings sake, then there is no need to join, or if you do join, there is no need to take up any offers.

As long as the money doesn't go to fund the elite athletes at the expense of the 'Little Hamble WRVS 10k fun run' and the like then it's okay by me - as long as it was a good free mag! After all, it can't be a bad thing to have a large organisation to lobby for us if needed when it comes to races being cancelled or access and stuff like that.

Right, before I get shot down in flames, I'm going to lurk somewhere else ;O)
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 15:32

lardass - most of us race and are already members of running clubs. So we already get discounted shopping, reduced entry fees and insurance. So we would pay another fee to UKA and get nothing worthwhile in return..

Why is it difficult for you to join a club?
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 16:06

Lardass - you not going to be shot down in flames by me - as you are as entitled to your opinion as anyone else - as you are a non running club member then if it gives you the opportunity to enter races without having to pay the unattached levy then all power to you, - however, members of clubs already receive both the insurance benefits and the reduced race entry fees by way of our clubs affiliation to the UKA - many proper running shops also give discounts to local club members, so club members would in fact be paying twice for a lot of the benefits we already have.

And the cynical amongst us do believe that the money will be creamed off to pay for inflated appearance fees for the 1% of top athletes - the 'Little Hamble WRVS 10k fun run' and the like will not get a look in. Have already seen that with the local secretary of the Essex AAA stadning around at my clubs promotion with his hand held out for the unaffiliated fees - and yet the essex AAA has never done anything for our club or race or road running in essex for that matter.
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 16:10

the phrase "stable door- horse bolted" spirngs to mind with this scheme.......

I could understand UKA's intentions if running was still a minority sport but it's now too big and too fragmented to try to introduce a national scheme

I guess UKA are tring to introduce a membership scheme like the British Triathlon Association have where becoming a member gives you a licence to race (non-members pay a daily membership fee at race registration) but the big difference with the BTA membership is it provides you with insurance cover which in tri is a big issue as it's inherently riskier than running............and bearing in mind tri is still a minority sport in reality so is more manageable

I can see some advantages of a UKA scheme but too many negatives to really make it viable - as someone said earlier - we need more facts as to the why.........
Posted: 07/06/2006 at 16:13

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