Britains lost ultra heritage

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24/04/2012 at 20:27

I went to see the start of the very last London/Brighton road run.  From what I can remember there was a plea from the organisers to running clubs en route to provide marshals for the following year otherwise the event would fold.  Sadly this did not appear to be forthcoming and it did. 

I suspect that the ratio of marshals/runners on road ultras is now so high when compared with that of cross country events that the former are much harder to organise even without the dreaded 'elf'n'safety concerns.

AndrewSmith    pirate
25/04/2012 at 09:09

Another good point and one that is sadly indicative of modern society. Too many people are focussed on themselves and not on helping others.

Maybe races should have a proviso that before you can enter you have to marshal the race. One marshaling donation, one race entry?

25/04/2012 at 09:46
AndrewSmith - I think that is a good idea. Not necessarily marshal the race itself but have marshalled atleast one race within the previous 12 months, I couldn't justify a trip to Scotland just to marshall a race that I would like do a year later. I believe Western States require you to have done 8 hours of marshalling before you are able to put your entry in? I think it is a good idea... If enough events put that caveat on their entries then it will go full circle and people will be marshalling a variety of events in order to meet the criteria as opposed to all of them offering to help at one race just so they can do it the following year.
26/04/2012 at 12:46
Interesting idea to caveat some events with an evidence of marshalling. I help marshall my clubs road races, but could do more really.
26/04/2012 at 19:17
I like the idea of having marshalling piints to qualify for a race.
One point not mentioned is rep stress injury from road ultras. Its a fact that fell runners knees and joints last longer. if you want to keep running then stick to uneven ground. The fear of twisted ankles is an urban myth probably started by Enid Blyton.
My most local race is the Dartmoor Discovery (8miles from my house). The thought of running 32 miles around Dartmoor on roads makes me shudder. Having said that if thats what turns you on then its ok with me.
26/04/2012 at 20:14
I agree with the marshalling to qualify idea, I guess it sounds a bit trite to the cynical, but these things we love wouldn't exist without volunteers. I have marshalled at the Abingdon Marathon, and will do so again this year, but I really should do some more. Maybe I'll contact Go Beyond, as my first two ultras are with them.
26/04/2012 at 20:19
AndrewSmith wrote (see)

Maybe races should have a proviso that before you can enter you have to marshal the race. One marshaling donation, one race entry?

its a good idea i think, and would provide valuable insight to 'would-be' entrants as to what they were going to be doing. id like to marshall at an ultra, a lot can be learnt from the pros , just from being there and watching and learning.
27/04/2012 at 08:01

I thought the reason why so many of the ultra classics have gone was because the organisers were so old and kept dying. That and roads I assume.

Wouldn't it be awesome to close the necessary roads and have the London to Brighton race once again but with 10000 people like comrades? 

27/04/2012 at 17:55

That is a good point. 

Sometimes the founders of an event simply get too old to run it, and nobody takes their place. 

The High Peak 40 is a popular event that sells out well in advance, but it is run by the same people who were doing it in the early 80s, and one day its future will depend on whether somebody else steps forward . 

03/05/2012 at 12:20

Some of the oldest off-road Ultras were initially Scouting only 'challenge' events. The 4 Inns for instance is now well into its 50's and the Fellsman was 50 this year.

In the 60's the 4 Inns was nearly stopped because of fatailities on the moors and then Foot & Mouth but more recently these races almost died off from lack of interest within Scouting. Since they were opened up to non-scouting entrants both have seen a strong revival.  

27/07/2012 at 13:01

Found this thread a bit late. I had thought we had NO road ultras left in the UK, so pleased to hear about Dartmoor Discovery and (tho' a bit long for me!) the Cotswold 100.

+1 on the WS100-style marshall-to-run thing. I would love to run a reborn L2B and would happily marshall it to earn that privilege.Of course these days it would be a lot of work to put it on. You wouldn't just need marshalls, you would probably have to have quite a lot of people just to take charge of arranging everything with the councils & cops along the route - five ten-mile race directors if you see what I mean. A lot of work but even these days, not impossible, and wouldn't it be great if it happened! Things do happen though - look at the resurgence in bigcity marathons in the UK, look at ParkRuns. So we can hope.

Although at the moment, having rather slacked off training and eaten a lot of buns since Comrades, I am so desperately unfit I find five miles pretty hard work . Running Abo this year so best train now!


27/07/2012 at 18:24

see you at Abo fido2dogs

03/09/2012 at 12:18
Keswick 2 Barrow (K2B) is a fantastic 38mile road ultra
03/09/2012 at 22:37

They cunningly hide it as a "team walk"!


07/09/2012 at 10:37

+1 on requiring marshalling points to qualify for races. I think that's a great idea.

Of the seven events in the Scottish ultra series, this year I've run two and marshalled at three. Picked up loads of useful 'insider' info and really enjoyed helping out. Have already signed up again to marshal the ones I won't be running next year...

07/09/2012 at 10:55
Fido2Dogs wrote (see)

+1 on the WS100-style marshall-to-run thing. I would love to run a reborn L2B and would happily marshall it to earn that privilege. 

The first race would have a pretty thin field

I do agree on the idea of completing a number of hours marshalling or performing other race day tasks (marking, sweeping, registration etc).

Well worth getting down to Dartmoor Discovery Fido if you have not done so before. Its a great race.


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