Run For Health
Running is one of the most effective ways to promote fitness and unity among our community at large because it is accessible to most people and it requires hardly any expenditure. In fact, perhaps due to the Public’s rising health concerns, more individuals and families are taking-up running as their preferred form of outdoor exercise. Consequently, Event Management companies are taking advantage of this unprecedented surge in the popularity of running to organise more running events for the public every weekend. In turn, thousands of runners are willing to fork-out RM30 to RM120 to run in one of these events in exchange for an event T-shirt, a medal and a goodie bag which has been paid for by the Event Sponsors.
Joy And Pain
When an event is organised extremely well, the runners will feel that their money has been well-spent and the personal satisfaction of completing a 10km Run or a 42km Full Marathon is practically priceless.
However, in reality, there is no such thing as the perfect running event, and there will invariably be a few unpleasant incidents caused by the runners and/or the organisers which can spoil the event for the rest of us. Let us take a look at some of the typical cases of Runners and Event Organisers behaving badly (refer to “8 Good Running Habits” and “8 Running Event Fails”, on purpose or not, in the hope that increasing the awareness of these problems can lead to finding sustainable solutions, and ultimately, make everyone’s running experience even more enjoyable.
Runners play a significant role in determining whether an event is successful or not. Here are some of the ways a runner can contribute positively to any event:-
8 Good Running Habits
- Before registering for any event, be sure to conduct a thorough background check on the event organiser and read fully the terms and conditions of the event. For easy reference, I have listed below my recommended selection criteria, entitled “Guide To Running Smart”, which guide you to avoid registering for forgetful and lame duck events.
- Get a your doctor’s approval before taking part in a run, especially for new runners and runners with a medical condition.
- Be prepared and train adequately before taking-up any running challenges.
- Be considerate and courteous to other runners. Do not push and shove other runners. Do not spit while running with other runners nearby. Do not curse other runners or race volunteers. If you have to stop or walk, veer to the left of the road first.
- Read and follow the race DOs and DON’Ts carefully. If you have any doubt, seek clarification from the organisers.
- Be fair to the race organiser. If you have a problem regarding the event, do not cry and shout about it online without first seeking proper clarification. Explain to the race organiser clearly what is your problem or the nature of your complaint. Organisers are more likely to assist you if you speak to them patiently and in a calm manner. Then, try and resolve the issue amicably between the two of you before seeking any 3rd Party arbitration. Most of the time, your problem is only a small oversight or misunderstanding which can be resolved quickly without much fuss.
- Customer feedback is important to event companies because it can significantly help them to improve their products and services in the future. Therefore, as a customer, you should send a short note to the event organiser afterwards explaining what you like and dislike about their events.
- Leave no one behind. If you see another runner in obvious physical pain, ask them, “Can I help you?” or “Can I get you help?”. It is best for the whole running community when runners look-out for one another during a run, and as the saying goes – “If you want to run fast, run alone, but if you want to run far, run as a team”.
8 Running Event Fails
Every year, there will invariably be some running events which will leave the participants feeling cheated afterwards for the following organisation failures:-
- The event organiser has suddenly closed shop and absconded with the registration fees without any notice and without a trace.
- The event organiser has canceled the event without any refund or any form of compensation to the registrants.
- The event organiser has changed the event date and/or venue for valid or invalid reasons.
- The event organiser has clearly neglected the safety of the runners and that of the general public.
- Poor management of event and poor communication skills which lead to discomfort, inconvenience, confusion and very long waiting queues for the participants.
- Organisers have over-promised and under-delivered. It is common business practice for event organisers to hype-up their events to attract people to register for their events. It is wrong, however, for any company to mislead their customers by making unconfirmed promises which they clearly have not fulfilled come event day.
- Organisers are more concerned about the QUANTITY of total runners than the QUALITY of the event for the runners. It does appear that many new event organisers are more concerned about organising bigger events for bigger profits at the expense of improving the quality of their events for the runners. A viable event company knows how to balance the needs of the company to make profit with the needs and expectations of the runners.
- There is an obvious tendency for new event management companies to jump on the running craze bandwagon to make an easy buck. This is not a problem as long as event companies can meet the minimum safety and quality standards expected by the paying runners. However, I do have a problem when companies who call their events a “Run” when obviously most of the participants will be walking rather than running. Rather than make a mockery of running and genuine runners, I wish these concept events would replace the word “Run” with a more accurate description such as “Parade”, “Catwalk” or even “Selfiethon”. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, some people still call a 10km run, a marathon!
Be A Smart Runner
With the rising cost of living, it is even more important today that runners select the right events which will give them the best value for their hard-earned dollar. Based on my many years participating in hundreds of running events, I have compiled a simple guideline to help you choose running events that are worthy of your time and money.. Please note that selecting the right event is not a perfect science and personal preference does play a key part in how each of us determine whether we like an event or not. Nevertheless, my 12 simple tips below will, hopefully, point you in the right direction:-
12 DOs Before Registering For Any Race
- KNOW YOUR ORGANISER – Do they have a good track record or are they a fly-by-night company?
- AVOID ORGANISERS who provide very sketchy race information. A good race organiser will provide a detailed description of their event offerings.
- STAY CLEAR of events which are promoted exclusively online without any legitimate operating address.
- IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, THEN ACT WITH EXTREME CAUTION. The costs and procedures of organising a public run are pretty standard. So, if the event owner offers an unbelievable deal, then practice due diligence.
- CON IS FOR CONFIDENCE. Sometimes, the crook is clever to gain runners confidence and trust, before disappearing with your money. Be more wary of any new players in town.
- CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME. Many events claim that “part of the proceeds will be donated to a worthwhile charity”. Call the donation recipient directly and find-out exactly how much and how will the donations be handled once collected.
- BACKGROUND CHECKS. Use the internet or get advice from regular runners if you have any doubts about any organiser or event BEFORE you register for it.
- EASY TO CONTACT. Deal with organisers who are easy to contact and who are helpful and transparent.
- CHECK EVENT TERMS and CONDITIONS. Always check your rights before making any complaint, and make sure that you have legal grounds before pursuing any serious complaints. Seek legal advice from a lawyer friend if possible.
- PROPER CHANNEL. If you have been conned, take all your evidences and lodge your complaints to the right authorities dealing with Consumer Rights which normally falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry Of Domestic Trade.
- DO NOT ALLOW your passion for running cloud your sensible judgement and THINK before you register for any event. Do not succumb to the irresistible allure of a cool event T-shirt and a shiny Medal. Rather, ask the organisers in detail how they plan to manage the event and how do they intend to deliver on their stipulated promises. A good event organiser will have a detailed organisation plan in place well in advance.
- DON’T RUSH INTO A DECISION. I have seen running mates blindly register for events as soon as the ticket doors are open because they get carried-away by the commercial hype surrounding certain events and because of the peer pressure from their running buddies. Be a smart shopper, and take a step back and ask yourself first, why do you want to participate in that particular run because no one else can run in your shoes. In short, when you use your head rather than your heart to decide on which races to join, you will increase your chances of picking the right one. If you are unsure, then look for other races, and remember that you are the customer in the driving seat, and it is up to the organiser to prove to you that their event is worthy of your selection. Ironically, whenever I miss-out to register for certain events, I usually find a better one comes along immediately, trust me.
Run With Integrity
The standard of our running events are relatively low compared to overseas countries because we are relatively new at it. However, given the fast-growing market for local running events, it is important for Malaysian event organisers to start on the right foot, and concentrate their efforts on staging a few quality events rather than offering many half-measured events. Indeed, to raise the quality of running events in Malaysia, everyone involved in the running community – the runners, the running groups, the sponsors, the vendors, the volunteers, the authorities, and the community – must play their part in order to safeguard Our Running Future from over-commercialisation, and always keep the romanticism and free-spirit of running alive.
About The Author
Gus is the Chief Entertainment Officer of Running Toons and he is passionate about endurance sports. As a sports writer, he has contributed numerous insightful articles to The Star newspaper, Running Malaysia magazine, Cycling Malaysia magazine, Cycling Evolution magazine, Swim Bike Run magazine and more. LIKE Happy Runner and follow gusghani @Instagram.