Thursday, August 30, 2012

Message from the organisers of the Charleville Half-Marathon

From the organisers of the Charleville Half-Marathon.....

The Charleville International Half-Marathon has decided to raise the bar a little bit in terms of what they offer to people with the race they have put together this year. It would be very easy for a small athletics club of volunteers like those in North Cork AC to just follow the model that most other races do but they have decided to make a stand and be ethical about how they organise their race in a number of ways. Through their race they want to give something extra back to both the sport and the local community. The main emphasis which they want to put on organising the race is to provide as good a quality race as possible;

Therefore they have decided to be a little bit different in the following ways;

1. They are getting their course measured and accredited to International standard and therefore they will be the only stand-alone half marathon in Ireland which meets international standards. The measurement and accreditation is done through AIMS (Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) which is the main organisation who work in co-ordination with the IAAF to ensure standards of race organisation in road races are to the highest level. Getting the course measured to this standard will ensure that participants in the race can be sure that the course that they run is accurate and that their time is correct. Not only this but their time will be recognised abroad in International distance races who often require qualifying times or times in order to classify runners into chutes at the race start. This may seem like a small thing to non-runners but any runner who takes their running a bit seriously will appreciate having an accurate time on a flat course which they can use to gauge their progress in the future or use to enter a major distance running event which they may want to attend abroad. As part of ensuring that participants get an accurate time they are also employing the highest quality chip-timing available through Championchip. This is the company recommended by AIMS due to the fact that their technology has been shown to be of the highest quality available. There has been a tendency recently for a lot of races to use cheaper versions of this technology but there has been numerous instances where this has gone wrong and participants are left without an official time or splits from their race. These are just some of the extra features which North Cork AC is implementing into their race to provide the best quality of race possible.

2. They are allowing participants the flexibility to choose whether they want a race t-shirt and medal or not. Both the race t-shirt and medal are of high quality and they are very reasonably priced at just 5 euros each. Most races will include the cost of these in the price of entry. However this flexibility in entry options allows people that extra bit of choice which they would not normally have in most races in Ireland. Most races will not take the extra financial risk of allowing for this flexibility and they prefer to ensure that everyone takes the t-shirt to advertise their race further. However, as an athletics club North Cork AC recognise that some runners won’t want medals or t-shirts because a lot of people already feel that they have too many so they don’t want to charge participants for something that they simply do not want.

3. The club are taking responsibility in their role as an athletics club to promote and help to develop the sport as effectively as possible. The main way that they are doing this is by providing a high quality fast course which everyone can benefit from. However they also see it as important to help to support athletes at the top level of our sport in Ireland and give them prize money which respects the quality of the performance they give and which they have trained to achieve through significant personal sacrifice. While they are not able to help these athletes fund their trips to the race they have secured direct sponsorship of these athletes’ accommodation through the kind sponsorship of the Charleville Park Hotel, which is also offering reduced rates to all participants in the race. North Cork AC are hoping that they set a precedent which other races will follow in order to help the movement to raise standards in the sport. While many in the sport are happy to sit back and criticise our best athletes about their performances, North Cork AC are recognising that it is the responsibility of everyone in the sport to play their part in the development of the sport as a whole. The athletes at the top level in Ireland provide the inspiration for future generations to continue to pursue the sport through their junior years. Unfortunately in recent years there has been a significant drop-off in participation in the junior ranks and this is largely due to the lack of support and incentive to stay in the sport in a modern society with a lot of easy alternative choices. The discipline of distance running is already a hard enough lonely pursuit, despite athletes having to bear the significant financial burden which is incurred in pursuing the sport to a high level in modern society. Therefore while the prize money is not as significant as that offered in other countries, North Cork AC are doing their best as a small athletics club without any major sponsor to provide prizes of reasonable value which will in some way help to offset the financial cost of training at such a high level of some of the athletes who will be lucky enough to make it into the top 8.

4. As an athletics club they feel that it is reasonable that they use this race as a fundraiser to further promote and develop the sport of athletics in their local area. It would be very easy for a club to just focus on looking after just senior runners and not provide any juvenile athletics programme. However it takes a lot more effort and money to promote and develop athletics at juvenile level. In the current economic climate the club aims to help people with young families to allow their children to participate in the positive sport which they provide because they realise these young families are sometimes those who can least afford to pay the entry fees to races and all the other various costs which can be incurred in pursuing the sport of athletics. North Cork AC is trying to redevelop athletics in an area, which once had a rich tradition in the sport, and are trying to do this by offsetting the cost of these development efforts. Obviously there will be some runners who feel that they shouldn’t have to contribute towards this and that they should just pay for the cost of the race, but what they may be forgetting is that the sport of distance running has been developed over many years by volunteers and officials from the sport of athletics, so North Cork AC feel that it is only fair that participants in all races should give something back to the sport which they are able to enjoy so easily in order to allow future generations to enjoy the sport in a similar way. They are simply trying to build sustainability into their race and the sport in the long term. If there are new generations of runners coming into the sport, then there will be new generations of people willing to organise events such as this race, and organise them to the standards of quality which are not always encountered at races which are more commercially orientated.

5. As an athletics club in a rural community, North Cork AC recognise that it is important to give back to the community which supports them in many different ways throughout the year. Therefore last year they donated half of the profits of the race to local charity St. Josephs Foundation. The club is hoping to again make a similar donation to express their gratitude to the foundation which allows them the use of their facility for both training and this competitive event. CEO of the Foundation, Conor Counihan expressed his delight to North Cork AC secretary Michael Herlihy on hearing that they will again be holding the event in Charleville. The foundation has suffered financially in a similar way to many charities around Ireland with government financial cuts, so the club hopes that it will be able to do its part in contributing to funds which will give families of clients of the foundation the funds to afford things like respite care and give their clients the ability to achieve a level of independence which they would not otherwise be able to achieve. St. Josephs foundation are organising their own fundraising event which is mainly orientated towards cyclists but they will also be holding a non-competitive fun run. Both the 90km cycle and 10km run/walk are being held this Sunday 2nd September at 12noon from the foundations grounds. Those interested can register online at or on the day between 11am-11:45am.

Many club races do not push the boundaries like North Cork AC and so in pushing the boundaries a little bit they expose themselves to risk and criticism. However the young vibrant club is determined to not let those that they push out of their comfort zones get them down. There is a slight increase in the entry fee of just 5 euro’s up on last years price but this is to ensure that they achieve all their very positive objectives and can continue to ensure the future of the race into the long term.

It is refreshing to see a race provide something different which demands better quality and choice for runners. Participating in Charleville on Sunday September 23rd is doing more than just competing in a quality race, it is voting with your feet for better standards of events and for a sustainable approach to developing distance running and athletics in Ireland. For those who want to enter the race and find out more details about it, North Cork AC have provided a comprehensive website Postal entry forms are available by contacting Michael on 086 3168954 or emailing