Dearly beloved runners,
Have any of you heard of a shit sandwich? No? Well let me educate you...
When reviewing an individual or team performance for example, the sandwich model is used in the debrief. A positive (the bread), a point to improve (the shit), and a positive point to finish on (the other slice of bread) - just so folk go away with a smile on their face.
Having got that sorted, I’m going to use the above model to review the 2022 Summer Solstice Fell Race as run director.
Firstly, thank you for attending. It was great weather, but that can also put people off. I for one don’t like running in the heat. So well done.
The entries this year were busier than every other year prior, and currently in an environment where race organisers are experiencing decreasing numbers, this was obviously a bonus. Maybe this was due to the low cost of entry at just £5!
To that end we, the South West Fell Runners organisers, who are made up of local running clubs, passionate volunteers and small local independent businesses, are not big corporations who charge for deferrals, with huge salaries, flash cars and holidays around the world.
There is often an expectation of many races around today, of medals, goody bags, t-shirts, showers, baggage transfers, à la carte aid stations, neon-signed way markers, GPS tracking and the like.
Fell running is different. It’s billy basic. It’s start in a field, run over some hills, come back.
Car parking is often in a farmer's field; race registration is lucky if it’s under cover; and the helpers are just mates.
These fell races are put on because we are passionate about running in open country.
So what am I getting at...?
I think sometimes we miss the main ethos of fell running.
It irks me that often runners are short tempered because they either didn’t get their finger out and enter prior to race day - not the organisers' issue. Or they turn up with minutes to spare to get registered, expecting everyone else to wait while they harangue the volunteers to get a move on so they don’t miss the start.
Volunteers out on the course don’t need to be told the route is poorly marked, or they are in the wrong place. If route finding is an issue, recce the route, or follow someone. If I had my way, the route wouldn’t be marked at all. Fell running is not about being the quickest over the ground, it’s about finding the optimum route for you.
Unfortunately a few individuals temporarily tarnish what is always a great pleasure of putting on such an event. We are thick-skinned and the above goes nowhere near to making me want to throw in the towel. I believe if you don’t like something, don’t repeat it.
That being said, the performances on the day were incredible in what is a tough course. The sight of little tackers running up and down a hill rather than on some game console is always a pleasure to see and the ostentatious should be proud.
The course record was beaten, and the competition was excellent for both men and ladies.
It was also great to see a few younger folks running, ie under 40, and this should help our sport.
The next race is going to be great if the last one is anything to go by.
Thank you for your attendance, honest racing and good humour. We didn’t lose anybody, kill anyone or offend anyone too much.
Lastly, spare a thought for one guy who lost his car keys out on the run. I did the whole course tonight to make sure it was clear and couldn’t find them either! A long journey back to Exeter and back again with a spare must have meant a long night. Hope you got back safe.
Mind how you run.