I’m supposed to be writing an essay about distributive justice today, but there’s a bit of a stink being kicked up online about the fact that there weren’t enough t-shirts and medals for all runners at yesterday’s Bristol 10k (and possibly not enough water in the finish area).
Unlike with the fiasco at the Sheffield half marathon where the organisers blamed the water provider for not delivering, who then pointed out the fact that they hadn’t been paid and had advised that they would not deliver without pre-payment well in advance, the run bristol team were quick to apologise and confirm that medals and t-shirts would be sent out to those who did not receive them. At this point it might be worth pointing out that the run bristol team has one employee, who works for Bristol city council, and everyone else is a volunteer.
Organisers of races can’t seem to win. They ordered 9,500 t-shirts based on previous experience of how many people actually show up versus how many people register (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-27356932) and 9,872 people toed the line. Clearly, there was a shortfall and run bristol have been very clear that they are sorry and will be correcting the issue. T-shirt size was one of the fields taken on the online entry form, so hopefully that can be used (though how many people took a different size, or more than one medal, or several bottles of water will never be known). I ran the Bristol 10k, half marathon and the off-road 10k all organised by run bristol last year. At the off-road 10k we got water-bottles from the half marathon, so they must have over-estimated how many people would show up for that.
Unfortunately you only tend to hear from people who had a bad time, and the local news were looking for people who were annoyed to talk to (they didn’t seem that interested in people who had a good experience). Goody bags are always at the whim of the sponsors and vary in contents, there are very few that I can remember as being awesome (though the drinks bottle for the half marathon was a bonus last year), they always tend to be a mix of sample sizes of shampoo, some sort of confectionery and a shedload of leaflets advertising other races.
Races are expensive to enter. The Bristol 10k cost me Â£25 plus a Â£3 processing fee.
For that money I got:
– technical t-shirt (costs money)
– medal (costs money)
– accurate chip timing (costs money)
– a closed road course (involves the red tape of road closures, re-routing buses, etc.)
– marshalls (volunteers)
– finish line commentary
– pre-race entertainment
– bag storage (RAF this time around)
– goody bag (random)
– on-course water (costs money, Sheffield I’m looking at you)
– clear-up crew (volunteers)
– first-aiders and on-course ambulances
– timing cars (cost money)
– km markers
– 2 wave start
To compare, the Bath half marathon this year cost me Â£35 plus Â£3 processing fee and I didn’t get a technical t-shirt but a cheap cotton one instead (the technical t-shirt could be purchased separately for Â£20). The only other major difference (apart from the distance, and it was a two loop course in Bath so that cuts down on the number of roads to close and marshall) was that there were sports drinks as well as water out on the course, and some weird gloopy chia seed stuff in the goody bag.
So I just want to say thank you to all of the volunteers who put on the Bristol 10k and made it happen. It’s not easy and it’s hard to feel like you’re getting bashed when you were doing the best you could with what you had. Thank you also specifically to Georgette, who is run bristol and who must be being overrun with media requests and emails today in addition to the usual day-after tasks (which must be numerous). To those who didn’t get their t-shirts and/or medals, I am sorry. I feel for you, but hopefully you will get them soon and if not I will give equal space to that.