After Boris eased lockdown restrictions, it fired the starting gun to boost mental health for millions. Last week, one of the sector’s governing bodies, England Athletics, published guidelines giving event organisers an official ‘green light’ to start staging organised races again, provided they are “Covid-secure”.
Co-founder of RunThrough Matt Wood, staged a very successful events day at Kempton Park on Saturday where 500 runners completed 5k, 10h, half marathon and marathon events. The website traffic on RunThrough was up 100% as runners stretched their legs, head outdoors and re-connected with race friends after the lock lockdown misery.
- 7 million people across UK (almost one in 10) turned to running or jogging to care for their mental health during Covid crisis, Macmillan Cancer Support survey revealed last month
- One in seven in UK (14%) told charity that going running or jogging had helped them to de-stress since the first lockdown last March
- 43% of UK runners exercising more now than before pandemic; 82% of UK runners say running plays a key role in helping them clear their mind during lockdown, according to survey by top running brand ASICS
- RunThrough’s first 2021 Covid-secure events attracted 500 runners on Easter Saturday April 3 when 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon events were staged at Kempton Park racecourse.
- BBC Television attended Kempton Park to report on RunThrough’s return event day, broadcasting live to 6 million viewers on BBC One’s ‘Breakfast’ show
The leading mass-participation running events and endurance sports organiser also announced plans to help host 200 races during the next year – a welcome Easter treat for Britain’s estimated 7 million runners.
“After last year’s lockdown, between August and December, we put on around 25% of all races in the UK, with Covid awareness measures in place. We’ve gained more experience than any other UK events company in staging events in this safe way.
“Now, after people have been cooped up in lockdown for months, huge pent-up demand from runners has built up. We’ve seen a major surge in bookings for our 2021 events calendar and our website traffic has shot up by over 100%.”
RunThrough Founders Matt Wood and Ben Green pioneered their ‘Covid Safety Protocol’ last autumn involving 20 strict measures ensuring runners and race marshals stayed safe.
RunThrough Covid-Safe Race video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WIvVUGNWNk
A Bit About Matt Wood…
Matt Wood, 34, an ex-England track athlete, who before lockdown staged 136 UK events in 2019 attracting 122,000 runners, added: “This year, we’re expecting our 200 events to attract between 150,000-180,000 people.
“Last year, we developed a blueprint for Covid-safe races. Before race day, to reduce contact, we sent out race packs to runners early so participants can arrive ‘ready-to-race’. When people arrive at our race village, they are greeted by marshals, some wearing full-face visors and all wearing PPE.
“As well as face shields, our staff also wear gloves to reduce the risk of germ transmission. We have sanitiser stations with hand gels and runners are discouraged from bringing belongings so we can reduce contact with others in baggage areas.”
RunThrough, who as well as staging mass-participation races also organise some of the fastest road-closed events in the UK involving elite athletes and regional championships, have employed other Covid-safe measures including:
- Runners are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to eliminate the need for water stations
- Group pre-race warmups are conducted at a socially safe distance
- Marshals are briefed to maintain distance from runners while keeping the same friendly relationship
- Queues for the toilet cabin facilities are distanced and cubicle hygiene
- Signs remind runners to observe a 2-metre social distance and no spitting is allowed
- At support desks, waist-high plastic sheeting protects stewards and runners from getting too close
- At the start runners line up at coloured cones are laid out at distances on the ground
“Our starts are staggered and runners are guided to set off in waves of 4 to 6 to ease congestion,” added Wood. “And fast runners are asked to give slower participants space when overtaking, of around 2 metres.
RunThrough Events was founded in 2013 by Matt Wood and Ben Green. They began their friendship in their teens at school exactly 20 years ago and went on to both become International distance runners. Today, powered by their experience as ex-England track athletes and their shared passion for running, RunThrough has grown to become one of the UK’s largest and most popular running event organisers.
During their last full year operating before Covid, RunThrough staged 140 events across the UK, attracting more than 140,000 runners. This year, as lockdown eases, they already have 200 events booked in.
RunThrough have staged events at many prestigious locations, including popular London venues such as Hyde Park, Greenwich Park, Regents Park, Clapham Common, Richmond Park and Battersea Park, as well as Hampton Court Palace, Knebworth House, Colchester Zoo, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Thorpe Park. They also collaborate with other major UK tourist attractions such as Aintree Racecourse, Tatton Park, Media City and many more.
Business duo Matt and Ben (Matt’s one year younger) work together closely as entrepreneurs. But as runners, they’re close rivals. Matt, who won an athletics scholarship to study Sports & Exercise Science at Loughborough University and also completed a Law Conversion Diploma in Law, frustratingly saw his pro career cut short in 2007 when he suffered a stress injury, breaking his femur. After surgery, and a plaster cast, he hobbled on crutches for six months.
In 2015, Ben, who also studied at Loughborough, had his own spectacular break. He broke the Guinness World Record at the London Marathon for the fastest father / son time, Ben running 2.30 and his Dad 2.31. Ben, from Warrington (Matt hails from Blackburn), now enjoys taking part in RunThrough events on a regular basis.
One of RunThrough’s missions is to encourage the promotion of active health in the UK and, by staging more than a thousand races over the years, they have made a major positive impact on their growing community. They are also proud to have raised money for a number of charities along the way.
The vibrant, health-conscious team behind RunThrough focus all their efforts on ensuring that runners who attend their events enjoy the experience, whether they’re getting a buzz from taking part in their first-ever event, chasing a Personal Best (PB), are taking part to benefit from boosting their physical health and mental wellbeing, or just want to enjoy the occasion socially and make new friends. For more details on events happening throughout this year head to the RunThrough’s website.