The Rock & Roll juggernaut drives back into town next August for an expanded weekend extravaganza of running races. 5k, 10k, half marathon and family fun run are all on the schedule along with the event being designated as the Irish Half Marathon National Championships by Athletics Ireland.
All in all it has turned into a pretty big deal and for many, the unashamed commercial nature of the event (R&R runs hundreds of events worldwide) isn’t that welcome on these shores.
I understand the ‘club race’ v ‘commercial event’ aspect of the argument – R&R will no doubt pocket mucho dinero and take it back to their US headquarters where as local club events invest in their facilities, communities, youth systems and the like. But if R&R were really that bad why are Athletics Ireland getting into bed with them?
The Rock & Roll events worldwide work on attracting as many entrants as possible – this is a good thing as far as I am concerned, the more people who get out and run the better. Their race ‘bling’ is substantial, sparkly and heavy. Very attractive to medal whores like myself. Run two races in the weekend and get an extra medal. Run a R&R event in two different countries and collect more medals – you get my drift.
My problem this time round is with their 5k and their ‘No U16s rule’. Why not? This is a running event for the masses, the more the merrier but not if they’re under 16 apparently. The continued growth of running in Ireland is dependent on sustained growth by letting children enter races that are fun and attractive. Sure R&R have a 3k fun run – but it is not timed and is clearly defined as not being serious.
Running a 5k is well within the capability of any child with a little training – the massively successful parkrun proves that every Saturday around the world. It can’t be because they’re not good enough because you can be sure they would beat many of the adult entrants on the day.
Insurance can’t be an issue as the aforementioned parkrun covers children running of all ages with the only stipulation being any child U11 must be within arms reach of their parent or guardian
With the very serious obesity epidemic facing our country children should be encouraged to get out and run. If organisers are afraid of the kids getting in the way, corral them at the back or make them run with an adult but don’t ban them altogether. What kind of message does that send?