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THE LOGISTICS OF RUNNING (just for something different)

February 4, 2015

First of all apologies for not posting on here for a while. Perhaps the break has done us all good, maybe the anxiety of waiting for me to post has become too much to bear. But never fear, I’m back in business now that the training has begun for the early events of 2015.

Most of the preparation many see through twitter, facebook and instagram posts tends to look after the physical side of training. Normally people see the various apps acting as a training log (I’ll post a shorter training schedule in a couple of weeks, more when that time comes upon us), pictures of training venues, and even the obligatory snap of someone eating a post workout frozen yoghurt drowned in 15 different toppings. Today I’m going to focus on the side many don’t really see, the logistical preparations. Unless you reach elite status, which barring miracles won’t happen to me or many of the readers, simply planning for the entire trip for running events can be a nightmare.

It’s generally not so bad if you live in the big cities, where you may find several events within easy reach of either your driving capabilities or public transport. Of course some cities such as Melbourne drop the ball when it comes to getting to Sunday Morning events, so planning ahead for that is a key element. For those that live in the regions and country outposts, it does get trickier and expensive, for there may be only one or two events a year. So for a typical event, there are a few elements that need to be considered.

– TRAVEL: Going by air, road (car or bus) or train. Consideration has to go to costs, generally up here the train is often as cheap as the plane, but there may be only 1 or 2 chances to catch a train to head into the big city in order to make an event as opposed to anywhere between 5 and 7 flights depending on carrier. For events further away from the nearest Capital city, you may even look for a combination of transport options or even a combination of airlines for the bigger cities may have multiple businesses flying the same route. For example to get from Brisbane to Melbourne, you could choose any of 4 airlines with varying costs, although some of the cheaper airlines only fly a few times a day compared to the main carriers who fly almost hourly.

There is also the issue of getting to and from the event on race day. Some events work well with public transport authorities to organise public transport from centres around the city to the race precinct, Sydney does this very well with City2Surf and Bridge2Brisbane despite not expecting the demand for public transport at least provided this service. Melbourne can be a nightmare, with almost zero services on any service (save for the shuttle bus to and from Tullamarine Airport) between 5 and 7:30AM on a Sunday. If you find yourself staying in the outer suburbs keep plenty of cash handy for taxis or hope you know someone from that area to give you a ride. Of course if you stay inner city where the bulk of the events are and you are within a few kilometres from the precinct, travel can easily be done by walking, at least the muscles should get loosened up!


– ACCOMMODATION: Staying as close to the start area is a personal key, for as I found out on the Gold Coast last year you can waste a lot of energy waiting for taxis that are often delayed, particularly when early Sunday Mornings are often their busiest and most profitable time of the week. If you stay in an area handy to public transport it can be a lifesaver when it comes to the return journey in particular. Of course you may look to keep costs down, which can mean staying in real budget motels where sharing a bathroom/shower with other guests may be an option. I don’t recommend staying at or sharing a room in a backpacker hostel for running, unless of course you travel in a group with a common goal in a common event.

If you look hard enough you will also find package deals which event organisers have arranged with bigger accommodation providers. Personally I have never used that service but these generally involve a couple of nights stay either somewhere close to the event or at a place where a shuttle runs on the morning of your race. It can often include entry to the event, Wrest Point in Hobart offered 100 packages which included your race bib waiting for you in your room as an example.


– ENTRY TO THE EVENT: It’s common these days to see events have stages of entry with differing costs rather than having a single flat fee. Many events such as the City2Surf in Sydney lure early birds with the posting of your race bib which if you plan to travel on a Saturday before a Sunday event is a real time and lifesaver (as long as the postal service does the right thing and you put the correct address including postcode on your entry form). I insist that if that option is available then you should take it. If the postage option isn’t available (events such as the Gold Coast Marathon demand that you collect your own bib over a 3 day period) then you can theoretically leave entering as late as 2 days before the event, although shorter events with caps on the number of entrants make this option more difficult (generally bigger full marathons don’t have an entry limit). For events such as Melbourne I also like to collect my bib on the Saturday before the event in order to have my personal drinks organised. This can be linked to travel arrangements, for if you choose to collect your bib you will need to ensure you have plenty of time to get from the airport or bus/train station to the collection point, for some events are more sympathetic than others when it comes to trying to get your bib on race day.


– FINANCES: Keep in mind I have no qualifications in financial planning or anything to do with finances, so anything I say here should not be taken as what you MUST do. But from my experiences, I find that if you have a plan to fund everything then it’s more affordable to enter the event as a whole than you may realise. The way I look at it is that I get paid fortnightly (no loans available peoples!), and in that fortnight I know that I need to have something booked. Usually the hardest thing the to book closer to start time is accommodation, particularly rooms at the lower end of the market in the areas that are in the best proximity to the event. My experience is that it’s best to book about 4-6 weeks from the event, although you may get lucky with sites offering deals closer to the event if you’re that inclined. Flights are a little easier to come by, I generally confirm bookings about 3-4 weeks from the date. With so many events to enter, I try to make sure I book something but not everything in one block, for if something goes wrong away from the running there’s at least some money to use for what you really need, for at the end of the day unless you are an elite athlete this is just a hobby.


Of course there may be several other factors that I may not have covered, but of course I don’t profess to be an expert. This is just a little insight into some of the other things that runners like myself have to consider when formulating schedules. Speaking of schedules, it’s only 9 and a half weeks to Canberra, so I’d better get cracking on a training schedule!



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