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ENTRY FEES and the OLDER ATHLETE



My competitive life in athletics has covered a span of 42 years.

It began when I was eleven years old and now, approaching 63 years of age, the urge to compete remains strong.

But this is now reaching its closing stages. I’m on the last leg of the relay. I’m clearing the final hurdle; taking my final throw.

And why? It is not through physical or mental fatigue. It is not because of old age. Neither is it through serious injury or crippling disease.

The cause is money. Clubs wanting too much of it and my not having enough of it.

I have entered a 5k fun run race rather than its big-brother 10k main event because the entry fee is half; in September, I am not entering a local half-marathon I’ve entered 21 times before - because it will cost me £14.

From October onwards, after my summer season ends, I shall pass on a large number of events. I have maintained a day-by-day training log that covers 9000 days and logs all my races. They average around 35-40 a year.

Only a few years ago, it seems, I could enter 40 races for about £150. Travel would add the same amount. The cost in 2007, with travel, is nearer £500. I’m no astrologer and neither can I read tea-leaves, but I forecast 2008 will see still greater hikes by money-grasping by Clubs greedy to feed on the status quo.

My wife is a competitive athlete, too, and I have always made a point of paying her entry fees. This was no problem until a couple of years ago because ….

…. I retired. I do have several hours paid part-time work and this generates my ‘pocket money’. Now, after paying an oft-exorbitant amount to enter a race I sometimes have little change for a Mars bar … and though a Mars bar ‘helps me work, rest and play’ it does not help me work, rest and pay.

A government that claims to encourage sport and healthy activities for older people does nothing to put its words into action.

Those over, say, 60 years of age should be allowed free entry to low-cost sporting events such as local running races around the lanes of rural villages and the like. I would not advocate free entry to a Himalayan marathon race or a Cross Sahara Desert race because the organisers may have specific heavy administrative events to bear.

By offering these free entries, local event organisers would lose little but gain much. They might lose a few pounds but they might not … they would not miss the income from older people who might otherwise have had no intention of ‘having a go’. What Clubs would allow them to gain, however, would be the new-found joy, health benefits and sense of purpose that sport can bring to them.

In the absence of a government initiative, Clubs can take a bold lead – or risk losing the race support of an older, dedicated athletic fraternity. I urge you all to act now – from the next race you promote.

We’re not just super-vets, we’re super-duper vets, too, so don’t lose us.
Many of us are retired and on low incomes.

Runners vote with their feet but run with their hearts.
 

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Cheer up Fulbourn and stop being so negative. This is 2007. You can't seriously expect entry fees to be the same as 20 years ago. I'll admit some organisations charge exorbitant fees. The recent Manchester Run was a prime example: £28 to run a 10K. But most clubs operate on a shoestring, they're not profiteers and are quite happy so long as they clear expenses.
It's all a question of priorities. I'm a few years older than you, on a State pension, but am quite happy to fork out for something I really enjoy doing. This coming weekend, for example, it's cost me £27 to enter three races in the BMAF Track & Field Championships. I'm not complaining because I realise how much it costs to hire the Alexander Stadium along with all the official judges, timekeepers, and what have you. Then of course I'll have travelling expenses and the cost of a hotel in Birmingham. But it's only a one-off so I'm not complaining.
On the other hand there are lots of cheaper races. Regional Vets Clubs (e.g. Northern Vets A.C.) put races on for three or four pounds. Entry fees for Fell races are as low as two pounds. I ran three races in the Northern Vets Track & Field League last Wednesday for just £3. I'm sure you'd find something to suit if you looked around.
So come on Fulbourn, be a bit more positive and get back to enjoying your running and racing.
Cheers!
 

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You do have a bit of a point Fulbourn but there are races you can enter cheaply. I recently ran a 5k in Gloucester which cost £3.50 and in the Southampton area every second Wednesday there is an inter-club race (ten clubs involved) which is free.

The government has pumped lots of money into sport but it has all been in the wrong place. None of it has gone to road or trail running which is popular and has great health benefits. A lot of it has gone into cricket pavillions.
 
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