My running is coming along nicely now and I'm regularly putting in the miles. Last year I only did 3 official races, other than the 3 free 5k Parkruns. This year I plan on doing quite a few more, so I've decided to join a running club.
At the moment, I don't need the services of a full running club. I have my own training programmes and goals and don't have the desire to join a proper running club and join in the club runs etc just yet. Most of this stems from the fact most clubs I've seen in the UK have a tendency to concentrate on the two extremes of running: marathon or track. They do a little in between like cross-country and shorter distance road running, but don't seem to put the same emphasis on these as they do for marathons or track. As I'm doing neither extreme at the moment so I decided to join an online-only running club, or what I like to call an "e-club". I've joined the...
For the princely sum of £16 (£15 membership + £1 PayPal admin fee) plus another £20.99 for the vest, I am now a fully fledged (well almost, I'm waiting for UKA to "unlock" my URN) club runner in the UK and I have the vest to go with it.
"So why join a club if you're not going to take advantage of the club runs etc?" you may be thinking. Well it's all about economics my dear Watson. Most UKA affiliated races in the UK charge on average £2 more for non-affiliated runners than they do for affiliated runnings. I believe this has to do with insurance. As an affiliated runner, you will be considered in county/country championship races (if you're that good). There could be other benefits with being affiliated but I'm not sure what they are. If anyone else knows, feel free to chime in.
One thing that struck me as a bit odd with the UK's licensing system, as becoming a UKA affiliated runner is essentially licensing, is how little is actually involved and how there is nothing to identify you to others that you're affiliated. I'm used to the South African system in which you register with Athletics South Africa and in return you receive a fabric race number to sew onto your running vest. This number is valid for a year and clearly indicates you're a licensed runner. This has the added benefit that you don't have to pin paper numbers onto your vest at each run (you need to do this in the UK) and thus you cut down on landfill, safety pins and paper cuts. In South Africa, as a licensed runner the only thing you get when you register for a race which doesn't provide it's own numbers like the Comrades or Two Ocean's marathons, is a little sticker in a small plastic bank bag which you pin to your shorts/shirt and then hand in at the end of the race. If the race uses timing chips, you don't even need them, but they're often used as a manual backup. Maybe we'll see something like this in the UK in the future, though I'm doubtful as there seems to be a fair amount of animosity towards UKA and the whole registering/affiliation thing. I'm not entirely sure why but I suspect it may have something to do with a change in the way the affiliation process several years ago. If someone has more details, I'm intrigued to know.
So I'm now an affiliated runner and have several races lined up for the summer.