We all know how difficult getting a place in an event like the Great North Run or the London Marathon can be. These days even local races like North East’s Blaydon Race or the coastal run are filling up within hours of going on-line.
The problem is simple, running has become the victim of its own success. More people want to run that there are places available and the problem is compounded when you run trail races or ultras. The logistics of getting large numbers of people onto trails then getting marshals, water and other essentials to them, simply does not lend itself to large numbers.
Traditionally this wasn’t a problem as fell or trail races were almost an underground sport, few people knew about them, fewer still ran them. You could turn up in your shorts and trainers, and sign up on the day, but over recent years with the popularity of books like ‘feet in the clouds’ and ‘born to run’ even these events are beginning to draw larger and larger crowds.
There are only around 20 100-mile races in the Uk and each catering for between 100-300 runners. Unlike their road running equivalents the majority of places go directly to runners on a first come first server basis, many selling out on the day they are put online, without club or charity allocations.
The big question is, where does the sport go from here? With both trail marathons and ultra’s becoming ever more popular, is there a sustainable way to get more people out running on out trails without damaging the fells.