The bib crash. Crisis and marathons.

24 Feb 2009 08:19
Jean-Loup Fenaux

I get a call from a recognised RD. He is in the race business for more than 25 years. He always thought quality should be attracted to the race field and had an amount ready for prize money. Top runners received a 1st to 10th cash prize. He talks like this:

- Luis, things are becoming critical. I need to cut costs somewhere.
- You are the boss, just say.
- Prize money is reduced 40% this year… and this and that…

He painfully describes what cannot be reduced for runners, and what has to. He has to consider this option or the race cancellation, he acknowledges his race is a low-key event. Rafael still thinks on road races with a minimum of official standards, chip timing, race measurement, press conferences and institutional relations. Oh, instiutions. That is a more than a mere word.

Tells me the amounts that are on stake for this year: ‘from 600 to 400, this other sponsors gives nothing, this one from 1000 to 200’… Awd, financial and cash crisis, he is told. Institutions included, those that we are told to pay increasing taxes every year.

But he is reluctant to see that road running events are always like that. Low key business, nothing compared to Parades, major Fairs, soccer, road running has quite little lobbying pressure. Towns and regions and governments still think we are an amateur bunch of crazy maniacs. We should be running freely in the countryside. No money should be destined to traffic cutoffs, promotion, organisation of … ‘what?, a marathon? Nah, too much fuss in our town. What about a nice 10k?’

I know him for years. Sponsors delay payments. Institutions delay help. And he has to face his RD tasks with the uncertainty of what could possible happen if the supply is withdrawn. Not only this year, that is the question. Along the period of financial bonanza he went on calling the same sponsors, and got similar reactions. Perhaps society somehow rejects spending money on marathons. At least in some countries.

Do you know similar cases? Tell us.