With my spring marathon coming up, I've been running tune-up races around London. By chance, I entered two events put on by a new (to me) company, The Fix Events.
I thought I'd tell you what they're like. (TL;DR - they're not good, and inexcusably don't even have UKA race licenses).
The For Profit Race Scene
I often hear complaints from other runners about "for profit" outfits like RunThrough. The events are more expensive, and put on by a for-profit company, rather than in the good old days where every competition was put on by a local club.
This makes me roll my eyes, typically. Club-run events only draw club runners, and act (unintentionally) as a gatekeeper on the sport. And it's good that the sport is so popular that people can make a living by putting on races every weekend and having people turn up. Beyond that, it means that there's always a race - as a runner, I can schedule a tune up race on any day I'd like, and figure out what the race will be later.
But The Fix does it wrong.
Between the races, I realised that they aren't registered with UK Athletics. In the nicest possible way, that means that the results don't count. They don't show up on Power of 10. They can't be used as a qualification time for other events. There's no requirements for the accuracy of course measurement or timing. Races use UK Athletics for insurance, so I'm not even sure there's insurance.
It means that UKA safety standards aren't applied.
And most of all, it means that I've spent money on a race that doesn't give back to the running community.
There are other reasons I wouldn't recommend The Fix, and won't race with them again. But based on this, not only will I not enter another Fix event, but I don't plan on finding races on findarace.com either, as they are listing races without a UKA license.
There are good things about these races.
Both the races I ran are on established courses in popular London parks, which are quite nice. (Luckily, you can run these same courses without The Fix).
End of race Penguins and Haribo.
Generally, they were run well - number pickup was good. They started on time. They knew the toilets were out of order at Richmond Park and ensured there were portables. When you can't think of much that went wrong, it means a lot of things went right.
Not being UKA registered has an impact on entry. If you're looking for competition, you won't find it - if you run at a club, you're likely to be too fast for everybody else and find yourself alone.
Both events were put on too late in the day. Both days ended up being sunny, and The Fix does not arrange exclusive use of the paths. The result is that runners need to work harder at avoiding dog walkers than running fast. At both races, my final lap was made incredibly difficult by the need to weave through pedestrians.
The worst bit, however, was the marshalling at Crystal Palace forcing runners to cross each other's paths. Effectively, with bits of the course where runners were doubling back on themselves, we were met with the following:
- "Keep left" instructions for runners, followed by a right turn (through the runners going in the other direction)
- Winding paths with no markers or instructions to keep to the left or right
Running two events, I found the first one a bit disappointing due to crowded shared paths. I'm not sure how other races do it - maybe it's signage, more/better marshals, or paying better attention to the time of day and when the parks get busy, but it was easily my worst road racing experience for crowds ... until the second race which was even worse.
And that second race probably would have had me off The Fix for good, even if they were to be UKA licensed events. The second half of that race was simply spent dodging other park users AND other runners as the marshalling kept forcing us to run across each others' paths.
Then add in the lack of licensing - meaning the races are held to no standards in terms of accuracy of the course measurements, timing, or safety - and there's no reason to run a Fix event again