Planners (Jayne Sales & Ian Webb)
Having run a number of urban races over the past few years I’d been thinking of planning one for a while. I had intended to start with something smaller, when someone suggested the City of London Race. Given I walk/run/bike/tube across the map almost every day it seemed like a feasible idea from a “distance from home” point of view, but a bit big to undertake on my own. Thankfully, Ian agreed to help me (though at the time he was meant to be moving back down South).
There were some legs I decided I wanted to try and include very early on. The Barbican was used extensively last year and whilst I wanted to use it this year I didn’t want it to be a focus. Hence the courses that used the Barbican had few controls there but with route choice between each of them. I was especially keen to have a leg between controls at ground level that included options of going around or over the Barbican Estate. I also wanted to use “which way round St Paul’s” as a route choice, which a number of courses did.
I know some people on the shorter courses were disappointed not to go into the Barbican (and some may have been pleased!). As ever with urban races there are certain things to bear in mind before the main planning can take place. Apart from permissions, these were mainly where we could cross Farringdon Road and the Junior & Children’s Courses, with the latter defining the finish, and to some extent the start. Kings College provided a good location for assembly, with stunning views, however being in the South-West corner made it difficult to get every course to the Barbican, without having a more remote start. Also, Ian and I were pleased to discover the new part of the map included some interesting areas (Bourne Estate & Red Lion Square). This led to having to make a decision whether to have the short courses basically go to the Barbican and back or to take advantage of the newer areas. We decided on the latter, which resulted in a number of courses not crossing Farringdon Road.
There are not many locations in central London where you can get traffic free courses. I thought the temple leant itself very well to this for the children’s course – if a bit on the short side. For the juniors I had various iterations but decided that putting the timed out crossing in allowed us to take advantage of the largely pedestrianized alleyways to the North of Fleet St, which I think worked pretty well.
Thanks go to Ian for being a great co-planner, questioning legs that I’d not really thought about and proving to be a great help and also to Ollie, for being happy to update the map with every single change (extra tree) we noticed.
I’d like to thank Jayne for inviting me to be involved in the planning of the City Race this year. Ultimately, my role turned out to be more of a course consultant than an assistant planner, and credit should go where credit is due. Apart from a few tweaks, and some slight re-positioning of controls, the final courses differed little from Jayne’s original ideas. I’m also grateful for the many hours she spent out in the field in the lead up to the event.
I think we faced all of the standard urban race challenges in the months leading up to the event. London has the advantage of its size, and the ability to extend the map in almost any direction, giving a little more scope and variety than other urban areas. However, it’s still a game of constraints and compromises, as Jayne has described in her comments. And various aspects, that you may have thought were guaranteed, can and will change at the last minute.
I hope that the courses that resulted were enjoyable and challenging – it seemed we’d hit the right balance from our wanderings around the Temple, from the comments of those I spoke to after their runs, and from the variety of routes appearing on Routegadget. Seeing happy but exhausted faces at the finish makes all of the effort worthwhile.
Organisers (Andy Robinson, Oliver O’Brien & Vince Roper)
Oliver O’Brien on behalf of the organisers:
Thank you to my fellow organisers, to the planners and the controller, and to the 90-odd SLOW volunteers who made things run smoothly on the day. Without such a team it would simply not be possible to put on a race this size – 1197 runners across the finish line – in an area as complex as the City of London (& part of Westminster, Camden and Islington boroughs). For the fifth year running we had a new assembly and start location, and were blessed with lovely weather – I feel sorry for CHIG who got hit by the rainstorm the following day.
Thank you also to the many landowners for giving us permission to run through and place controls on their land. Without access to the interesting, intricate parts of the City, the race would be much the poorer. Thanks to our prize supporters – Buff and the Porto City Race. And thanks to CLIF Bar who have supported us for all five years and provided that all-important energy bar for every finisher.
Next year the London City Race evolves. We’ll be doing something quite different – watch this space.
Controller (Alan Wallis, SN)
I hope you all enjoyed the event. Vince/Andy, Jayne/Ian and Ollie put a tot of effort into organising, planning and mapping, and were strongly supported by a large contingent from SLOW on the day. The assembly area may have been a little crowded at time, but would have been appreciated even more if the weather had not been so good.
As often with urban races there were a few issues with competitors crossing boundaries that were mapped as uncrossable or out-of-bounds. Many thanks to those people who, after their race and perhaps on discussion with fellow competitors, voluntarily disqualified themselves for transgressing. There are two issues in particular that we are aware of.
A few people on the longer courses may have crossed the north-south road marked as out-of-bounds at street level, i.e. not using one of the two mapped valid route choices at the viaduct or the pedestrian tunnel.
More significantly it seems likely that a significant number of people crossed the “uncrossable” fence immediately south of control 172 in the Temple. There is a gate at the western end of the fence that we understood would remain locked for the duration of the race (as it usually is every weekend). Unfortunately the gate was opened at an early stage in the race and remained open until around 11:00 am. It was surprising to see, in the period immediately after the gate was shut, the number of competitors who approached the fence expecting to be able to pass through it, which increases the likelihood that a number of people passed through it when open. We manned those Temple gates which were mapped as open to ensure they remained so throughout the race; and in hindsight we should perhaps also have manned those mapped as closed. My apologies for not considering this in advance, but there is also a limit as to how many ‘closed’ barriers it is practical to cover.
Although we examined the splits for the top few competitors on each course prior to the pirizegiving, for many courses the alternative routes are such that we can’t be 100% certain who might have transgressed, so at this stage have not disqualified anyone. I don’t think it entirely fair to remove the affected legs from the results, as this would penalise those competitors who read the map correctly and planned an appropriate route. However if you know you transgressed, either because you recall your route or because it is obvious from examining your results through Splitsbrowser or similar software, please reflect the spirit of the competition and voluntarily disqualify yourself by emailing london [at] cityrace.org. Your fellow competitors will of course be able to see if you have (not) done so!