As you probably know, we spend a hell of a lot of time either taking part in, writing about or watching running events over at The Allrounder. We’re kind of a bit obsessed with it to be honest. Although that does beg the question why aren’t we actually that good at it? But we’ll leave that for another time
There’s a lot more to running than just, well, running. There’s diet, stretching, gym training, and, if you’re like us, race prep. Now when we say race prep we mean the whole process, searching for events online, making sure you don’t spend too much money of them, buying kit for them, booking your train tickets – and that’s all before we’ve even started training for them. A hell of a lot of planning is involved in them, trust us, we lose entire days.
We’re not going to talk about that now though. Instead we’re going to look at things from a different angle, a side of running events that we rarely pay that much attention to – the event planning side. Okay, so we didn’t come up with the idea on our own. A couple of weeks ago we ended up having a chat with Matt Wood co-founder of RunThrough, the London-based events team that seem to be multiplying their races on a monthly basis.
Matt, amongst various other topics (he’s a very chatty bloke) spoke to us about what was involved in managing a running events company. We’d never really ever thought about it before. Apart from occasionally moaning about lack of toilets, the whole event management side of things we’d always just kind of ignored. Not any more though. Instead of us relaying it back to you, we decided to do a little interview with Matt, he knows a lot more about it than we do.
Why did you set up RunThrough?
When we decided to start RunThrough we wanted to build a running community which included events that were truly organised by people who cared about running itself. We didn’t aim to be the only community, but if we could help bring people together so that they could find a fit for them within something we organised, then that would be amazing. To help understand why we love running I’d say it’s in our blood, it’s all we know and we want everyone we come across to feel that buzz we get.
Both Ben (Ben Green) and I (Matt Wood) raced against each other as junior athletes back in the North West of England. We both ran at international level over 800m/1500m (mile) on the track and we both ran for Loughborough University. My dad is chairman of the North of England Athletics Association and ran a 2.31 Marathon, while Ben and his dad broke the world record at the London Marathon in 2015 for the fastest father/son time, Ben running 2.30 and his Dad 2.31. We run, we are runners and now we put on running events. I can’t thing of anything else I’d rather be doing with my weekends.
To add to that, we love events and the people we meet along the way. I’v personally worked for Great Run, London Marathon and UK Athletics over the years, so it was inevitable that eventually we would start doing our own. That happened back in 2013. We imagined we may start doing more events but we never imagined how many people it would allow us to meet and interact with every time. The first timer runners, the people with an ambition to run a certain distance for a great cause, the people who want to break a PB and the elites who compete to win. I enjoy seeing everyone at every stage, and that’s why we set up RunThrough.
What’s your relationship with running?
As I mentioned above, our relationship isn’t “complicated” it’s “married”. I need it physically, I need it mentally and I know Ben feels the same.
What’s it like to manage a running events company?
I could lie and say it’s a breeze. It’s not. No event is the same. There is never an event that doesn’t have something we needed to improve on, fix right there and then or leave us fully satisfied. From the 300 people events to the 4000 people events. They all keep us on our toes, we just don’t want to let anyone down either, so every moment is taken seriously.
Who would you say your events are aimed towards?
I’d like to think we cater for all levels of runners, mainly because there are so many different levels of runner that come to the events. When you’re busy organising on race day it’s sometimes hard to see the demographic of people, or at least give yourself a moment to step back and gauge that. However we organise a running club once a week as well as the events (it’s free on Monday night at Clapham Common – 7pm). It’s here where we can see what kind of runners we have, from the 30 minute 10k runner to the 90 minute 10k runner. On an interval session, we all start together on each rep. You can see clear as day on these sessions that there is no difference, we are all runners. No matter what the pace. We are all different but we are all the same. I hope this transfers over into our events and others feel it too.
What are your favourite bits?
I love meeting people and finding out their story, so when I go round and chat to people at an event and see how they have got on. That’s my favourite bit. If I’m finding time to do that on event day it means the event has gone to plan, so that helps.
What are the most difficult bits of the job?
The set up of an event in bad weather. Sometimes we are only given access to a venue at 5am/6am (would be better to be allowed the day before but sometimes it’s not possible) and we are standing there in the dark while it’s raining/windy, with a load of people staring at us waiting to be told what to do while everything is being blow away. Preparation can only take you so far, sometimes the elements have a say.
What do you think is important about the London running scene?
The communities within it. London can be a lonely place and running is a healthy, cheap and practical way to meet and spend time with like-minded people. We all live so close together but sometimes it can feel so far away. The events we put on and the running clubs out there that have their members pounding the streets, canals, parks and running tracks all have that one think in common, community. The loneliness of the long distance runner doesn’t have to exist in London if you don’t want it to.
What’s next for RunThrough?
More of the same I think. We are enjoying our mid-week series and are close to announcing a couple of larger events around the London area so that will be exciting.
Who designs the medals (we’re a bit obsessed with them)?
Glad you like them! We all pitch in ideas and then I physically design them all along with my friend who’s a cartoonist. He can draw some pretty cool pictures. If anyone has any ideas on design then feel free to email them over – we can have a go at designing them for an event.
For more information on RunThrough and the massive list of events they’ve got coming up over the next few months, head over to the website here. Oh, and here’s a picture of one of their medals – we told you they were good.
Picture Credits: RunThrough