(8 September 2013: This is about 2012’s race. For details of 2013’s route, click here.)
It’s that time of year again – well, actually, it’s later than normal – as the Run to the Beat half-marathon gets set to take to the streets of Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich and Blackheath. What do you mean, you hadn’t heard about it? Ah…
It’s the fifth year of RTTB, and while it’s certainly become a bit of a fixture for runners – 18,500 are due to be doing it this year, to music from 14 sound stages – it still feels an imposition, a huge amount of disruption for an event that’s much less fun (but causes more hassle) than the London Marathon. Maybe it goes back to that first year, which seemed by all accounts to be a bit of a weather-hit fiasco, and it’s just never managed to recover; but it’s always seemed an event which takes its hosts for granted.
I hate being a nay-sayer about this. I’d be gutted if I ever missed the marathon, but when I realised I’d be abroad during last year’s RTTB, I actually did a little jig of joy. I’m not sure I missed all that much, although you’re welcome to tell me it was great and I should stop being an old misery-guts.
That said, the organisers have at least sent some letters out explaining what’s happening, which much of the area locked in on Sunday 28 October. (If you’ve not had one, here’s a scanned-in version.) If you’ve had your copy, can you actually decipher it? It’s six pages of text attempting to describe a raft of road closures and diversions. I can’t work out which ones apply to me. The one thing missing is a map, which would make the whole thing understandable.
You know, a map like… this.
If you want the map which makes the letter make sense, you’ll find it in Greenwich Council’s propaganda weekly Greenwich Time. (Here’s a full PDF of it.) To get the full picture, you’ll need to have received both this week’s Greenwich Time and the letter from the organisers. Got that? And as for details of where the sound stages are? You’re out of luck there…
The RTTB website currently contains no residents’ information whatsoever, although you’ll find an information leaflet for competitors (“thanks to the Royal Borough of Greenwich whose streets we close”) with some clues about what’s happening, including the sound stage locations.
It all just feels half-arsed, as ever. Even if there was just a “thank you for putting up with us for a day”, I’d feel a lot more well-disposed to this corporate jog-fest. Instead, it’s just “here we are, you’ve got to lump it”. It was one of LOCOG’s biggest mistakes in the early days of Olympics planning – but Run To The Beat still seems to be falling into the trap of taking people for granted. It’s probably to be expected when you’ve been “working closely with Greenwich Council”, another body reluctant to deal with actual, real people.
I dunno, maybe it’ll be a lovely day full of community good spirit and everything will go sweetly. Or I might just creep out of town or stay in bed. Thankfully, I’ll be a bit of a way from the sound stages, whatever I do…