The XC season is over (*sobs*) and it’s been quite a year for the Eagles. We had the highest ever participation for Met League and I think and hope that many found their love for the sport or overcame hesitations they had before entering. Our Sunday League participation saw a drop compared to previous year but still had a core of dedicated attendees (often also keen on the Dirty Double, with both the leagues on the same weekend).
On Monday, 15th April, Met League held its AGM. The Main Administrator, Jan Bowman, pointed out that it’s the biggest turnout she’s ever seen, most likely much down to the proposals regarding equalising distances that had been put forward. Before we get to the summary of those, some other things to keep in mind for the next season.
Not only for the Eagles was this the biggest Met League year ever, the league itself had record participation at Wormwood Scrubs with 293 female runners and 547 male runners. The new declaration system, where captains and team managers add and update the race numbers on a web system had made the overall administration much easier and allowed the results to come out quicker. There were some grumblings about having to get the final details in before 19.30 the same evening or otherwise have the runner’s points disqualified. Some clubs with incredibly high participation numbers feel this pain more than others, however in order to get the results to Athletics Weekly in time, the deadline has to be kept. If you are a runner and want to make your captain happy - please be organised with your race numbers and avoid their Saturday evening panic.
The website will be updated to a new one, exact details or timeline were not given but we can look forward to a new look.
Next season, 2019/2020, the scanning of the juniors’ race numbers will no longer be manual. For the seniors this will still be the case but with the hope of automating even theirs for a near future season. There was a special request to have more females help out with the funnel management. This is specifically for the juniors (but welcomed for the seniors race too) in case there needs special intervention for the girls, eg as they collapse at the end of the finish, or feel ill. In general, more stewards for managing the ropes at the funnel are needed as those helping out now often need to aid with officiating and/or have age catching up with them. More on the volunteering contributions further down.
In previous year, athletes have had the same number throughout the season, even if they have forgotten to bring theirs to the race. However careful captains are, this means that every race there’s an issue with duplicate numbers, as old ones are given out to new runners. To avoid this for next season, a runner who forgets to bring their old number will get a brand new one, and the captain updates their number in the entry. If you (and most of you are) are organised, you can hold on to the same number throughout the season. For the captains, this is also the strongly preferred option as there’s then both more numbers for new runners, but also less time spent on their phones in the pub afterwards.
There were several proposals put forward for equalising the distances between men and women. Most clubs, including us, had done some polling internally to gauge what the members though. Several of the clubs had seen a low participation in the polls (we had approx 30 responses, from both genders) and the results had rarely been landslide victories.
The first proposal to be voted on was the one put forward by the League Administration, proposing that senior men and women both run 8km next season, with the intention of reviewing the effects of if at the next AGM. The Administration highlighted that the other proposals, with varying effect on different events, would make the time-tabling highly inconsistent and frequently risk participants missing the start of their race due to continuous change. They are not very keen on making the men’s race shorter for two main reasons: the funnel would need to be expanded to deal with an even higher load than they currently experience (which additionally would require more volunteers as well as complexity) and for the races with a flat finish they were concerned about the speed the runners come in at. To some extent these are already challenges, which would be enhanced if races were shorter and the men were running faster as a result.
This proposal was voted through with 14 votes for and 4 against. The proposal will affect the timetable which will become as follows:
U11 girls 12.25, boys 12.30
U13 girls 12.40, boys 12.45
U15 girls 13.00, boys 13.05
Senior women not before 13.30. men not before 14.35.
With this proposal having gone through, several others were not voted on.
London City put forward the proposal to equalise the veteran ages, which this season have been V35 for women and V40 for men. The IAAF standard is V35 based on medical reasons that the body at that age starts breaking down at, however England Athletics leaves it at the discretion of races to decide what they classify as veteran. With the veteran categories not being given any prices and the league being an amateur one (although competitive), the proposal was voted through.
Divisions One and Two will be expanded to hold 12 teams each, compared to the current 10. This is, to the Administration, much preferred over introducing another another division as that would introduce an administrational challenge much greater than expanding the current ones. As a result, no relegations will happen this season and an additional 2 teams (ie total of 4) will be promoted from Division Three to Division Two. For us, this means that Ealing Eagles B men’s senior will be promoted to Division Two, as well as women’s senior veteran’s B team. The women’s senior B team will definitely be in contention for promotion if our turn out and performance continues like this year. There will be a proposal next season to add some rules that stops C teams from entering Division One.
Harrow Athletics Club’s application to join the league was granted and the fee for guest runners was increased from £4 to £5 (mostly to make it easier to give change). U11 courses are now allowed to be up to 2km instead of the previous 1.5km.
This year, there was a continuous request for the clubs to provide volunteers for the fixtures and this will now be formalised. More volunteers are needed for the various officiating roles (no special qualification required) as well as funnel management. For the coming seasons, club will be expected to provide volunteers and suggestions were made to not only make it more clear what the volunteering roles were but also the time slots for them (in case people wanted to race as well). It’s worth highlighting again the need for more female help around the finishing funnel for the junior races as well as the running the rope back and forth for the men’s races specifically. There will hopefully be a parkrun style “future roster” scheme to allow clubs to sign their people up, which will also help identifying which clubs might not be bringing their straw to the stack.
For many of you, the outcome of the votes might not have been what you wanted. If you at the end of the season feel very strongly about it, then please make sure that the captains are aware and raise a motion to change it. We very much hope that our participation levels in the league will not be impacted drastically as we hope that the races bring more to the participants other than just the distance. Especially for those ladies who were very pro the equal distances, we’d like to emphasise that the change will be reverted unless you turn up! We look forward to seeing you all back for Type 1 and Type 2 fun out there, both running and volunteering.