Chair’s address AGM September 2014

Since joining, I have listened to Graeme sum up the year’s activity for the club. In my role this year it made me think a bit harder about the purpose of the address.  chair this year I will make no apologies for my address being lengthy, for I think a key role of this address is to celebrate members’ involvement in the club and their successes in running and other sports as well as setting out a programme and maybe even a vision for the next year or so.

I looked up the definition club apart from a small blunt instrument it is

“An association of persons with a common interest……but I prefer a body of persons combined for some social purpose”.

Last September I took on being chairman from Graeme with Margaret and Zoe picking up the reins from Tim George. We were handed the legacy of a vibrant and friendly running club, which was willing to cater for a wide variety of interests.

However we must not forget that Graeme and Tim stepped up when it was needed to ensure that Dursley and District Athletic Club survived. When I first started running with the club some nights one might count the number of runners on two hands three if we were lucky. However over these lean years the club continued to run the iconic Dursley Dozen and most years ran the Berkeley 10k Road race with money continually being donated to charity and club funds building up.

Just keeping the club going, publicity in the gazette, club cards and mad members accosting runners in the streets of Dursley led to a gradual increase the running membership with membership over the last 2-3 years steadily increasing and some structured training being introduced with “effort sessions” and RSFTN in the summer.

 

The role of Graeme, Tim, and Trevor Lewis in this cannot be underestimated. I must also mention the work of Ray and Mel Williams in organising both the Berkeley 10K and resurrecting the club handicap as well as Roger Newman’s unceasing enthusiasm for running and being prepared to provide an entry into the club. A special mention must go to Graeme who sadly is not here tonight to hear this eulogy, but after a year “in the chair” I am able understand the effort he has put in over the last few years not only acting as Chair but also running the Dozen. I think he and his wife Jane who supports both Graeme and the club deserve our thanks.

It was work by these and other members of the club that meant the new committee was provided with a sound basis on which to seek to develop the club.

The new committee stated the year with sense of purpose, we wanted to:

1. To improve the coaching resources within the club in order to improve the offer to new and existing members and also look to develop some activities for children.

2. To foster an improved relationship with the Rugby Club, as the move to Stinchcombe had been founded on the prospect of improved facilities and there was generally a feeling that things had not progressed fast enough. Importantly to get the “club shed“ erected so club equipment could be centrally stored rather than lurk in a variety of individuals garages.

3. To offer a range of social events that members would enjoy and give a greater sense of being a “club” rather than a bunch of individuals who happened to run together on a Tuesday night.

4. To improve channels of communication and the website as the window into the club

5. To start creating structures that lessened the pressure on individuals by sharing workloads and ensuring we could sustain activities in the medium to long term.

6. We wanted to achieve this development whilst continuing to deliver our race promotions, the handicap and getting teams into events such as the cross country leagues and Cotswold Relay

Let’s start off with whet we haven’t completed as yet

We have not improved the window into our club in terms of website development, we are running an outdated content management system that presents a quite antiquated face to the word. We have not achieved a micro site for the Dozen. This needs to be apriority for 2014 2015 and we will need to look to buying in the resources to achieve this if we cannot identify them within the club. Regardless of the implementation they is the issue of getting the correct specification and functionality so that the website not only looks good as a window tour club but also reflects our values and approach to sport and running and works for members.

We did not manage to organise the “Birthday Run” Painswick to Dursley in January which we had hoped would be the first club social run albeit a pretty long 14 mile one! The birthday boys were too elusive

We have not improved the lighting on the drive, we looked to include this into the specification for the Social Spaces Project with the Rugby Club. However their focus was on the internals of the club house. We have got agreement to progress this work so the next step is to come up with a specification and get some quotes.

In terms of participation in the cross country league we were unable to get a competitive men’s team out, although there were excellent runs from a number of members we were not able to make any mark in the senior men’s category and our vets whilst running well struggled to make an impact against the younger veterans

However, in this “to do list” is I believe quite short in relation to all the things  we have achieved this year.

2014 has been a year of business as usual but also substantial development. The work that goes into business as usual should not be under estimated

Business as Usual

We ran the 25th Dursley Dozen. The preparation for the 26th has already started, on lines entries up and running a technical T-Shirts being ordered, it as again a great success with enough Marshals in place and helpers in the kitchens, the “cleaning up party” is still an area where we need to improve the  involvement of “new faces”. We have identified all the tasks involved in the Dozen and we are continuing to develop a ”Race Committee” type approach with Tony Freer detailed to shadow Graeme this year , Erica to assist with the entries, Mark Waller sorting the marshalls. It is my intention to hand the catering over to someone else in 2015. I would just like to remind members that if they wish to run the event they need to provide a marshall to help “run the event”.

The Committee approach also was used to ensure the Berkeley 10K took place in the absence of Ray Williams who has been Race director for as long as I can remember.

The approach was generally successful in particular the organisation of the on the night entries ran very smoothly with a large number of volunteers ensuring that it ran smoothly.

Both of these events raise significant money for the club as well as providing donation to local charities this year £500 from the DD to RP Blindness and £500 Berkeley 10K for Caompaign4Rob

Profit on the 10K was down and on initial review this reflected increased charges for timing chips and an increase in prize money. A key lesson picked up from this is that handover of events is not straightforward and that it is crucial that the knowledge of the existing/previous Race Directors is shared, both through shadowing as well as committing knowledge and processes to paper.

The club has been a supported of the Cotswold Relay for many years and this year was no exception, well maybe it was! As this year we entered three teams (30 runners in total). Graeme warned me that there are always last minute drop outs and this proved to be the case but with some shuffling around we still managed to enter three qualifying teams, paid for by the Club. As ever we also organised the water station at Coaley Peak and the Relay runners on this leg were treated to the sight of scantily clad Brad ably assisted by quite a number of members.

The Club handicap was again organised by Ray Williams and friends this year. And just like the Relay although this was business as usual, it was immediately apparent that this was not the case with almost 50 runners turning up on the first night. This event has been well received since it was restarted by Ray but this year was certainly a high point in terms of participation (particular by new members) as well as performance with over 160 competing over the series and Dan Anderson going under 20 minutes over the course.

As well as doing the same old stuff, in some case at a significantly higher level The Club has see some development this year as well.

Running and Athletics programme development

Starting after the AGM the committee approved a number of members to get Run Leader and Coaching Assistant qualifications.

The idea of an entry level running course had been considered in 2013 but a hip operation got in the way! Hayden Smith was very keen to get something “up and running”.  So after meeting at the Old Spot with Roger and me a draft programme was devised and fine tuned with the coaching team.

Using posters but mainly thorough word of mouth 25 runners turned up on a dark January night for the first walk run session. Slightly down on the 32 who registered for the programme nevertheless of these 25, 19 consistently turned up, over the first few weeks this was no mean feat as the weather was miserable.

The feedback we got from the runners, which we sought on a regular basis, was that the programme was progressive but at the right level and in particular the “coaching” team were fantastic at looking after all levels of runners.

The programme was free and it was my view that if we got the programme right we would see people wanted to join us, especially as the programme ended as the clocks went forward so all of a sudden runners were running in daylight. This proved to be the case and after absolutely no hard sell 18 of the runners joined as new members and then they even started dragging their better/worse halves along!

This programme would not have happened with out the commitment of the “Core Coaching team” Alice Lewis, Zoe Lammerton, Margaret Johnson, Haydn Smith, and Kate Browning who were then supported by Mike Hanman, Zoe Fowler, Dave Wood, John Delafield, Tony Wooldridge and Roger Newman.  The amount of support from the team meant that the programme was able to run three groups that suited the abilities of the participants. Importantly this group also met to evaluate how the sessions were going and considered how to progress the programme. This fine tuning as we went on was another reason why the programme was so successful because it was “athlete centred”. Towards the end of the programme the “Sport Relief Run took place and coaches and other members supported a number of the Walk Runners around the 3 and 6 mile course. We also organised a final informal handicap run on the last session, which gave the runners a chance to evaluate their progress and in some cases be amazed at their journey.

Dursley Running Club has always welcomed new runners and has a friendly feel to it, this year we took these values and applied them in a systematic way to introducing people to running and Dursley Running Club. As a result of the programme and a steady steam of new members we now have 5 running groups with Group four often of considerable size. There is also now a regular Friday evening run formed by some of the Walk Run programme.

The importance of this progression cannot be underestimated as it means the club is more visible in the community and has more offer for both entry level runners as well as existing members.

The collegiate approach to coaching continued over the Summer with RSFTN restarting and developing a slightly different approach to allow all standards to participate not just in the 100/200m sessions which can be simply run for all, but using timed sessions rather than distance  to get longer interval sessions working for all. Using a 5 week programme I was able to hand the running over to Margaret, Zoe and Tony Wooldridge, who by sharing the load were able to run the sessions and coach the sessions. After several years of running sessions that varied from one athlete to around 12 turning up 2014 saw a much more consistent attendance with numbers high and getting over 20 on several occasions, with members of DRFC U15s also participating. Again all standards were involved

Whilst the Run Leaders led on this programme Kevin Jackson and the Coaching Assistants ably assisted by John Rogers got to grips with coaching youngsters again.  This involved more expenditure as we bought equipment. We were greatly assisted by John Rogers who brought Athletics equipment from his school which meant we could try things out without going to the expense of buying the equipment. The nine week programme was a success from the point of view of engaging with Rugby Club, with children from the under 12 and under 11 teams involved in the programme, attendance petered out towards the end of the 9 weeks. This was beneficial for both coaches and children as both could concentrate more on what they were trying to do. The lesson for us is to start earlier (after Easter) and finish sooner as well as “creating a “youth section membership” with a small membership fee that may increase commitment.

We to need take the lesson’s forward if we are to delver a sustainable programme for youngsters, in my view we need t get to a stage possibly by 2016 were we have at least three qualified Athletics Coaches  if not four.

Club Socials

The club has seen progression on the Social Side.  Few years ago we restarted the Clubs boxing day social run and 2014 saw us  up at golf course, again things were improving, not only mulled wine on offer but also bacon sandwiches courtesy of Mark and Kate Waller

Mouse and Zoe Fowler then organised a social run the weekend after the Berkeley 10K, we were blessed with fantastic weather and over 30 members and family enjoyed the running as well as a good meal afterwards. The routes sorted out by Mouse were great and the liaison with the Pub via Zoe ensured all went smoothly. (We need to give some though to wet weather planning in 2015)

At the end of July we also saw a celebration after the Cotswold Relay with a club BBQ again there was a great turn out and despite thunderstorms along the Cotswold Way all remained dry at Stinchcombe.  Again the organisers were key With Margaret and John Delafield at the forefront, with many others were involved in making light work of event.

We are a funny old running club, a very catholic group, Ultra Runners, Roadmen and Women, marathoners, fun runners, assault course bonkers runners, runners dressed as cows, batman and catwoman, triathletes, swimmers and of course cyclists. So after a bit of trying DRC managed to get a out a small peleton for a social ride over the Tintern Abbey and back. In the great tradition of DRC it was “no drop”. It was a great success with all enjoying a very pleasant ride across the Severn and back again. Many thanks to Tony Freer who organised the route and ensured we made it to a welcoming café.

We finished of this year’s club socials with an excellent Buffet and prize presentation at the last Club handicap.

In my view all these events are key in making the club a more cohesive body and are increasingly important as the club grows.

I don’t not see the club as just a collection of individuals who happen to run on a Tuesday or anther night of the week and who engage with people in their running group, but a group of people who mix and engage and get to know each other and share their different perspectives on running and sport and in doing so support both the growth of the club, themselves (as a listener/advisor/coach/friend) and other runners. A team.

 

Liaison with the Rugby Club

As I have stated one of the areas where we wanted to improve things was in our relationship with the Rugby Club. When we first moved up to the club it was a view that we would develop facilities for running, using our capital funding to assist this development. We joined with eth DRFC as affiliate members with part of our member ship fees due to be paid to the Rugby Club.

The relationship has been an uneasy one, both clubs have a tendency to be blinkered in terms of their own sport, and the nature of amateur/voluntary  organisations is that you are dependent on volunteers giving up their time and this means that things do not always run smoothly, as with people who are time poor things can drop through the net, so last year’s AGM ended up with a quick move from DRFC due to a double booking and the Cotswold Way BBQ  was an al-fresco affair with no access to the bar as work on the club house had started.

However what we do share is a desire to improve participation in sport and that this should include as many people as possible, an inclusive approach.  I believe the relationship is improving:

We organised training space over the summer for both adults and children, with a focus being to offer places to youngsters for the Rugby Club and Running Clubs members’ children.

To facilitate this training Paul Winterbottom mowed a 400 meter track and room for lane sprinting in the summer, and the offer is there to learn how to use the mower (a definite to do action!) We have an agreement in principle regarding the use of the new pitch and if necessary the pitches at the front over the summer

After some set backs regarding the location of the DRC shed we agreed a location and after a bit of stopping and starting the shed was finally erected last weekend. To me the erection of the shed highlighted how the relationship best works, we need to get things agreed in principle and then it is down to us to ensure we take the requisite action, in a timely fashion. Everyone with DRC gear in their garage a can now breath a sigh of relief and take the kit up to the shed!

Part of our developing our relationship has been our involvement in improving facilities on the site.

Whilst the big project that has now come firmly over the horizon is the Changing Rooms Project, the rugby club got the opportunity via a RFU initiative I to invest in the clubhouse. The Social Spaces Project.

It was my view shared by the committee that we should not just be freeloaders, if we went to partners with eth Rugby Club and use the facilities in such a way we needed to step up and be counted.  So after many years of sitting on substantial sums of cash this year we have now Committee approved the contribution of £3000 of club funds to the Social Spaces Project focused on improving the club house. The internals have been transformed the work and a new high tech media has been installed which we can use for a variety of uses rolling results on club nights. Their will be limited displays and the Rugby Club have agreed that we may showcase DRC in some way, at present I am thinking either Rich Pitt’s GB shirt if we can get hold of one or a picture of his victory salute in Edmonton!

The commitment of club fund the Social Spaces Project to and the prospect of helping finance the Changing room Project brought the nature of our “affiliation” to the Rugby Club into sharp relief. Since our move up to the club DRFC had changed its membership options with “affiliate/social members” merging into other Rugby Specific memberships and DRFC awareness of the running club as an “affiliate” was lost. Graeme had negotiated a £200 annual fee as part of the affiliation and this had fallen by the wayside. In the short term the Committee review and renegotiate our relationship with the Rugby club, in my view getting back to where started from at the very least and then taking a longer term view to take advantage of both clubs shared values and the opportunity this give us, as a club, to have a ”home”.

The Way forward

 

As mentioned there are two key projects outstanding that need to be taken forward:

· Driveway lighting

· The website

And then we have the continued development of the club

We need to continue to invest in our coaching and run leader resources, the programme we ran benefited from the presence of enough coaches/volunteers, if we are to improve our offer we need to ensure we can back this up with coaching resources and equipment.

In October structured training sessions are planned start. 7 O’ clock at the Rugby Club. Working on the same basis as RSFTN it will be a five week rolling programme up to Christmas.

We are looking at promoting the XC leagues an encouraging more male entrants, with the opportunity now there for both strong senior team as well as vets.

It is then planned to run another “Walk2Run” Programme Jan to March

After Easter our plan is to start RSFTN and Athletics earlier subject to liaison with DFRC and set up a Junior Section open to all for the summer programme. We need to ensure the facilities are right so getting lanes marked out to save coaches time is another priority.

To achieve this we need people to step up and be counted, some new posts have been proposed to create a more sustainable committee, but also looking for people to pick up roles that don’t have to be on Committee, just need to do the work! Results collator and Web site work two good example of this.

Finally and buy no means least the biggest project of which we are part of Project 2015, the Rugby Clubs new changing rooms project. We are committed to support this and ideally would like to have at least a couple of changing rooms dedicated to the Running Club. This is a major project running up to £500,000 when all is said and done. An in terms of resources I would like to see a “fund raising” coordinator and “facilities” coordinator in place to ensure we work with the Rugby club as effectively as possible. Improved changing facilities would be a major step change for us.

I am currently exploring funding opportunities with England Athletics, again if there is anyone with experience in this area of work please let me know.

The rugby club has set up “Ben Morgan’s ton up club” and they are hoping each member of the rugby club will raise £100 to go into the pot. We would encourage our membership do this.

Also the DRFC run a 100 club. Forms are available to take away

Committee will be considering options in terms of bids to funders, sponsorships, UKA/England Athletics grants/loans that might be paid back via income from our races.

As a part of this Graeme is now piloting a summer race the “4 Peaks”. The idea is to create an iconic summer race and in the process continue to improve our financial position so we can invest in facilities at the club.

I have set out or achievements this year and the way forward, and rather than go on to cover the achievements on foot, bike and in water I will pick these up at the awards. Suffice it to say it has also been a very successful year athletically speaking.

I would like to thank everyone who has made these possible, particularly my committee members, coaches, race directors and organisers of other events.

 

If you are not involved please think about it many hands make light work and we can continue to develop an exciting project, encouraging people to share the love of sport and in particular running.