THE RACE WALKING ASSOCIATION
Technical Information for Event Organizers

The R.W.A. is keen to encourage the promotion of walking events in new areas and a number of items of information may assist the inexperienced organizer.

If you are used to promoting running events, you will find that the same general principles apply with variations arising from the technical requirements of race walking. The following subjects are dealt with here.

PROMOTING RACE WALKS ­ I THE BASICSWhy do it?  Finding a date  Track or road?

PROMOTING RACE WALKS II THE TECHNICALITIESCategory of the race  Permits  Levies  Officials Permission  Risk Assessment  Insurance

PROMOTING RACE WALKS ­III  PUBLICITY

PROMOTING RACE WALKS IV IN CONCLUSION

I THE BASICS

WHY DO IT?

Whatever your reason may be for wishing to promote a race walking event you should bear in mind that it is not a way to make a lot of money, as entry fees (and perhaps the sale of programmes containing paid advertising) will have to meet the costs of hire of premises, numbers and pins, prizes or trophies, refreshments for the competitors in longer events, officials' expenses and first-aid cover. If you are able to attract sponsorship from a local company or organisation, so much the better, but remember that they will want their name publicised in return. There is no objection to calling an event something like "The Bloggs & Co. Open Race Walks".

The main reason for promoting a walking event is simply to provide the competitors with a race. This may be an event open to anyone who wishes to enter, or you may feel inspired to put on a County, Area or National Championship. You may, again, wish to give an opportunity for race walking in one of the "fallow" areas of the country, in which case you will need to make your race attractive enough to encourage the participation of walkers from far afield, as well from nearby.

FINDING A DATE

The number of active race walkers is limited, so if you wish to have a good level of participation in your event, you should try to avoid clashing with another one, especially one that is well established and has its own loyal following. In fact, if you choose a date that does clash, you may well find that you are refused a Permit! You are, in particular, very unlikely to be given a permit if you clash with a National or Area Championship. The R.W.A. has a National Fixtures Coordinator, who will be very willing to give advice on the subject. You should start by checking the Fixture Pages of this web site, which contain all events know to the Coordinator. A new set of fixtures is produced every six months (in September and April) and, as events change or are added (or, of course, deleted) the pages are modified; they are not updated periodically but are changed as soon as an alteration is notified; the main Fixture Page and the individual Lists show when the last modification took place. The six-monthly lists are published in paper form when first assembled but the philosophy of fixture lists is that they are out of date as soon as they are printed! You should keep your eye on the web site.

If the date you have in mind for your event appears to be free, you should then check with the Fixtures Coordinator that there is no provisional fixture for that date. Someone else may have let the Coordinator know of a possible or probable event and may be confirming local arrangements before finally claiming the date. You can check by completing the Date Seeker Form and sending it electronically to the Coordinator, who will let you know of any such events of which she is aware. These considerations apart, it is "first come, first served", with the exception that a "superior" event – such as an International Meeting or a National Championship – may have to take your date because there is nowhere else to put it. You will be told as soon as possible if this happens and the Fixtures Coordinator will suggest alternative dates.

TRACK OR ROAD?

Although shorter races are frequently on the track, longer ones ­ – say above 10 kilometres ­ – are usually on the road, partly from tradition and partly because walking long distances on the track is boring. The standard international distances of 20 and 50 kilometres (at 50 and 125 laps respectively) are thought by many walkers to be positively mind-rotting. It should be noted that "road" includes any decent surface (tarmac, concrete, etc.) and is not necessarily the public highway.

Both track and road walking have advantages and disadvantages of their own.

TRACK WALKS
Advantages
Disadvantages
Not usually many casual bystanders to offer their inexpert and facetious opinions Expensive - perhaps £200 to hire
It is occasionally possible to share with a track and field meeting; there are often times, especially in a combined events meeting, when the track is spare  The difficulty of sharing, perhaps with runners warming up and with throws going on in the infield while the walkers occupy the track
Safe for young competitors who cannot easily wander off and get lost The young competitors' parents may well be present, shouting advice all the time
There is always another walker ­ perhaps a lap behind or a lap in front ­ to have a fight with The depressing effect of being lapped several times
Progress is rapid; ­ you soon knock off another lap Dropping out is very public ­ and so is being disqualified

ROAD WALKS
 Advantages
Disadvantages
Very cheap ­ and generally free Difficulty of finding a suitable venue ­ – park, industrial estate on a Sunday afternoon or public highway
Not many recorders needed to keep count of the laps, which are larger and therefore fewer More marshals needed to stop people from taking the wrong turning; ­ no-one ever got lost on a track!
Varied terrain; ­ ups and downs ­ to make it more interesting Possibility of not seeing any other competitors for some time
Scenery may ­ or may not ­ be more attractive than on a track  Traffic, children, dogs and hecklers
Experienced walkers prefer road walking as more "real"  The police don't like it and do their best to discourage it when it is on the public highway


When your date and other details are fixed, you can "register" the event by using the Fixture Submission Form.


II THE TECHNICALITIES

When you have decided on track or road, there are a number of things to be considered.

CATEGORY OF THE RACE

The definition of race walking requires the competitor to maintain contact with the ground and to have his knee straight from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertically upright position. However, it is felt that more inexperienced walkers might be encouraged to compete if the "knee" part of the definition is relaxed, so a special category of race has been introduced which requires compliance only with the "contact" part of the definition. This is known as Category B, while races held in strict compliance with both parts of the rule are Category A.

The following races must be Category A: National, Area and County Championships and international events. For all other events, the category is at the discretion of the promoter. There are certain other conditions attaching to various particular events such as relays, long-distance events (i.e., more than 50 kilometres), etc. These are detailed in the R.W.A. Handbook, which is available for a modest fee from The Editor.

If you propose to promote an event, therefore, you will have to decide what it is for, at whom it is aimed and whether you are, in fact, free to choose the Category.

PERMITS

Any open race walk in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands must have a Permit, to show that it is properly recognized by the walking authorities. The Permit carries with it considerable insurance cover. For England, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, the Permit is issued by the R.W.A. This Web Site contains a Permit Application Form that you may print off and send, with the appropriate fee, to the address given. Permits for events in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales must be obtained from the Head of the U.K. Athletics Race Walking Competition Policy and Support Team, who can be contacted by E-mail at pmarlow@btinternet.com .

Within the territory of the R.W.A., it is a condition of issue of the Permit that the results of all Category A events be forwarded to the three Area Honorary Handicappers; in the case of events included in the Younger Age Groups' Grand Prix, the results must also be forwarded to the the Grand Prix Co-ordinator. Stamped and addressed envelopes will be provided for this purpose.

The Permit system is used not only to ensure that promotions are up to scratch but also to try to maintain some order in the Fixture Lists. Please note, therefore, that if you try to organise your event on a date that causes a clash with an existing event you may be refused a Permit. There is no hard and fast rule about what constitutes a clash and, in general, commonsense applies. A small local event in Lancashire would not be regarded as clashing with a similar fixture in Kent, but a major open fixture in Surrey probably would be regarded as a clash with a similar one in London.

You will be very unlikely to receive a Permit for an event that clashes with a National or Area Championship, although even then commonsense would prevail; the General Secretary would probably not object to a local 3000 metre race on the same day as the National 100 Mile Championship, for example.

LEVIES

An important source of income for the Race Walking Association arises from levies on race entry fees. For each entry fee received in an Open Race, the organisers are required to remit to the R.W.A. the sum of 50p. Certain races are exempted from this requirement: National Championships: Area Championships: events for which the entry fee is not at the discretion of the promoting body: events for which no entry fee is charged: such other events as may from time to time be determined by the General Committee. For the avoidance of doubt, when a National or Area Championship is held in conjunction with an Open Event, that Open Event shall be subject to the levy.  The Permit issued for an event will be accompanied by a Levy Return Form which is to be completed and sent to the Honorary General Secretary of the R.W.A. in the stamped and addressed envelope provided.

It is entirely up to the promoters of an event how they provide for the levy; an obvious solution is to add 50p to the entry fee, but they are at liberty to provide the amount from their own funds or to use any other means available to them. If they were receiving sponsorship they could – subject, of course, to the sponsors' agreement – use that to provide the sum required.

[At quarterly intervals, the income from these levies is distributed by the R.W.A., with one-half being retained nationally and one-sixth being transferred to each of the three Areas.]

OFFICIALS

To put on a successful race walking event, you will need the appropriate officials. If you have experience of organising track or road running events you will already know what officials – starter, recorders, timekeepers, marshals, drinks and sponge stewards, etc. are required. [If you are not familiar with the requirements, please refer to the page on General Officials.] For a walking event, you will also need walking judges, whose job is to ensure that the competitors comply with the definition of race walking. As with other types of official, the judges will have a Chief Judge who will be in overall charge of the other judges. Since the judges issue "cards" recommending disqualification of any walkers who, in their opinion, are not complying, you will need "runners" to collect the cards and take them to the Chief Judge; this is not a technical job and any reliable person can be used. The cards, when collected, are displayed on a "disqualification warning posting board" – often know colloquially as a "penalty board" –  so you will need a suitable board and a Chief Judge's Recorder to look after the paperwork; if the event is of low level and there are not many competitors, the Chief Judge will often act as his own Recorder. Until you have some experience of organising race walking events, you would be well advised to consult the Judges and Officials Secretary for your area; to find that official's name and address, please enquire of the relevant Area Secretary who should also be able to help with other officials. (The R.W.A. maintains lists of Officials and Timekeepers who are experienced in officiating at race walking events.) When you are told who your judges are, you should contact the designated Chief to ask what particular facilities he will need.

PERMISSION

It is only sensible to obtain the permission of the people responsible for the land on which you propose to hold your event.

If you are using a track, you will either have to hire it or come to an agreement with whoever has already hired it and may be able to offer you some track time. Most track owners – ­ largely local authorities ­ – will not let you hire the track unless you have adequate insurance cover, such as is provided by the possession of a Permit.

If you are using a park, you should obtain the permission of the park authority, for which there may or may not be a charge. (Even if there is no charge for using the park roads, you will probably have to pay for the use of changing rooms, etc.) Most park authorities are happy to allow a park to be used but they may, of course, already have agreed to its use for something else.

For events on private land, such as military establishments, school grounds, etc., it is vital to obtain the permission of the Commandant, the Principal or the equivalent.

All owners of land are at liberty to impose conditions about the use of the land; such things may include numbers of competitors, vehicular access, starting and finishing locations, times, etc.

When you are proposing to hold an event on the public highway, you should inform the local authority and the police. The local authority will be able to tell you of any restrictions in force (such as diversions, road works, etc.) and it is highly desirable to obtain the cooperation of the police. Although the police cannot prevent the use of the public highway for walking events (provided that the laws and bye laws are observed) they are likely to take severe action against anyone whom they think has caused any obstruction or an accident. On the positive side, they may be able to provide assistance to the event organizers, although they may charge for this. Events that are so large that road closures are needed will not be of concern to the new race promoter!

RISK ASSESSMENT

For any event you promote on the public highway, you must carry out a risk assessment; details of the procedure will be found on the U.K.Athletics web site under Risk Assessment. The documents there are all in terms of road running, but the details are identical.

INSURANCE

It is, of course, vital to have third party insurance cover for any event you promote; this comes free with the Permit and the details of cover are to be found on the U.K.Athletics Insurance Pages.

 

III PUBLICITY

Walking races are like parties - there is no point in having one if nobody comes – so you will need to advertise it. The scope of the advertisement depends on what sort of event you are promoting, but you should always consider using the R.W.A. monthly magazine Race Walking Record. Unless the event is very big, it is probably not worth your while to advertise in the general athletics press, but publicity – which often comes free of charge under the guise of "news" – can often be obtained in local newspapers, particularly the free ones. Obviously, any advertisements will need to specify date, location, age groups, distances, category, whether or not there is team competition, scope of awards and entry fees. The entry fees will need to be pitched low enough to attract entries but not so low that you incur financial hardship! It is normal for non-championship events to have entry fees in the range £3-£6. (If you are promoting championships on behalf of a body, they will normally specify the entry fees). It is not necessary for the promoters of race walking events to charge the unattached levy customary in road running events.

Please do not forget to publicise the results – especially if there were good performances – in Race Walking Record and the local press. Even if the race was not advertised in the general athletics press, such as Athletics Weekly, the results should be sent to them as soon as possible after the event. If you wish to keep your sponsors happy, you should always ensure that their name is publicised in the results as much as in the pre-event material. It will also be useful if you send your results to Contact@RaceWalkUK.com, which will ensure their appearance on the excellent web site http://www.RaceWalkUK.com, where many useful statistics are to be found.

Remember that, when your event is organised and you have finally submitted it to the Fixtures Co-ordinator, it will automatically will automatically appear on the R.W.A. web site Fixture Page for the appropriate month in the following form:

DATE
CAT
DIST   
AGES 
EVENT                                   
VENUE           
TIME
AREA
Feb 2
A
var
all
London Open Walks
Victoria Park
1:00 p.m.
S

If you wish to provide further information about entry conditions, etc., you may use the space provided on the Fixtue Submission Form to give contact numbers, entry fees, etc., and these will be linked on the web site to your fixure. You may also wish to put the entry details – or an actual entry form – on the excellent RaceWalkUK site mentioned above.

If you need to change any of the details – such as starting time or venue – you should notify the Co-ordinator, so that the published lists can be modified, or you may have intending competitors turning up late or in the wrong place. You cannot change the date without first clearing the new date with the Co-ordinator. Changing small details will not affect the Permit, but changing the date will invalidate it; if the alteration of date does not cause a serious clash, a replacement will be issued free of charge.

IV IN CONCLUSION

The process of promoting and organising a race walking event may seem dauntingly complex to the newcomer to the enterprise but, in fact, it is merely a matter of formalising what would occur to anyone sitting down and inventing the system from scratch. The new promoter has the advantage that walking events of one sort or another have been promoted over the space of a century and a half and we might reckon that all possible errors have been committed and all possible mishaps and fiascos have occurred during that time; we now reckon that we know how to do it.

There may be points of detail that the intending promoter would like to discuss and it is always possible to contact the General Secretary with any problems that may arise. Recent experience in this country ranges from putting on local races with a dozen competitors to setting up the entire organisation for the European Cup of Race Walking, so any problems should find a ready solution.

If you decide to go ahead with an event, you can be sure of support from the Association, its Officers and – most importantly from your point of view – the walkers.

Welcome to the ranks of Event Promoters and GOOD LUCK with your enterprise.