When you experience something in isolation you weigh your opinion based on something as simple as “did I love it? did I hate it?” But when you experience it again you now have a direct comparison, you can finally say this was better than that, or, in a weird parallel universe, that that is better than this.
Around this time last year, on a Friday, not a Thursday, straight after the SVN Alice in Wonderland Caucus race I caught the train back to London as I was invited to the Running Awards with Strava. I had just moved my blog from Blogspot to WordPress and RunnersKnees.com had been listed but didn’t make the shortlist. Still, as one of the original bloggers on the long list I got an invite and so, after 10 miles on the Kent Coast dressed as the White Rabbit, I found myself changing into my running kit later that evening at the swanky Intercontinental Hotel with fellow blogger Roger T before a swift 5K with Susie Chan, Shauny Shaun and a Strava Rep.
Strava was the banner sponsor. We ran the 5 with them, got a Strava themed bag of swag, including a heart rate monitor, then went back to the hotel and changed for the awards. The blogger forum involved a Strava Q&A with Martin Yelling and Marathon Talk co-host Tom. We had an open bar, and then, when the talk finished, we ate bowls of food (pasta, steak) as we mingled upstairs at Indigo before the award ceremony.
There was a large crowd upstairs and down, a rowdy bunch cheering on as Mike Bushell and Nell McAndrew announced the winners and booing if their favourites didn’t win (including the Fitness Rewards crowd from north of the border, Mohican runner Richard, Pip, Jen, Jeff, Susie and Shaun, Helen, and Dr Juliet). And then we were (I want to say entertained) by a beatbox DJ and the kind of inebriate dancing you ordinarily only see around midnight at family weddings, and in GIF form.
Oh, and as for the Awards, we were second in the best Online Community category.
All in all I had a pretty good time. Strava were great hosts, the Q&A made it, even though I broke a glass of champagne. We had fun and games, ate, drank and had a great time.
Fast forward to this year and a different format. Free tickets again, yay! I managed to get the Katzenjammer crew of UKRUNCHAT_LONDON in , Baz (who didn’t make it), JK (who couldn’t make it), Kaya, Jen, Matt Bodkin, Clare, Pip and Big Carl. Some of the stars of the previous year would be there too. Jenna from Fitness Rewards, who is looking great BTW, Helen, Roger, Paul Addicott and his mrs, Liam, Susie was handing out one of the blocks that replaced the mannequins of last year whilst Shaun mingled.
There was no food though, and only the first drink was free apparently (although we found this out to be false as wine was complimentary) and so we ate before we headed up to the same bar area as last year. And this is where the comparison starts.
This year there was about a third of the people of last year, there was no Strava Q&A , no talk with Yelling and co. There was no food. No open bar. The bar on the balcony wasn’t even open. There was a demo, apparently, of the overly expensive Dry Robes. I missed the salesmen failing to sway Jen and the girls as I was talking to Helen, but Matt and I made the most of the demo wares to comic effect.
We did drink and we did mingle. Anything you really do in life is enriched by the people you do it with (or to, according to Ron Jeremie), and so the guys made the evening, whilst the organisation, other than a pretty hefty goody bag, was lacking.
Back to my opening point about having a comparison; comparing the Running Awards with Strava last year with this year’s effort shows only one thing, that the Running Awards are going down the pan. Downstairs with the nominees hobnobbing with the odd running celeb (we had Dame Kelly this year, and a personal hero of mine Bruce Fordyce) am sure it was just as great.
The blogger forum though, has gone to the dogs. And worse still, despite being nominated again, and being the largest and most inclusive and inspirational online running community, UKRUNCHAT didn’t even place in the top 3. It is sad. Although I agree with trying to get mothers to run to get back into shape post babies, that community seems to be quite exclusive. UKRUNCHAT is ok with you being male, for example, or female regardless of whether you have a child or not. #justsaying
And, best blogger? I was very very happy to say that if anyone was going to win this award, that I wanted it to be Ben Smith of 401 Challenge fame. Well done, sir, well deserved. (Although I did vote for Roger T)
So all in all I am little down by it. All the things I liked about last year were dropped this year. And it seemed like it was basically cheaper to hold the blogger forum and give everyone a free glass of prosecco than hire an applause machine. I hope, for the sake of the awards themselves, that the rot stops, as it could end up being a ghost town. I certainly don’t want to go next year, unless, of course, I make the short list.
A final word though, is that some of the guys loved it. And fair play to them. Carl and Matt enjoyed their first boozy jaunt into the Running Awards, but like my first point, when you have nothing to compare an experience to, it becomes a choice “did I love it? did I hate it?”. And this year am sure they loved it. Me? Not so much.