Welcome to this month's CEO message, which finds the summer season back up and running. With two Treloar Shield rounds already in the books, including large fields last weekend at SOPAC for this time of the year, it promises to be an exciting summer ahead, leading up to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.
Before discussing what lies ahead, I would like to spend a brief moment reviewing the Winter season. Going into the season, ANSW had introduced two major shifts in strategy:
1. The events were re-branded, with the idea being to make them less intimidating to people who may have been considering trying a race for the first time; and
2. Fields were opened up so that non-members could also participate. Again, the intention was to entice more newbies to try out our events, so that they could come to understand the enjoyment of out of stadia running that our members have known about for years.
After all the factors are taken into account, participation numbers this year were well ahead of 2016. We saw strong growth in both the St George Classic (Novice) and the XXC Relays at Miranda. Not co-incidentally, these are the two meets where the most effort was put in to try and create a festival atmosphere. Here is a comparison of the comparable winter series events for the past two years (noting that the OneSport event in 2016 was in Nowra while this year it was in Rydalmere).
At the same time, it is worth noting that in 2016 ANSW had 408 winter members, while this year that number rose to 750.
These results go some way towards demonstrating that we can make our events attractive to a wider audience without cannibalising Club membership, and planning for 2018 has already commenced with a view to building on this foundation. Obviously the season hasn't been perfect (and I will own a lot of responsibility for trying to hold the XXC Festival event at the Equestrian Centre at a time which didn't fit the rest of the calendar) however the Winter Satisfaction Survey also confirms that we are heading in the right direction. Within that survey, when people were asked whether 2017 was an improvement on 2016, more than four times as many people responded ‘yes’ as responded ‘no’.
Thank you to everyone - athletes, officials, coaches, volunteers and staff - for making this Winter Season a success.
Moving on to the new summer season, I will quickly highlight a couple on things to look out for. Firstly, the coming weeks will see ANSW introducing a new web based app which we hope over time will add a lot of value to how our community interacts with our competitions. Firstly, and most noticeably, on race day athletes will be able to check in online. So as long as you can access your smart phone you won't need to be at the check in desk an hour before your event. Secondly, we are working to make live results available on the app, including field events. To the best of our knowledge, no one in Australia has yet cracked the code for live field event results, so this promises to be a great addition. While a lot of work has already been done on this app, I would ask for your patience as we undertake a few rounds of testing in the coming weeks. Chances are there are a few gremlins we are yet to uncover, so I would ask for your patience while we iron them out. If you are interested in being involved in the live results testing, even if it's only for an hour after your event on Saturday, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Secondly, in case it has so far escaped your attention, next weekend sees the Relay Championships being held at SOPAC. This is my favourite event of the summer, an opportunity for Club members to get out and see what can be achieved as a team and to shift the focus a little from the usual individual pressures. Speak with your Club about what's involved in forming teams: will you be the long distance runner shaping up as the fourth member of the shot put relay? You might surprise yourself. All of the information for Relays can be found here.
I will leave you with two quick acknowledgements, one in celebration and one in remembrance:
A sincere congratulation to all the young athletes who achieved their goals at the recent 2XU All Schools Championships. Whether that be qualification for Nationals in Adelaide or a season's best, this year's event was the biggest ever and saw some amazing athletics across the week.
Finally, ANSW mourned the passing of beloved official Don Allen last week. Over almost 50 years, Don had educated us all on not only the rules but the spirit of athletics and he had always done so with a smile on his face. His funeral will be held on Friday 27 October at St Augustine’s Catholic Church – Gladstone Park, 246 Darling St Balmain.
See you at the track