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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Disappointing Shift in Focus

On the Banks of the Chattahoochee River after our run today.
No the shift in focus is not mine.  I remain focused on running because of health, fitness, and fun.  I was disappointed to receive my monthly Newsletter from Atlanta Track Club.  Atlanta Track Club is the second largest track club in the US, right behind the New York City Road Runners.  Atlanta is a town that loves to run and as you can see from the pics I post, it has tons of great places to run all over the metropolitan area.  The ATC has always had as a focus to increase health and fitness in Atlanta through running and walking.  One of the ways they did this was through a series of 13 races throughout the year called the Grand Prix Series.  Most were free races and came with your annual membership.  This is the series that hubby and I will get our Bunny Awards for this year and I will place 3rd in my AG in December at the annual awards breakfast. 

The great things about the Grand Prix series were it was affordable, only a few of the races were additional paid entry fees with a shirt.  You always had a race coming up to keep you motivated.  They took place all over metro Atlanta (a 16 county region) and they had the AG awards and the Bunny Awards.  Most of the races were low key and they really were accessible to all level of runners, giving everyone that feeling of crossing the finish line.  In the newsletter they announced that the Grand Prix series has been discontinued.  They will focus instead on a 7 race competitive series and they will award the top male and female, top masters male and female, and top grand master male and female.  To be considered in the series you have to at least win in one of these positions in one of the races.  They also eliminated most of the free races so now you pay your membership fee and the race entry fee.

I can see needing to recoup costs. I am sure those of us in the grand prix series would pay a smaller entry fee of $10 or $15 for some of the other races.  I also see this as an overall change in focus.  My husband and I are probably front mid pack runners.  We are dedicated members and really ambassadors for ATC.  I got 10 people in my office to join this year.  Now it appears ATC only wants the competitive runners.  They have cut the course open times for their races.  Not a big deal to us, we are well below them, but a big deal to those just getting out there trying to get in shape.  It does not seem these changes are consistent with encouraging fitness in Atlanta through walking and running.  Seems more like we want to be an elitist track club and we have no  intention or  time to waste on amateur runners just out enjoying the sport of running.

Hubby and I are of the glass half full sort.  We don't know that we will rejoin ATC next year.  They don't seem to want us there.  On the Brightside. Atlanta is a city that runs.  There are races every weekend and many cool new courses that we missed being dedicated to the ATC season.  So we will get to experience new courses and new races.  I am sad we did not know earlier in the season.  Some of my favorite races were cut and I would have savored those races a little more if I knew I was never going to run over the meadows with the sun rising over the north Georgia Mountain during the Cartersville 10K again.  Oh well there will be new opportunities.  I just hope ATC doesn't regret this change in direction, and I hope those who were going to start out running or walking  know there are plenty of races happy to have everyone who wants to participate, competitive or not!

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