Ranelagh Harriers Running Club

Annual General Meeting via Zoom.

Wednesday 7th July 2021

MINUTES

There being a quorum, Ted Mockett, President, called the meeting to order at 19:15.

1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies were received from the following members:

Andy Bickerstaff, Peter Haarer, Alan Hedger, James Ritchie, Tim Woods.

2. MINUTES OF THE 2020 AGM AND MATTERS ARISING

Approval of the 2020 AGM Minutes, circulated prior to the meeting was proposed by Richard Kimber and seconded by Suzy Whatmough.

 

3. HONORARY SECRETARY’S REVIEW OF THE 2020/21 SEASON

In concluding last year’s review, written towards the end of Lockdown 1.0, I expressed the hope that, in this year’s review, I would be able to describe another year of great activity. Fast forward 12 months, with Delta-variant- boosted contagion numbers surging once more, I can do little more than repeat the same pious hope. That is not to say that there was little activity during the 2020/21 season. Far from it. It was just that Ranelagh and the sport as a whole was forced to adapt rapidly to circumstances that were unique in the lifetime of all but our very oldest members.

Let us be clear about one thing. The impact of the Covid pandemic upon Ranelagh Harriers has been insignificant, so far, in comparison with that of the two world wars. In WW1, 91 members served in the armed services and no fewer than 10 were killed in northern France and elsewhere. Members not on active service managed to keep some form of club activity going, although racing opportunities were severely curtailed. Intriguingly, the lethal Spanish Flu pandemic that followed fast on the heels of the conflict scarcely, if at all, gets a mention in the Club annals.

Thankfully, the number of members killed in action during WW2 was restricted to just 3, but if anything, club activities were more seriously impacted than in WW1 and due to the extended dislocation caused by six years of conflict from 1939 to 1945, the Club’s survival in the immediate post-war period had been by no means assured. Survive, however, it did, due to the efforts of a few stalwarts, to the benefit of all of us.

Most importantly, at the time of writing, I have not been made aware of any members that have died from Covid. Nevertheless, we have had to put up with the complete curtailment of the Club’s racing programme, the closure of the clubhouse due to social distancing concerns and, for large parts of 2020/21 the cessation of organised training and the normal interaction of members in their natural habitat of the Roebuck, Rose of York and other watering-holes in the greater Richmond area. However, we have not, by any stretch of the imagination, faced an existential threat.

So how did Ranelagh Harriers respond to Covid? Answer: Ranelagh went virtual. Virtual Committee Meetings and a virtual AGM, virtual races and challenges, virtual training sessions, virtual /social gatherings and even a virtual club photo.

The enews issued on 17 March 2020, immediately prior to the start of national Lockdown 1.0 was dominated by a lengthy announcement from the Hon. Sec., cancelling everything on the immediate racing calendar, including the Ranelagh Half Marathon in May and the Ranelagh 10km in June along with organised training as from 24 March and track training at Osterley from 26 March. Further announcements restricting training to individual runs within the permitted daily UK Gov’s guidelines "individual exercise" dispensation soon followed. To their credit UK Athletics and EA reacted quickly to these dramatic developments, issuing guidance on what was allowed and what not and devising a format for virtual races that became a template for most future virtual events.

In summary, the virtual format involves athletes running alone over the race distance, measured and timed by their own GPS capable device, and uploading their individual result to the race organiser who then produces the final results based on all individual submissions received. Usually, runners were not required to run over a specific course, although limits on favourable gradients and distance between start and finish locations could be applied to ensure a fairer contest.

First up was the virtual National Road Relays in which the Ranelagh Ladies had a large entry and managed 22nd position in the 12 stage contest run over self-timed, individual socially distanced 5km legs, despite half the team not making it into the official results. Encouraged by the obvious interest of members in virtual races, a small technologically minded group led by Suzy Whatmough and James Ritchie, following the principal of "build it and they will come" designed a "Virtual Summer Race Series" - a 5 race grand prix starting with a virtual 5km in early June, followed by a virtual Baker 3 miles at the end of the month, a virtual 10km in early July, then a virtual Coad 5 miles and rounded off with a virtual mile in early August. It was only fitting that Gary Armstrong who should really be regarded as a virtual member as he only joined the club shortly before Lockdown was the overall and V40 champion and Suzy herself was the ladies’ champion. In total, 105 members took part virtually in at least one of these events. Statistical support to the organisers was provided by Ken Powley.

From July onwards, there was a gradual relaxation of UK Gov and EA guidelines to the extent that the club Committee began planning for the resumption of organised Tuesday training on 8th September. A few socially distanced physical races began to appear, notably in Kew Gardens in which a number of members took part. There was, for a time, brave talk of a winter cross country programme as the Covid case stats improved substantially in August and September. As we all now know, these hopes were swamped by the second wave in late October and subsequent Lockdown 2.0 in November and extended again after Christmas. Organised training went back into the deep freeze once more. One significant improvement in the UK Gov guidelines for the second lockdown was that individual runners could train with a buddy rather than in splendid isolation, a concession that benefited our lady runners in particular.

Meanwhile back on the virtual race front, by the time we got to the Thomas Cup and Opening Run, the organising team was on a roll, assisted by their ever-helpful digital elves, and a socially distanced virtual race was held between 4th and 6th September in which 61 members took part, most running over the official course. In the handicap event, Rodney Oliver had 3 minutes to spare over his nearest rival and serial virtual winner Gary Armstrong ran the fastest time, 21:49, with Adrienne Baddeley the fastest lady in 26:46.

Lloyd Camp won the virtual Page Cup handicap leading home a virtual field of 38 handicap contestants running the official course between 25th and 27th September. Gary Armstrong was again fastest man but this time the improving Sarah Palmer was fastest lady.

25 Ranelagh members seem to have taken part in the virtual London Marathon on or around Sunday 4th October, running at various locations. James Riley led home 7 others in 2:41:15, cheered on by many more in Bushy Park, and another contingent competed in the physical Dorney Lake Marathon, where Gareth Williams came out on top in 2:44:15. Clare Fowler, running in Bushy, led home the ladies smashing her PB with 3:18:30 in the process. Mike Peace, supported by Eirin McDaid, maintained his London Marathon ever-present record with a virtual effort in Devon.

In November, the Hon Sec spotted an opportunity to score a unique victory over Thames Hare and Hounds in a virtual mob match. Thames were up for the contest, and a format comprising a self-timed run over any parkrun course between 28th November and 6th December was agreed. 99 competitors took part, 67 from Ranelagh and 32 from Thames. Thames dominated the front of the field but were then swept away by a virtual blue tsunami with the result that Ranelagh won, scoring 747 to 1116. The standout performance, however, belonged to Thames’ 16 year-old Ellen Weir who ran 18:23 for 10th overall on the Wimbledon parkrun course, faster than Ranelagh’s men’s captain...

Virtual challenges were organised in November and again over the Christmas period, which seemed to involve running the Richmond Park or indeed any other parkrun courses as many times as possible, with on occasion bonus points awarded for fancy dress, Strava crowns and anything else the organisers could dream up.

Ranelagh entered the virtual National Road Relay Championship organised by England Athletics. The format was unlimited entries from registered clubs with four male and four female athletes per club to score, running self-timed 5 mile legs with a qualifying round in early January 2021 and the final in February. Ranelagh finished 28th out of 128 teams in the qualifying round and 33rd out of the 50 clubs who made it through to the final. Nick Impey and Suzy Whatmough were our fastest male and female runners on both occasions.

The 2020/21 season ending rather as it had begun with the Hon Sec issuing detailed instructions on Covid secure environments etc, though thankfully this time as a partial relaxation of UKGov Covid guidelines permitted organised Tuesday evening training to resume on 29 March after a 5 month break and (finally!) track sessions at Osterley on 15th April after a gap of more than 12 months.

One feature of the year has been the participation in and coverage of ultra-distance events, either solo or organised. Perhaps the nature of the event lends itself to a world in lockdown or perhaps it is sheer frustration and boredom that has driven Ranelagh members to seek out ever more extreme challenges.

Having followed training and virtual race performances during the 2020/21 season, the impression I have drawn is that Ranelagh members have trained more and harder and raced at least as fast virtually as in recent years. As with participation in Ultra events, the greater commitment demonstrated may have resulted from a reaction against Government sponsored inactivity.

From the start of the first lockdown, the administration of the club moved on line. All committee meetings in 2020/21 have been held via Zoom as was the AGM on Tuesday 7 July 2021. There were 2 notable personnel changes voted through at the AGM. Firstly, Ted Mockett took over the role of President from Becky Curtis Hall and second, Suzy Whatmough replaced Becky Northmore as ladies’ captain.

Club organisation and finances have not been noticeably adversely impacted by the Pandemic although the Hon Treasurer reports that subscription income dropped by 30% from 15,634 in 2019/20 to 10,904 in 2020/21. It should be noted that the Committee agreed to waive the subscription for any members experiencing financial difficulties due to the Pandemic. Membership numbers held up well despite the necessarily more limited offerings to members and early indications are that membership numbers will recover in 2021/22. Communication among and towards the membership has been greatly facilitated by social media and the internet and indeed a number of new members joined during lockdowns.

Reinforcing the club’s desire to provide a welcoming environment, the Committee commissioned a survey of the membership on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion issues over the winter. The findings provoked a robust debate and led to the drawing up of a number of action points to be addressed in the year ahead. In addition, work is progressing on a new Club website which it is hoped will further facilitate communication to club members and also to the wider running community.

In concluding my second annual review that will be addressed towards a virtual rather than a physical AGM, I can at least look forward to the first physical race that the Club has organised in well over a year. The Coad 5 mile Handicap is scheduled to be held just 6 days after the AGM. Let us all hope that this race will be the precursor to the full resumption of Ranelagh’s club activities.

Acceptance of the Hon Secretary’s Report was proposed by Sonia Rowland and seconded by Hadi Khatamizadeh.

 

4. HONORARY TREASUERER’S REPORT FOR FINANCIAL YEAR 2020/21

Income and Expenditure Account

The year was dominated by the effects of Covid, which significantly reduced both income and expenditure. I set out below the main areas where income and expenditure continued to occur despite the lack of significant activities.

Subscription income dropped from 15,634 to 10,904, a fall of approximately 30%. The club is fortunate that so many members continued to pay their subscriptions despite the effects of Covid.

Interest income dropped to less than half of the 2019/20 total, reflecting lower interest rates. This effect will be even more pronounced in 2020/21.

We continued to pay England Athletics affiliation fees, incurring costs at about 65% of the 2019/20 level.

We continued to incur fixed costs in areas such as insurance, utilities and depreciation.

 

 

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet looks relatively strong. As at year end date the club had just over 132,000 in the bank.

We still have a significant prepayments balance of 4,878. This relates mainly to insurance and prepaid Half Marathon and 10k expenditure.

Future Prospects

Early indications are that subscription income in April and May 2021 is significantly higher than in the same period for 2020. This is likely to reflect an expectation of resumption of more normal levels of club activities.

The cancellation of the 2021 Half Marathon will result in there being no revenue from that source although the 10k is expected to go ahead in November 2021.

With substantial reserves I think the club is financially well placed to resume activities if circumstances continue to permit.

Thanks

The club remains indebted to the many members who give their time free of charge throughout the year. Without the efforts of these members the club would not be financially viable. In particular I would like to thank John Herriott and Deepa Sharma for serving as Assistant Treasurers and Anna Reichwald for serving as Honorary Auditor.

Acceptance of the Hon Treasurer’s report was proposed by Narissa Vox and seconded by Richard Kimber.

 

5. Officers and Club Roles for the 2021/22 Season

Elected Roles

Role 2020/2021 Season Offering to Serve for 2021/22 Season
President Ted Mockett Yes
Secretary Gordon Whitson Yes
Treasurer Chris Read Yes
Assistant Treasurer Deepa Sharma, John Herriott Louise Wapshott replaces Deepa
Men’s Captain Richard Kimber Yes
Women’s Captain Suzy Whatmough Yes
Fixture Secretary Rick Jenner ?
Chief Race Official Andy Bickerstaff Yes
Premises Managers Clive Naish Yes
Catering Manager Carol Barnshaw Yes
Social Secretaries Vacant Rebecca Bissell Hadi Khatamizadeh
Press Officer Steve Rowland Yes
Kit Steward Marianne Malam Yes
Membership Secretary Chris Owens Yes
Auditor Anna Reichwald Yes

Committee Appointed Roles

Role 2020/21 Season 2021/22 Season
Data Protection Officer Hon Secretary ex officio Yes    
Handicapper Simon Martin

Yes

Welfare Officers Rob Curtis, Clare Fowler

Yes

Non-Elected Roles

Role 2020/21 Season 2021/22 Season
Men’s Vice Captain Dave Lawley, James Riley Yes
Men’s Team Manager Jonathan Smith Yes
Women’s Vice Captain Carol Aikin, Marianne Malam, Becky Northmore Carol Aikin, Marianne Malam
Women’s Team Manager Vacant No
Junior Team Manager Vacant ?
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Officer Vacant Narissa Vox
Half Marathon Race Director Sandra Forrest Simon Martin possibly. TBC
10K Race Director Edmund Perry Yes
Trophy Steward James Ritchie Yes
Statistician Ken Powley Yes
Gazette Editor Julian Smith Yes
E-News Editor Steve Rowland Yes
Schools Race Co-ordinator Julian Smith Yes
Assistant Chief Race Official Paul Rider Yes
Club Archivist Steve Rowland Yes
Road G.P. Co-ordinator Steve Rowland, Ken Powley Yes
Community Liaison Andy Hayward ?
Club Coaches/Leaders ACTIVE: Marcus Atkins, Deborah Blakemore, Colin Brett, Tamsin Burland, Lloyd Camp, Daniel Chiechi, Emily Coulson, Cindy Croucher, Tor Heron-Brett, John Herriot, Andrew Kew, Phil Killingley, Wiebke Kortum, Trevor Maguire, Simon Martin, Ross Macdonald, Paul Murphy, Martin Nance, Rebecca Northmore, Anna Reichwald, Rachel Revett, Philip Roberts, Maia Rushby, Amrut Sharma, Katie Walton, Gordon Whitson. INACTIVE: Trevor Maguire, Chris Read  
     

On the President calling for a vote, attendees approved the list of elected officers for 2021/22 by general acclaim.

 

Subsequent to the AGM, Gerard O’Callaghan indicated that he was prepared to take on the role of Fixtures Secretary and Cecily Day was appointed as a Women’s Team Vice Captain.

 

6. Any Other Business

The President announced that he had decided that the joint recipients of the President’s Prize for 2020/21 would be Suzy Whatmough and James Ritchie for their unstinting enthusiasm and inventiveness in organising a series of virtual races and challenges throughout the year to keep members motivated during the pandemic.

 

7. There being no other business the President declared the meeting closed at 19:45.