This is the final in a series of blogs about the history of London City Runners, and was written by Kerry Jones, who leads LCR alongside Tim. Read on to find out what the future of the club looks like…
It’s been almost two years since the clubhouse opened, and until March this year, it was gaining momentum with every passing month. The venue has become a great way for our club to interact with other running communities, sports brands, and local businesses and community groups. It was also becoming more and more popular on Saturdays with the general public. Meanwhile, the club itself was getting increasingly recognised, all our sessions were at full capacity and we had some great running events planned. We were also about to announce our plans to celebrate the club’s 10th birthday.
And then coronavirus hit our shores….
No business could have predicted being shut down for a pandemic for a few months. These are possibly the toughest conditions any business could face but thankfully our business and community have proved very resilient.
Firstly, our landlords generously gave us a 3 month rent holiday, and we were able to eliminate or reduce many other outgoings. This means the clubhouse has effectively been in hibernation and can reopen when we’re ready.
Secondly, the club has some incredible members who’ve taken the lead to take the club activities online – anything from virtual running sessions, pub quizzes and socials, to a 24 hour relay. Our members also very kindly chipped in over £10,000 that will see the club through some tough months ahead while business is slower than normal.
We expect to be able to reopen activities soon as the lockdown gradually lifts. The venue needs to be made COVID safe and the running sessions will need to be carefully limited to keep within government allowances. However, this is also a great opportunity to launch afresh with some new developments at the club.
What’s next for London City Runners?
There are some huge developments in the pipeline!
For starters, we will shortly be offering our members the option to affiliate with England Athletics under the club name. This is in response to requests from a number of members who’d like to officially represent the club in races and it has a number of other benefits.
We’ve been working increasingly with England Athletics via our clubhouse and so we collaborated with them to figure out how this will work for our club. It’s important for us to point out that this will not change the club’s culture and is not to create a separate club. It will ALWAYS be free to join London City Runners, and all sessions will be available to all members whether they choose to affiliate or not. We are sure the majority of members will choose not to affiliate, it’s just a benefit to those who do want it and means the club can benefit as a whole from some England Athletics resources. A lot more details on this will be announced in the coming weeks.
Secondly, before we were shut down we were about to announce plans for a 10km race through the streets of Bermondsey. This was an amalgamation of a lot of contacts we’d made over the last 2 years and our presence on the route. It was also going to coincide with local celebrations of the Mayflower’s 400th year. We are still planning to do this race and so it’ll be moved to 2021.
We also have some events to hold at the track that involve some sports brands that should invigorate everyone’s training.
Next, we’ll shortly have a new website. It will look a lot slicker and mean you can book tickets to our events directly on our website.
Finally, the clubhouse still has a lot of ways it can be used and we haven’t really seen its full potential yet. We are now looking at ways to extend the opening hours, which will include doing more programmes to get inactive people into running. We’ll explore different ways to rent the clubhouse out and find more brands to do events with. In the long-term, who knows… we may even look at opening a second site to complement what we already have. There are always lots of people who want to join our club so we feel ready to confidently expand. Watch this space!
On a final note, we’d like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to our members for their inimitable support. We’re so looking forward to seeing you all and embracing a variety of new opportunities. It’s been an incredible decade for this community – here’s to the next one.