In Australia we are blessed with many things including fabulous weather all year round!
Each and every year people migrate from all around the world to Australia for (amongst other things) the climate.
However could this brilliant weather be having a detrimental effect on our local running scene?
**for the purposes of this article I am addressing specifically ultra-running**
Running like many other endurance sports is usually conducted on a seasonal basis, meaning the majority of racing takes place over the short few months centred around the best weather. By having this approach (as seen in Europe/UK/USA/Canada) it allows runners and races to compete/take place in the most ideal conditions for the year. It also creates a distinct ON and OFF season which allows runners to periodize their training easily around the peak season of competition.
However unlike most of the world the Australian (Ultra) running scene does not follow this model. Here in Australia we have major races 12months of the year, for example take a look below:
**Number of races is taken from Australian Ultra Running Association website, it is used as a guide and does not cover EVERY ultra in Australia**
Month Number of Races Major Race
January 7 Bogong to Hotham
February 4 Cradle Mountain
March 8 Six Foot Track
April 6 Buffalo Stampede
May 4 The North Face 100
June 3 Australian 100km Road Championships
July 3 Big Red Run/ Yo Yangs
August 2 Tan Ultra
September 5 Australian Trail Championships 100km
October 4 Great Ocean Walk 100km
November 3 Alpine Challenge 100s
December 3 Coast to Kosciusko
**Note even the months that have the least races still contain major competition events**
How has this come about? Well it could be due to the fact that Australia lacks a true “harsh” winter allowing for year round racing. Or it could be due to the very fast growth in the sport coupled with race directors who are perhaps looking maximise their returns by positioning races tactically on the calendar to prevent conflict with other major events.
Regardless of how it came about the real question remains: Is having the ability to race year round having a negative effect on our athletes and running scene?
Some points to consider:
– Does having races available year round cause (tempt) runners to race too much?
– Is the abundance of races diluting the competition level in Australia?
– Does having major races year round place pressure on “Top” runners to constantly perform year round?
– Does not having a distinct OFF season limit athletes to just the sport of running? And is this a bad thing?
– Are race directors choosing their race dates based off “best revenue” returns or “best conditions” for the participants?
For me on one hand I love racing, I race a lot and enjoy the fact that I don’t have to wait months for a good race to roll around in this country. However on the other hand I know racing too much can be detrimental both physically and mentally yet the expectation nationally is such that peak performance is expected at every race.
So what do you think: Is having the ability to race year round having a negative effect on our athletes and running scene?