Athletics is an extremely popular form of exercise in the UK, with nearly seven million people undertaking some form of athletic sport at least twice a month in England alone. But as local sporting organisations and community centres continue to see their funding cut as a result of changes to government budgets, many are finding it harder than ever to get into their ideal sport.
Running is a staple form of athletics, and one of the more popular choices for amateur athletes or people simply trying to stay fit. In the absence of community support, you may be interested in starting your own running club. But how would you go about such a thing?
Legality and Logistics
Firstly, you will need to grapple with the legal and logistical aspects of starting up a sports club in your area. While informal running groups can be created with little-to-no planning besides the corralling of interested parties, instituting a proper athletics club requires a little more structure and rigour.
If you are starting a club under the England Athletics umbrella, you will have to consider the legal form that your club will take in order to comply with employment and tax law – as well as to identify liability, and properly manage potential funding avenues. The vast majority of localised and amateur running clubs take the form of an unincorporated association, being the simplest and most flexible form of club entity.
Logistically speaking, there are a number of considerations. Will your club have a permanent base, or will you simply set meeting points in situ? Will you provide training equipment and facilities to members, or will you require they source their own? Running clubs will have less to worry about than other athletics organisations but should nonetheless make these considerations (in line with governing body regulations and expectations).
Marketing and PR
With the relatively boring administrative angle of your running club covered, you can start to make in-roads to properly publicising its launch. There are numerous ways in which you can approach marketing your new running club, many of which should be taken in parallel to maximise your reach and give you the best hopes for a well-attended first session.
Digital marketing might feel like overkill for a local running organisation but establishing a solid presence on social media platforms can be crucial to winning over younger people. You might also be able to receive local press coverage, through an article or interview on your regional newspaper’s website. Alongside this, a traditional leafleting campaign can more directly target people in your area.
While getting started could be as simple as commencing running sessions, you could improve interest and uptake in memberships through the running of trial sessions. Allowing locals and younger people to try out with your club can give people a chance to see if your club is for them without making a commitment too hastily – enabling you to more organically build a warm and receptive membership for your club.