The Great Run Company

The city is the venue

Tyne Bridge Simplyhealth Great North Run

Tyne Bridge Simplyhealth Great North Run

Charlie Mussett, senior operations manager at The Great Run Company, has been at full throttle with the finishing touches of Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry, the race that pits the best of Team GB and NI against Europe and the US.

The race will kick off in Holyrood Park on Saturday 13 January 2018 and heralds a series of events The Great Company has in store for 2018, including the second outing of Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run next summer.

Based in Newcastle, Mussett has been working in the outdoor events industry since 1992 and for The Great Run Company since 1997.

The Great Run Company is a specialist in the development, design, organisation and rights management of mass participation and televised sporting events.

Its portfolio boasts over 32 individual events, all delivered annually through Great Run and Great Swim. The company has reported that, typically, these events see over 250,000 participants each year throughout the UK.

The 2017 season ended with the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth on 22 October. It was the 28 staging of the event with over 20,000 runners taking part in a 10-mile road race.

Mussett explains: “Our focus right now is on debriefing the Autumn events we held across Tyneside, Bristol, Ipswich, Glasgow, Birmingham and Portsmouth in September and October and planning for 2018.”

The Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry in January will see international elite teams from GB, Europe and the US compete on the grass and hills and over 3,000 runners take part in the Simplyhealth Great Winter Run on the road.

“As a late Christmas present, a nice light dusting of snow for TV would be just fine, but not enough to affect logistics!” he enthuses.

Short build time

Commenting on the difference between a festival and a mass participation event, Mussett says: “Mass participation events typically use public space, with the ‘venue’ being city streets and public spaces meaning a lot of liaison with local authorities, landowners and highways departments and a significant amount of business and resident communication.”

Mussett points out that these events often have a very short build time. “This could see us closing roads at 4 am for an event which will open to the public at 9 am, with the same streets handed back as soon as is practically possible to get a city moving again.”

The experience is what makes mass participation events unique. “Our customers sign up to an experience, and for many that experience will form part of a short or long term goal that might be to get fit, take on a challenge, a change of lifestyle or to raise funds for charity,” Mussett explains. “We talk to and work with our participants pre and post event to help them get the most out of that experience.”

Simplyhealth Great South Run historic dockyard

Simplyhealth Great South Run: participants pass by the historic dockyard

What’s your view of the outdoor events sector?
CM: It’s a very varied place, with festivals, the arts, sport and experiential working in their own areas, and often only linked by shared use of suppliers, venues or crew.

Within mass events, it’s been a crowded marketplace for some time, and a level playing field approach does not apply. The guidance we all need to work to and the level of welfare support we should all aim to provide is clear, but regulations are not universally applied nor is best practice always seen.

What is the main challenge for your events?
CM: Weather and changing city landscapes are regular challenges: all of our events have a bespoke wind action plan, and we used that to assess the risk to the recent Simplyhealth Great South Run where we were forced to both make changes to the site and cancel the Saturday programme of events due to Storm Brian.

We’re fortunate enough to work in major cities like Birmingham and Manchester but with that comes the changes to roads and tram systems that can mean year on year changes to event sites and courses.

What needs to be done for outdoor events to be successful?
CM: A lot of hard work! We typically have to provide everything, which means we have more flexibility than an indoor venue might but a lot more to sort out. In terms of what we offer, we have to ensure that we are constantly delivering and refreshing safe, well organised, fun and accessible events to our participants.

Simplyhealth run returns to Aberdeen

SimplyHealth Geat Aberdeen Run 2017

SimplyHealth Geat Aberdeen Run 2017. Photo as seen on Facebook

The Great Run Company, the UK mass participation provider, has announced that Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run will return in 2018 for a second outing.

With entries now open, the next event will take place on Sunday 26 August 2018 with the 10k, half marathon and Family Run all returning.

The inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run, held in August this year, saw over 7,000 people pound the pavements of the Granite City in the half marathon and 10k. The race featured the most scenic areas of the city, including Brig O’Balgownie and Old Aberdeen.

Runners, joggers and walkers travelled from as far as Singapore, South Africa, and the United States to take part in the race this summer. The organiser estimated £900,000 was raised for charity.

Union Street was packed with thousands of people, and participants can expect another scenic spectator-lined route in 2018, with many of the city’s landmarks on show.

Mass participation

The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is from the organisers of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon, held every year between Newcastle and South Shields.

It is being delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, VisitAberdeenshire, Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and is being supported by the Aberdeen City Centre Masterplan.

Kerry Simpson, communications manager at The Great Run Company, commented: “From the GB athletes leading the field to the youngest participants in the Family Run, this summer the city of Aberdeen celebrated the thousands of people running for fun, fitness and fundraising.

“It was an incredible sight in the city, and we’re looking forward to the return of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run.”

Next year will also see the return of the Business Challenge, supported by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, with companies competing for the prize of fastest business in the 10k, as well as the half marathon.

The 10k, half marathon and Family Run will return to Aberdeen on 26 August 2018. Photo as seen on Facebook

“As well as the economic benefits, the Great Aberdeen Run provides a real positive focus on health, wellbeing, charity and community and the Business Challenge is the ideal way for organisations to get involved,” commented Russell Borthwick, the Chamber chief executive.

Borthwick continued: “We know there are some friendly rivalries in the region, so it will be interesting to see these teams pitted against each other and would encourage as many businesses as possible to sign up.”

Economic impact

Commenting on the impact of the inaugural event, Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader, Jenny Laing, said: “The atmosphere for the inaugural run was incredible, the feedback from the running community was very positive, and we were delighted by the support for the event by residents and visitors to the city.”

Laing said the run showcased Aberdeen as a major events location. “Our Aberdeen 365 Events Programme demonstrates the commitment of our local and national partners that support our vision of development and sustainability of culture in the north-east.

“The programme provides an opportunity to promote and enhance the long-term economic prosperity of Aberdeen and the wider region by attracting visitors, both local and from further afield, to the city.”

The response to the Great Aberdeen Run has been fantastic. Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The first event this year was hugely popular. We can’t wait for it to return next year and showcase our great city to a wide-ranging audience.

“Aberdeen Inspired will always actively support events that we see will make a difference, and this exciting event certainly does. The impact of events to local businesses is essential, in terms of bringing people into the city centre and the positive knock-on effect of that.”

Good for tourism

As an outdoor event that takes place across the city, the inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run created an opportunity to boost the local tourism.

Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire, explained: “The inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run captured the imagination of people locally and internationally alike, and created an exciting weekend to be in Aberdeen.

“Scotland’s North East is a vibrant and lively place during the summer, with plenty of outdoor activities to entertain families and groups of all ages. The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is the perfect excuse to extend your stay and explore the local area,” Foy concluded.