This post contains a little strong language, but heck it’s about time we got a bit shouty on the topic of mandatory gear.
For a small percentage, the message around mandatory gear and following race rules flows into one ear and out of the other. Currently we’re in what I regard as a bit of a ‘funny’ season here in Australia. Summer is doing it’s best to stride out, but every now and then we get a reality check and the weather turns. What also happens during this period is a number of runners think they know best when it comes to mandatory gear. With the growth of trail running, we see a growth in complete disregard for race rules around gear too. This has happened at a number of mountain running events in the last few weeks and this week too. What’s even more remarkable are pictures of athletes winning races, clearly not carrying their gear. Either a.) They simply don’t care or b.) They’re extremely stupid.
So let’s break this down. How many of you have actually used your mandatory gear in a race? Most probably never… a few of you a couple of times at most. Seems like a bit of a drag doesn’t it? Carrying all that stuff when you know you’re not going to need it.
But this is not about you.
You see, mandatory gear is a little like car insurance. Most of the time, you’re a responsible driver and highly unlikely to have an accident and never need it – heck, think of all the money you’ve spent on it and never once used it. Just doing the sums, I’ve spent about $25k on car insurance over the last 20 years and never once claimed… hmmm maybe I should just stop paying it.
But hey, guess what? It’s the f**king law and I need it, dip shit.
I know that 999 times out of 1,000 I’ll never need mandatory gear, but hey guess what? It’s a f**king requirement of being able to put on the race idiot!
So if you’re one of those people who ‘decides’ that you don’t need your mandatory gear then please remove your head from your arse for just one minute and employ a little emotional intelligence and think… just think about how, when and why you might need that gear. I’m not going to spell it out for you, it’s blindingly obvious. I’ll admit once upon a time, I was a bit of a dickhead about mandatory gear. Then I got caught on top of a mountain in a freak storm, ironically carrying more gear than the required mandatory list before getting carted off to hospital with hypothermia.
Parks Authorities in this country are already strict and dubious in nature about our sport at the best of times. This type of behaviour places those concerns front and centre of why they shouldn’t continue to support the fact that 99% of us love running and respect the rules of the races in which we partake.
The simple fact is this. If you don’t want to abide by the rules of a race, then don’t enter. I’ve heard plenty of rumblings regarding mandatory gear lists, particularly for the Four Peaks Challenge (Facebook posts are abound with opinion), which has been going since 1979. Back then, a bottle of stashed water on the course and a few biscuits might have been all you were required to take with you. In fact, if you’re doing this type of thing under your own steam, then do what the heck you like.
Times have changed, regulations are greater and Parks Authorities have stipulated greater requirements on race directors to ensure the safety of ALL competitors (NOT JUST YOU). For some races to even survive and meet the requirements of Parks, you have to accommodate for the lowest common denominator. You might be a bit of a handy runner, but you’re also a bit of an arse for believing you know best for you.
The really simple answer to all of this is that if you don’t like the rules, then get stuffed and don’t race. The selfish actions of a few can place the entire race for hundreds at risk in future years, and all because a few people think they know better than others. But it’s not just spoiling an experience for other people. I know first hand and have seen, the tireless efforts race directors place into putting events on. I also know a number of them who are considering quitting the sport altogether because the pressure and the admin involved is becoming too great for such little return. For some, it’s a way to earn a living and the margins on some races are too tight. So when idiots decide to take matters into their own hands, they’re also putting the livelihoods of people at risk too.
If you want to participate in the sport and compete in the races on offer, you have to play by the rules… If you don’t want to play by the rules, piss off and run a fat ass.