Strength in Depth Final 2017
I was invited down by the organisers of Inferno racing to see the final of what can can be labelled the biggest Fitness Racing event in Europe and the search to find the fittest collective members of a fitness training establishment.
More importantly though, and what the main reason for my visit was to see was two fold.
- To see how the progress develops into the search of Sport recognition
- To compare just how the differences between Gym Sport and SiD have reached their respective levels (later blog)
The first is to see how the progress develops into Sport recognition, something that WGC had the painful process of undergoing in 2006. And this is where Id like to feature predominately on yesterdays event.
Harry Thomsett from Inferno Racing and now set to lead the way in The Federation of Fitness Racing gave a passionate speech during this event about the need to gain acceptance as a sport, he mentioned the amount of money table tennis receives each year to compliment its sport, then went onto make comparisons about the level of fitness seen here today and the lack of funding that goes into Fitness Racing and he has a point.
It is unfair for me to write an article to which most of the work that goes on in creating a sport is done behind closed doors, so this observational post, through discussions with Harry throughout the day and what I have seen and experienced over my past endeavours and what I saw take place yesterday. What I can say is its a tremendous slog. It is relentless and there is little reward for the hours spent when seeing little or no progress.
Is the obvious place to start. Its where I started and where the acceptance to be a sport is granted , through a very tough and long winded process. Only those with the very stout hearts and determination beyond their wildest levels of endurance need apply.
The first question is the obvious starting point?
Is there a need for Fitness Racing to have a NGB ?
And the over riding answer on every level is yes. Fitness Racing needs to be centralised with a governing body to oversee the structure and growth for future events. It is how sports develop and flourish.
If you take 2017 as the day the ball started to roll and look to the future of gaining acceptance. Then this process is at the foot of Mount Everest. The climb for recognition can take take in my opinion at least ten years. If the end goal is to be represented in the Olympics, then perhaps even longer – ask Squash if its been an easy ride? But then ask Parkour and what appears division into whether Parkour is a sport or an art. My point being that an NGB is needed to oversee Fitness Racing, but it will boil down to the mass participants supporting that notion, or if they just want to continue competing in existing events.
Once the momentum starts then its the politics that decide if it stays the course. In fighting, feuds, arguments, pressure of work, lack of empathy, frustration , are just the tip of the iceberg, but all are cracks in what has to be a unified structured approach. If you do not have the bond and a joint vision, you do not have a start point in which to create your platform. After all, what’s to say that in five years time, somebody else comes along and begins their own process, that is well financed, planned and has all the hall marks of the perfect set up. So if Fitness Racing is to have a chance, those that are in the driving seat, need the support of those are representative of the sport they represent.
Will Sport England accept that a NGB is needed?
Looking at the website for Sport England and their new attitude in acceptance to a changing platform in sport , then perhaps, they may just give Fitness Racing a chance. If FR can adhere to the five principles of acceptance, then there could be a start process. But that is also true for any activity seeking acceptance as a sport, so this is why its vital for the FR community to start looking at Grass Root growth, rather then elite races, to build on.
Taking the next level
From what I saw yesterday. FR is a 360 Activity. It encompasses much of the structure from many sports and combines them into a format that allows its own unique individual and team athletes to be acknowledged as some of the fittest and most inspiring athletes in the UK today which have been created from a Grass Root level. None of the athletes have been funded. They train in their own time, many holding existing and very demanding jobs and furthermore, the expense to compete is met by their own finance.
My concerns at this point.
Identity . Sport has to have its own identity. Where do you pull participants of your events for a sport ? Now it seems that from yesterday, a large percentage if not all were from certain training establishments from all over Europe. And this brings with it its own risks in engaging into the need for Sport acceptance. As what works now will work in ten years time, only be more refined (and it was pretty slick yesterday), so is there a need for an NGB ? Drawing from an affiliation backed company for your participants, means that effectively, you are dependent on their support and possibly sponsorship. What you don’t want to do is come into conflict or bite the mouth of those who supply the athletes.
As to who is the Governing Body. Simply put they will be the ones who run the show and will decide the future of all Fitness Racing Events.
Without question an NGB into Fitness racing is needed. There has never been a better time to start this ball rolling. But that is just a brave vision of the few who dare to look at the potential. And there lies the problem. When a mass market has potential, then it is often followed up , by a pack willing to nip, bite , scavenge and destroy at the bricks that have to be laid in the process that leads to acceptance.
Harry , I wish you every success in your journey. Its a brave thing you do, which will be relentless and unforgiving over many days ahead.