News that the Men's 10K race has come to a dead end due to lack of funding risks making a mockery of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games legacy.
The expense of staging the Games was always justified on the basis that it would do much more than create a short-term feelgood factor in the city; it was supposed not only to lead to economic regeneration in deprived areas, but to inspire whole communities to become more engaged in physical activity. Goodness knows, that is a worthwhile goal: Glasgow's health record, especially that of men in deprived areas, is an ongoing source of deep concern.
The Men's 10K, which takes place each year on Father's Day, may not be the direct responsibility of Glasgow City Council or the Scottish Government, but both do have a responsibility now to act to make sure the event does not go under. The Men's 10K Festival attracted 4,000 men and family members this year, and targeted a group, adult males, among whom rates of heart disease, stroke and obesity are stubbornly high.
The race is staged in Glasgow, where male life expectancy is 72.6, the lowest for any area of the UK and more than 10 years behind the longest-lived area, East Dorset. In some parts of the city, it is substantially lower even than that. The Men's 10K is designed to boost rates of physical exercise and prevent health problems occurring. What could be more important than that?
Adult males, particularly middle-aged men, are notoriously hard to reach when it comes to encouraging a more healthy lifestyle. They visit their doctor less than women do and most men have long stopped playing football and other team sports by the time they reach middle age - if they ever exercised at all. Women tend to dominate the zumba, aqua aerobics and myriad other exercise classes offered in gyms, community centres and church halls. There are fewer organised classes and sporting events aimed specifically at men. The Men's 10K therefore occupies an important niche.
Finding financial backing for races will always be a challenge. In 2012, the Glasgow Women's 10K lost its sponsor of 16 years, Ignis Asset Management (previously known as Britannic and then Resolution), and it is now the Bupa Great Women's 10K. The loss of Ignis came in spite of the race being the UK's biggest women-only running event, with nearly 10,000 participants.
The Men's 10K has seen numbers rise dramatically since in 2006, when it attracted 1,400 runners, and has the potential to get much bigger, but as a sponsorship opportunity it is perhaps disadvantaged by being smaller than the women's race.
So what now? There must be a hope that, in view of the publicity surrounding its demise, a sponsor will still come forward, but if not, then Glasgow City Council, sportscotland, the Scottish Government or some combination of these and other bodies should come together to find the money to make it happen. It would reflect very badly on the Commonwealth Games legacy if this important event could not be saved.
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