Don't be a bum - carry your bag!

­A personal plea from Tim Werrett, as a result of one or two incidents at Shropshire races over the winter for which friends of ours (who we are all indebted to for their services to fell running) bore the brunt.­

They don’t cost much, they don’t weigh much (personally when I wear one I hardly know it’s there), they don’t overload your kit bag, and their contents can potentially save your life. Yet fell runners’ opinions of bumbags, and whether or not they should be forced to carry them in races, differ quite widely. The most hard-line ‘anti’ bumbag remark is something like “If I sign a disclaimer then I run at my own risk, so if anything happens to me then the organiser is covered. Why should I be told I’ve got to carry kit?” On the face of it this sounds fair enough doesn’t it? Grown men and women should be responsible for their own actions and as long as the organiser warns them of the potential dangers then they have acted responsibly. Unfortunately the law doesn’t quite­ see it like that. Apparently if you die in a race then your family can sue the organisers. The fact that the organisers have followed FRA guidelines, took out insurance and got you to sign a disclaimer merely makes them look better in court. It doesn’t completely absolve them of responsibility. If the judge lives in the real world then the case may be thrown out. If not, and there is evidence that FRA guidelines weren’t adhered to, then who knows what might happen, which is why organisers may often ask runners to carry specified kit. NOT because they want to be awkward, but to COVER THEIR OWN BACKS!

We are all indebted to race organisers and in my view blatantly flouting the rules of their races is no way to repay them, when all they are trying to do is protect themselves and the future of fell running. Imagine, God forbid, if an organiser was successfully sued to the extent he had to sell his house (or worse) to pay for the damages, and all because half the field decided they didn’t need to carry bumbags because (despite being an AM category race) it was all below 2,000ft and there was glorious sunshine. How would you feel if you were one of those runners who had helped demonstrate the organiser’s apparent lack of regard for FRA rules, however petty they may seem (and I agree, they are petty, but that’s not the point!) I’ve never organised a race and if I did I wouldn’t know where to start. What I do know is I could do without the hassle of having to do random kit checks, given most entrants would be regular fell runners and therefore know full well what was expected of them. I’d be happy enough to bring along with me some spare waterproofs just incase any novices turned up not knowing any better. It would be a terrible shame to turn people like that away from a race (and probably the sport as a result) but most of us do know better. DON’T WE? You hardly know you’re wearing them, and
if you keep one pre-packed (waterproofs, compass, whistle, you can usually obtain a map at the race) in your kit bag all the time, then you won’t forget to bring it. Sorry to rant, I’m not getting at anyone personally (honestly!) but finally, don’t take my word for it. If you don’t believe me read Feet in the Clouds Chapter 21. Risk and Responsibility.

Thanks for listening and hope you find my other article more fun reading!

Tim Werrett