Francis: Road races not cash cows
Managing Director of Running Events Jamaica Limited, Alfred 'Frano' Francis, believes the perception that money will be made from road races and walks is overblown as oftentimes organisers suffer a loss from hosting these events.
Running Events Jamaica is a full-service race logistics management company that currently organises some of Jamaica's more prominent road races.
"We can say sincerely that the races we are involved in, there is a sincerity of purpose and integrity where the events are concerned. We make sure that there is a sincerity of purpose in what we associate with," Francis told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said he gets a call almost every day from individuals wanting to host a run/walk with the hope that they will be able to make money from such an event. Oftentimes, there is a charitable focus, but this is not always the case.
"One day a man called me and said that he owes a whole heap of money and he wants to pay it off, and he wants to have a 5k (five kilometres) so he can raise money and pay it off, and these are some of the things that people call me and say to me," said Francis.
"So even when certain institutions call me and they are not corporate, I tell them that they need to be a beneficiary, because they don't have the money to put on a race," added Francis.
He said organising a road race can be a very costly venture as an organiser has to pay the National Works Agency, the police who have a private duty clause, medical professionals, as well as pay for venue and security.
"You do a 5k, and you charge $500 for argument sake, and some of these races, they get like 100 people, how much money they make? $50,000? That can't pay nurse, police, this and that," argued Francis.
He noted that it can become problematic if a promise was made by the organiser of a run/walk that money from the event would be donated to a particular cause.
"I have done races, but I don't make any money and I have to find money and give the charity, because I go out in the universe and say I am going to do x and I have to do it," said Francis.
He noted that oftentimes, corporate entities fund the cost associated with hosting the events because they have a budget in place and the entry fee collected is then given to the charity.
"They know that if you go and you promise that you are going to do x, if you don't make the money today, you better find the money and make x happen, because you put your brand out there and you put your integrity out there," said Francis, who has been helping to organise races for more than 20 years.
He said he has come across a lot of people who meant well when hosting a 5k, but they were given a reality check after the event as sometimes the number of persons projected to attend did not materialise.
As such, Francis has suggested that the healthy lifestyle component should be the primary focus of road races.
"What is happening now is that there is the healthy lifestyle push which is very good, and which I think is the most valuable part of what we do, because you can't really quantify the value of promoting a healthy lifestyle," said Francis.