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Update (July 2024): It’s time to say goodbye

This is the hardest post we’ve ever had to write, and we can promise you that it doesn’t come lightly. With an incredibly heavy heart, we’re sad to say that Keep Running Rural will not be organising any events for the foreseeable future beyond the Cider Races/Piggy Plod weekend.

For the last 12 years, we’ve been organising races, as White Star Running for most of that time and for the last year under the Keep Running Rural banner. It’s been an amazing time and has become our way of life, carried along by the most amazing community we could ever have dreamed of. We’ve built up a lifetime of memories and witnessed inspiring stories along the way. We’ve made forever friends; and we’ve lost treasured members of our community along the way.

But ever since the Covid years, it’s been really, really hard. As most of you know, the business very nearly didn’t survive. We made huge cuts and even huger losses, even having to leave our premises. We made big changes to our business model to survive, but it was barely sustainable. We were really lucky to be offered some office and storage space from the wonderful James at Motorhome Retrofits above his own business, which gave us somewhere to work, and store kit and race essentials.

When our founder, Andy Palmer, decided it was time to retire from standing in fields and shouting at runners, White Star Running was taken over by Gemma Wilton, who’s been there from the start, and transitioned to Keep Running Rural as a new business (it was complicated and legally boring, but necessary to secure the future of the races). It’s been an incredible amount of work behind the scenes, with so many setbacks and obstacles along the way – we lost so many races to unpredictable bad weather that we’ve not been able to recover from. 

As a team, we’ve all put our heart and soul into KRR to make it work. But the complications, difficulties and cost of being a race organiser in today’s climate is exhausting, and has an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Things have never bounced back to where they were – fewer people have been entering races in general; habits have changed, the cost of living has risen and there are more races in the market. We’re a tiny team trying to put together a big dream, while also juggling the realities of real life around it all. We still have jobs to go to, bills to pay and families to spend time with.

We’re going to hugely miss organising events and feeling part of a running community, but we know there are lots of other great companies and clubs out there offering opportunities. We might even get a chance to run them ourselves! So, you’ll see us all around. We are also actively working with the village at Sydling to try and secure a future for the amazing Giants Head races, under another team.

Mapperton, Larmer & Banked Race Entries

There is a lot for us to do over the coming months. A few points for those with existing entries:

Mapperton Muddle / Larmer – If you’d like to complete either of these races virtually and earn your medal/goodies, please let us know by emailing [email protected] by 5th August 2024. We’ll then post your goodies out to you to complete in your own time. Otherwise, after this date, we will start working through the entries and refunding them all. This will take time, so your patience is appreciated. An email will follow to entrants after the Cider/Piggy weekend with more information.

Banked entries – If you wish to use your banked entry for the upcoming Cider Races or Piggy Plod this month, then you can do this. See our Race Transfer page for details on how to do this. All valid (ie within 12 months of being placed in the bank) entries in the bank will be refunded and, again, this will take some time to process manually.

We will also be listing kit and equipment on our website in the coming weeks, which includes things like reusable water bottles, marshal tabards, gazebos, tables, signage, storage boxes, safety pins, first aid kits, clipboards and everything in-between! We’d love to see this go to community groups, charities, running clubs, etc, who can make use of it, so as soon as that list is up, we’ll do another post, and you can get in touch with us if you need anything.

Goodbye & Thank You

The Cider weekend will be our goodbye weekend – a huge party to say thank you for all the memories, support, trust and company for the last 12 years. It will be emotional! We already have a band lined up, so if you’re around and want to come for one last dance in a tent with a cider in hand, camping spots and running places are still available.

The Facebook Group will stay open to chat with likeminded runners and as a place to share memories. And it will take time to dismantle everything and close it all down. There will be more posts to come as we work through it all, and we have a lot of thank yous to make to those who have been with us over the years – which we’ll talk about more once we’ve got through the last set of races. For now, all we can say is thank you to all of you for making it what it was. We’re sorry we can’t keep it going for you.

Keep Running Rural x

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