In my last update I outlined the three pillars that underpin a "CoVid Secure" environment that would enable us to re-open runs safely and sustainably - a robust risk assessment, additional volunteer training, and technology that enables us to "track and trace" run attendees. I would like to use today's update to share progress on these and where we are with plans are for re-opening.
Risk Assessment: This is now completed and provides the basis for all of our planning ahead of re-opening weekly runs. Whilst there is still underlying infection in the UK, we are taking a sensible and cautious approach towards re-opening whilst aiming to maintain the inclusive and welcoming environment our runs have always provided. A copy of this will be available on the website.
Volunteer Training: we have now completed a a period of active listening with our volunteer team that has included surveys and 121 discussions to understand concerns and identify any areas of additional training that may be needed ahead of runs re-opening, as well as a Live Q&A with myself and TMR Head of people, Jo Lee to answer any questions directly.
From this we have created a detailed Q&A for the Run Angel team and launched additional online training which many of our volunteers have already completed. The training covers everything from safe route planning, to looking after each other on runs, hygiene for runners and volunteers and creating safe interactions with the wider public. The feedback so far has been universally positive and we'd like to take the opportunity to thank our brilliant volunteers for always being so committed, investing the time to ask questions and to do the additional training. Without them, none of what we do would be possible.
Track and Trace Technology: As many of you know, pre CoVid we did not have a formal system for registering and scanning runners although we had plans to develop one. This has now become essential for us to operate our runs and so we have taken the decision to commit significant investment in the TMR App (in both IoS and Android) to add functionality that will enable us to register runners, check runners in and out of runs and stay in touch afterwards should there be any health concerns. This is now in development and we hope it will be completed in the autumn.
Until then, we plan to use an "off the shelf" App as an interim solution to enable us to progress to re-opening runs more quickly. We have tested a bunch, selected one and our volunteers will be testing it in small groups over the next couple of weeks.
This is a massive step forward and enables me to give you some clarity around the timing of our plans in the coming weeks.
So what's next?
Our goal has always been to create a plan and processes that will enable a return to all of our 60+ run locations at the same time and for runs to still feel as "TMR" as possible.
The reality is there is still underlying risks of infection and our runs typically operate in highly populated areas in towns and cities - and so while we will all be working hard to create a safe and welcoming experience for all of our runners every time, it inevitably also means a few changes. These include:
- pre registering for runs to enable us to manage group sizes
- using the App to check in and out of runs
- a reduction in the time taken for the pre-run briefing, warm up and cool down
- planning routes in quieter areas where possible
We also plan to open gradually, starting with groups of Run Angels to test our processes and technology; then extending to small groups of 6 to enable us to test how our groups work alongside the general public; before opening more widely once everyone feels comfortable to do so.
This process has already started, with the first group of volunteers running together earlier this week. We plan to move to the next stage - making runs available to small groups in all locations where we have active volunteers - in early September and I will update you on this soon.
We will be hosting a Live Q&A in the next couple of weeks to enable us to talk you through the plans in more detail and answer any questions you might have.
How will we continue to support the women unable to attend social runs?
This has always been front of mind for us in our planning - particularly in light of recent insight from Sport England that 75% of women avoiding exercise as lockdown eases for fear of what others will think. We very much feel the responsibility of providing a safe, non judgemental space in our communities and on our runs where all women feel they can they can take part.
With that in mind, we will be actively encouraging women who have not been able to run at all during lockdown for whatever reason to book a space on the weekly social runs.
In addition, with the support of our partners at Sport England, we have made our run coaching App, Run30, available for free until the end of September. With 24 coached sessions and a focus on minutes moving, rather than pace or distance, this is a brilliantly supported way to start moving more regularly and build up to 30 minutes of running at your pace. You can download the App here
In addition, whilst we will be operating our runs with smaller than normal numbers for now, we have deliberately ramped up our programme of virtual activities to be able to keep our community moving wherever you are. This includes a range of virtual run/walk challenges and weekly virtual classes that you can take part in at home. All of the details of these programmes are here
It goes without saying, we are grateful for your continued patience, support and love, it means the world - and I am constantly reminded what a special space the TMR community holds for us all. I will update you again next week and if you have any questions before then, please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
Much love to you all and stay safe,
Founder and CEO, This Mum Runs