Hi All,

LIke many people I suspect I was again bounced from the ballot for the PR100. I was chatting to a friend of mine and he suggested volunteering to be a marshall in the event. I thought it might be a good idea so I've looked into it and what I found actually really surprised me.

This event (and the London Marathon) are actually run by a private limited company - London Marathon Events Limited. The named Directors on Companies House are a mix of Public and Private sector people and include Baroness Grey Thompson.

I've been advised, and admittedly I do not know if this is true because it's anecdotal, that volunteers are unpaid (of course) and do not claim back expenses (despite this being against the government's own policy of best practice). I want to reiterate that I do not know if this is true as the details are not on the PRL100 website yet.

What I'm trying to get my head around is why would I want to volunteer for free to work for an organisation that is run by private individuals and that made over £4m in profit last year? Would this not be like working for free for my own employer (something which, when my boss emails me on a Saturday, feels like it's the case).

A little more research indicates that this is now common practice with people volunteering for mass participation events that are run for profit by private companies. It appears that running a private business under the auspices of a large sporting events allows a company to effectively recruit staff to run the event for free.

I'm not a cynic (alright, I am very much a cynic) but does anyone else think that if an event is run by a private firm then supporting staff should at least be paid something for helping to deliver it bearing in mind the profit being made by the organiser?




fenix [1051 posts] 6 months ago

I'm not sure about ride London but the marathon itself is a charity. So all profits go to that.

I've spent all day manning feed stations at Triathlons for private companies. You get a teeshirt and fed and watered but that's it.

Events wouldn't be able to happen without volunteers and it's good fun to do.

Some years I'll race it and you do appreciate the hard work of all of the volunteers.

I suspect that ride London will be a charity too.

wknight [59 posts] 6 months ago

I am a motorcycle Marshall at big events like tour of Yorkshire, Birmingham Velo, and we get mileage , a small lump sum for our time and if we have to come a long way because they can’t find local Marshall’s they provide a hotel and dinner. During the event we get a packed lunch but it’s usually not great so I always take my own food. 

Bluebug [351 posts] 6 months ago

I've volunteered for Ride London at a feed station for a couple of years, and have marshalled at some 10km running events in my area. It tends to be a good laugh, you can cheer on the participants you know and meet famous people/ex-international sports stars.

With Ride London my running club gets some free places the year after. So if you don't get in the ballot you may get in via one of the given free places. On the day you get a t-shirt, hat, water bottle, bag and lunch. If there is any food, gels, fruit etc left over then you can have some of it. Most of the food, gels etc plus the fruit has a short shelf life so there is no point giving them back to the sponsors and due to the type of stuff it is, it isn't any use for homeless shelters so goes in the bin. (The actual food like biscuits a homeless shelter could use is actually the stuff that runs out first, or the small amount that is left is in open packets so they can't take them.)

With the 10ks as most sports clubs are charities, if a private person/company organises it for profit they give a donation to the sports club for the use of the facilities and help with marshalling etc. There is always someone in your sports club who will be able to find out how much profit the person/company makes and will tell you personally whether to volunteer or not.

Plenty of people who do other sports or belong to running clubs also cycle and/or so triathlons but won't join clubs specifically for cycling/triathlon/running.

In regards to travel expenses - I only help out in local events so I walk or cycle to them. You have to get up early to help out e.g. 5am, so if they are more than 3 miles away I simply wouldn't do it.

StoopidUserName [486 posts] 6 months ago

The thing that most annoys me about RL is the extortionate amount they charge charities for a place. £375 I believe so that has to be taken away from any sponsorship you raise before any costs the charity has.

I know it still works out in the charities favour but nevertheless, I think it's disgusting when a normal place costs £75 and they make such a big fuss of the money raised for charity - would it be allowed to go ahead without the charity angle? PR would certainly be dead without it.

fenix [1051 posts] 6 months ago

Again like the London Marathon.
The event itself is a charity and it's aim is to raise as much as possible for the charity - The London Marathon Charitable Trust.

Over the years the charity has given millions of aid to the boroughs of London.
They'd not be doing their job if they organised the events and didn't maximize their return.