Canalrace C.I.C. stages three premium quality ultra-distance footraces each year. The events are held on canal towpaths between Leeds and Liverpool; Birmingham and London, and Bristol and London, making them available to the widest community possible.
They are maintained on a not-for-profit basis to keep entry fees low, enabling runners of limited financial means to take part. An additional benefit is that the races have no entry criteria, so competitors do not have to have completed expensive qualifying races before entering.
In each event, at least half of the field is sustained, and given transport if necessary, by the organisers and volunteers. This makes the events achievable for those without friends or family to assist them. The friendly support given often leads to long-term friendships developing with runners stating that they feel they have joined a new family. In some cases their involvement with the races has helped to improve the mental health and social development of participants.
The stakeholders are the competitors who take part and the volunteers who staff checkpoints and feed-stations along the route.
The directors each have many years’ experience of competing in, assisting at, and organising similar events. They are well respected by competitors and volunteers, who are freely able to make suggestions for improvements, and/or criticisms, directly to the organisers throughout. This brings a strong feeling of involvement, often leading to long term commitment to the events.
As all event crew are unpaid volunteers, they are highly regarded throughout the community for “being there because they want to be”. This commitment has resulted in Canalrace C.I.C. events having a worldwide reputation for their friendly, family atmosphere.
Financial hardship support is available to runners on a case by case basis, as part of our committment to making our events financially as inclusive as possible and accessible to all. Get in touch in confidence to discuss your situation with us – be assured that any enquiry will be kept strictly confidential.
Wayne (Simo) Simpson came to GUCR via some of the world’s toughest races – including Badwater and Trans 333. After a Finish in 2003 and a DNF (probably through starting with two broken ribs) in 2005, he made the mistake of stating on his entry form that he was available to help if he didn’t get a place in the draw. His fate thus sealed, he became the most regular of the Regular GUCR Crew. As a Yorkshireman local to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, it is not surprising that he instigated the Liverpool to Leeds Canal Races and so became an obvious candidate for Canalrace C.I.C. Director.
Keith Godden is quite literally the saviour of GUCR. He first came to the race in 2009, but waited until 2012 to cross the Little Venice finish line. Liking the atmosphere of the event, he quietly offered to maintain its core values, when, in 2015, rumours that the current organiser was ready to give it up were confirmed. This was to be salvation for GUCR and LLCR. Under his guidance, and with the support of his family, Canalrace C.I.C has flourished and built a reputation for affordable events with top quality organisation. Being a Bristolian, with an interest in the achievements of I K Brunel, it was inevitable that a race from Temple Meads to Paddington would join the Company portfolio.
Dick Kearn was on the start line for the first GUCR, which had been hastily organised to commemorate 200 years of “Canal Mania” in 1993. Being fairly easy to recognise, he was often asked if, “that canal race you did”, would ever be staged again. Having tried his hand at race organisation on the Compton Forty, he eventually succumbed and began staging GUCR in 1996. By 2015, with the added pressure of responsibility for the Thames Ring 250 and Ridgeway 80 events, he was ready to retire from race organisation completely, but now actively enjoys the company’s shared responsibilities.
Ross Langton, although not a runner, has been an active supporter of GUCR for more years than he’d probably care to remember. He became involved through being a friend of the Kearn family – a misfortune suffered by many previous helpers. A keen amateur photographer, he has provided us with thousands of excellent pictures of competitors and crews. It has, however, proven difficult to find one of him, because he’s so often behind the camera. (This one is at Hatton in 2007!). In recent months he has also adopted the role of website developer and has been chiefly responsible for driving the Canalrace C.I.C. site to fulfilment.
Pat (Paddy) Robbins when once asked how he got into Ultra replied, “I stupidly entered GUCR 2007 expecting qualifying races etc. I was simply told to send a cheque for £30 – and I was in. It was a baptism of fire.” He finished fourth that year, but went on to win the race no less than five times, as well as winning the first Liverpool to Leeds event. As he has also represented England and Team GB in 24hour events and the Spartathlon, there can be no doubt that he brings to Canalrace C.I.C. a wealth of experience of running “at the sharp end”.
Jess Hall and Pete Chandler
Jess Hall and partner Pete Chandler have been involved in our canal-side activities since Pete entered GUCR 2006. They have stared/run along a variety of towpaths, including Bristol to London and Liverpool to Leeds, in the years since. As frequent participants and volunteers in both UK and International races, they have vast knowledge of “what it takes” from organisers’ and competitors’ viewpoints. Their professional experience will also be a huge help in the promotion and administration of Canarace C.I.C. activities. Their massive running claim to fame is that they featured as marathon runners in the 2007 film, Run, Fat Boy, Run. But you had to be really quick to catch them.