New venues

Thursday new venue guide (pdf)
Saturday new venue guide (pdf)

The exciting news at London Frontrunners is new venues for both Thursday and Saturday runs. The facilities at both are a huge improvement on St Mary’s Hospital and we hope that the new venues will quickly become established as permanent homes for these runs.

Our Co-President Jamie will be hosting a live Q&A session on Facebook at 8.30pm on Tuesday 14th August to answer any questions that you may have. Just go to the members’ Facebook group. We will then use this to issue a detailed Q&A document on the website later that week.

Good news – new venues for Thursday and Saturday runs

Many of you have been wanting us to look for new changing room venues for our Thursday and Saturday runs to replace St Mary’s Hospital. The current men’s changing facilities in particular have limited capacity, are cramped, sweaty and don’t have enough lockers. This has been one of the reasons why numbers on Thursday runs have fallen significantly to around 15–20 per run since we lost our previous Thursday venues in Soho.

One consequence of this Thursday reduction been that numbers have increased significantly on Monday runs especially since we moved from similarly cramped facilities at St. Thomas’ Hospital to the Castle Centre which is now struggling to cope, impacting on the user experience for both Frontrunners and regular centre users.

The Seymour Leisure Centre and the Porchester Centre

We have worked closely with Westminster Council to source some quality new venues for both days. Whilst we have been looking for a new venue for Thursday since we lost our venues in Soho this has proved difficult and we are grateful to Westminster for their support.

The new venue for Thursday is the Seymour Leisure Centre between Edgware Road and Baker Street, and for Saturday is the Porchester Centre in the Bayswater / Royal Oak / Paddington area. Exact locations can be found on the Everyone Active website at:

Seymour Leisure Centre
Porchester Centre

The arrangements at the Seymour Leisure Centre include a dedicated bag store in place of lockers to avoid the risk of the venue running out of lockers. This is similar to the old process on Mondays which worked well. Final arrangements for the Porchester Centre are subject to confirmation.

Cutover dates

The last Thursday run at St. Mary’s will be Thursday 9th August and the first one at the Seymour Leisure Centre will be Thursday 23rd August. There will be no Thursday run on Thursday 16th August. Provisionally, the last Saturday run at St. Mary’s will be Saturday 8 th September and the first one at the Porchester Centre will be Saturday 15th September. This is subject to confirmation. There will be no Saturday run on Saturday 11th August.

New booking procedure

As many members will be aware one of the reasons we had to leave Soho on Thursday was that we lost one venue simply because there were too many of us for the size of facility impacting regular gym and swimming users, who will naturally always be any leisure centre’s priority. In order to avoid this we are having to introduce a strict limit on numbers, which is agreed with Westminster Council, using the new facilities. The numbers will be capped at 45 per session.

As a result a new booking procedure will be introduced for the first time. We are going to trial this using Outsavvy, an event management system. We realise that this is something new for Frontrunners, as all previous runs have been open for any Frontrunner members to turn up to on demand. However, it is a requirement that Westminster Council have laid down and one that we must adhere to in order to use the new venues. If you are not using the changing facilities there is no need to book and there is no restriction on numbers. It is important to remember that even with capped numbers, the capacity at Thursday runs will be increasing substantially because of the new facilities.

How will the booking system work?

Links to the event in the booking system will be issued in the e-Bulletin on the Monday before the runs, i.e. you will have 3 days’ notice for Thursday runs and 5 days for Saturday runs. You will need to book a “ticket” to the runs you want to go on if you wish to use the changing facilities which will be issued on a first come first served basis. A limited number of tickets will be initially reserved for female identifying members and for new runners.

On the night you will need to bring your membership card and check in with the Circle Leader to be checked against the list of ticketholders. We will set up a reserve list for those who want to come but miss the deadline, for example because other plans have changed). More details about how this will work will be published soon.

Feedback

We appreciate that there are some significant changes here so please bear with us whilst things bed in. Further details about the new processes and venues will be issued via the e-Bulletin and on the LFR website and members’ Facebook groups.

If you have any specific feedback or queries please speak to a member of the Committee on your
regular running night or e-mail the Co-Presidents at [email protected] including
the title “Venue Change Feedback”.

 

Here are some more detailed Q&As including the questions you’ve been asking us most frequently:

Why are we capping numbers and introducing a booking system?

As a result of previous problems with numbers of runners putting pressure on changing facilities, to the detriment of regular gym and swimming users, Westminster are insisting that we control the numbers using the facilities. This is supported by the LFR committee as we do not want to risk losing further good venues. We are therefore going to trial a booking system and will be monitoring how it works and listening to your feedback.

In order to avoid pressure on lockers at the Seymour Leisure Centre we will also be introducing a bag storage room that Frontrunners will need to use instead of lockers. We used to do this on Mondays and Wednesdays and it worked well. There will be no need to book if you do not use the changing facilities.

We would like to stress that the number cap, at 45 runners, will still facilitate a substantial increase in numbers on Thursdays and hopefully relieve some pressure on Mondays. The use of booking systems is common to other sports clubs where numbers have to be controlled, such as team sports. The growth of London Frontrunners over the last few years is clearly to be welcomed but exacerbates problems with facilities; we are keen that LFR retains its policy of offering good quality changing facilities at weekly runs.

Can I give my bag to someone to lock in the venue if I miss out on a place?

Yes, we don’t see a problem with members giving their bag to another member to store at the venues during the run. Please remember this will be at your own risk and you will not be allowed in the venue to retrieve your bag, so make sure you give it to someone you will be running with.

I am already a member of Seymour Leisure Centre / Porchester Centre – do I need to book with LFR?

No. If you are an Everyone Active member with access to either of our new venues, please use that membership to gain access to the venues.

I don’t need a shower, can I just turn up at the Circle?

Yes. Everyone is welcome at the circle, no reservation required.

Where will the food and drinks be?

On Saturday there is no change to the brunch. On Thursday evening we will be eating at a restaurant near Marble Arch (the Spaghetti House) followed by drinks at the City of Quebec.

What about all the people who will miss out?

We understand that this is the first time members have had to book a place for a shower and bag drop, however it’s not the first time we have had agreed numbers with our venues. We have negotiated the maximum number of places possible with our two new venues, which is above the average number of members who run on Thursdays and Saturdays. We average 19 members running on Thursday evenings and 36 on Saturdays. We understand there are peak days with more runners, which is essentially why we have the booking system.

But it’s not fair that people miss out on lockers / bag storage.

We agree. Members are already travelling to our venues, missing out on a locker and having to head home disappointed. We think it’s better that members know in advance that there is a guaranteed place for them.

I pay membership, don’t I have the right to run whenever I want?

Yes, you do. Running will always be available to all members without booking, starting at the circle. However in order to offer sustainable changing facilities it is necessary to implement a booking system. The vast majority of Frontrunners clubs do not offer shower facilities, so we are really lucky here in London. Your membership does not entitle you to unlimited use of our venues whenever you choose to show up, but the right to seek access.

Why don’t you just get more venues? They should feel lucky to have us!

Large groups like ours are a big inconvenience for our venues. Leisure Centres are funded for local residents to enjoy physical activity, not to provide showers for running clubs. We are extremely lucky to be guests in the venues we have, especially considering our tiny budget. At this stage we have as many venues as our budget will allow.

Why don’t you just use the Club’s reserve to pay for more venues?

We are.

What was wrong with St Mary’s? It’s not even closing down now anyway!

St Mary’s is a hot and unhygienic environment. The showers regularly flood meaning runners are standing in sullage and the water is exceptionally hot with minimal ventilation. While St Mary’s has a temporary stay of execution, we believe it would be negligent of the Committee not to act on the risk of losing a venue for two of our runs. Westminster Council offered to relocate our Thursday and Saturday runs in one go and we gratefully accepted.

What if you lose lots of members over this?

We believe this is the right decision for the Club at this time and hope it will encourage our dormant members to renew. We’re confident the location and condition of the new facilities will be attractive to members.

Can’t we move back to Soho or somewhere more central?

We have been searching for new venues for some time and this has proved difficult. Westminster council agreed to meet us and review all of their venues and these were the ones we agreed on based on location and facilities. Our old venue at Marshall Street was not offered as an option due to its limited changing room and locker capacity.

How will the booking system work?

Links to the event (i.e. the runs) in the booking system will be issued in the e-Bulletin at 11.00am on the Monday before the runs, i.e. you will have 3 days’ notice for Thursday runs and 5 days for Saturday runs. This will include the passwords needed to access each event.

You will need to book a “ticket” to the runs you want to go on if you wish to use the changing facilities which will be issued on a first come first served basis. A limited number of tickets will be initially reserved for female identifying members and for new runners. On the night you will need to bring your membership card and check in with the Circle Leader to be checked against the list of ticketholders.

We will set up a reserve list for those who want to come but find that tickets are sold out by the time they try to book, for example because other plans have changed close to the run. Contact [email protected] to be added to the reserve list. We will also reallocate unused tickets in particular categories. To reiterate, we will be looking to refine the process in light of experience so please keep an eye out for updates.

Where do I go on the night?

There is a separate detailed guide to Thursday nights on the website. For the first 2-3 weeks the Circle Leads and Assistants will be joined by Committee members who were on the test run so that we have enough support to make sure everyone knows what they should be doing. Remember you must check in with the Circle Lead when you arrive.

I’m not subscribed to the e-Bulletin

The links to the booking events for Thursday and Saturday will be sent in the e-Bulletin. If you are not subscribed to receive this contact [email protected]

But what my plans change late on so that I can’t make a run I’ve booked a ticket for or I can make a run
I thought I couldn’t and didn’t book?

We recognise that many of you have jobs that make it difficult to plan or that have a habit of changing your plans at the last minute. This is why we are looking at the best way of setting up some sort of reserve or waiting list and working out the best way of managing it. For now please contact [email protected] if you want to come along but find that the ticket type you are after is sold out and wish to join the reserve list.

In the meantime please be sensible and only book runs you are intending to come to and have a reasonable chance or making, and give as much notice as possible if you can’t make it.

How does this impact new runners?

We will hold limited places for new runners based on historic numbers, and new runners will need to let us know in advance what run they want to come to so that they can book a place.

The new members’ runs will cease as trying to concentrate new members on a limited number of runs each month will not help to maximise the number of spaces for regular members. We are looking at other ways to support new runners.

I’ve got some concerns / brilliant ideas / other feedback….

We appreciate that there are some significant changes here so please bear with us whilst things bed in. Further details about the new processes and venues will be issued via the e-Bulletin and on the LFR website and members’ Facebook groups.

If you have any specific feedback or queries please speak to a member of the Committee on your regular running night or e-mail the Co-Presidents at [email protected] using the
title “Venue Change Feedback”.

Are any changes planned for Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday /
Thursday track / long runs or any other Club events?

We will review how the implementation of the new system for Thursdays and Saturdays goes but at the moment there are no plans for any changes to any other running nights or club events. In particular we are hoping that the new venues will increase numbers on Thursday runs and relieve some pressure on Monday runs. Wednesday run numbers are healthy and suited to the capacity at Kentish Town Sports Centre which is a good quality facility in a popular location.