The Stromlo Running Festival (SRF) is going to be one of the few events around the world to actually grow in 2020 when it takes off this weekend, 21-22 November.
The 2020 Stromlo Running Festival, the event’s 11th iteration, will see 1,800 runners participate this weekend, 21-22 November.
The 2019 festival sold out with a record 1,000 people, meaning miraculously in the year of COVID they have seen an almost 80% increase in participation.
That growth has been achieved that off the back of a lot of hard work and meticulous planning by organisers to produce a COVID-compliant event.
Having in the past been run over a day, this year’s festival will stretch its three runs out over two days, with 900 runners a day.
The 30k and 50k runs will take place on Saturday, with the 10k happening on Sunday.
Stromlo Running Festival director Mel Bingley said the strong turnout is further complemented by the fact 50% of 2020’s runners are new to the festival, and 70% local.
“It’s a bit bizarre really, we’ve bucked the trend, it shows that strength in the community, there’s just so much support for the event,” Ms Bingley said.
“It is an odd fact that we’ve almost doubled attendance in a year most events have had to postpone or cancel”.
Ms Bingley said the festival was able to have a lot of time to implement planning and organisation around COVID compliance given their November festival date.
To get over the line, they’ll start runners in groups of 100 separated by 20-30 minutes, separate start finish lines, one-way traffic flow, comprehensive pre-event and entry point health screening, sanitisation stations, COVID marshals, on-site cleaners, and are registered with the Check In CBR App to easily and safely record participant attendance with ACT Health for contact tracing purposes.
“All of those factors together are what helped us get an exemption … I can’t blame other events looking at the Everest, its’ been an extraordinary amount of work,” Ms Bingley said.
Ms Bingley and her husband Steven Bingley took on co-ownership of the festival ahead of its 2019 iteration and said bringing the event back to being completely locally owned and operated was a big “driving factor” for them.
“When the opportunity came up to be involved we thought we absolutely had to do it,” she said.
Ms Bingley said she’s relished the opportunity to work alongside Rob de Castella, SRF co-owner and director of the festival’s charity partner, Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF).
“Rob’s amazing, he’s an absolute living legend,” she said.
“He’s so giving of his time, so accomplished in his own right, all his experience is like an open book.
“For as long as I’ve known it’s been a charity partner … which has such wonderful synergy, our race celebrates strength and courage and community which is exactly what the IMF does.”
This year the SRF has raised $5,000 in participant donations this year that will go to IMF, which is more than double what the festival collected last year.