Take a hike, freeloaders
Manawatu Striders officials were hoping to weed out freeloaders during tonight's fourth round of the Super Seven Series.
They have estimated that at least 200 are not paying to enter the 7km fun run and walk and are costing the Striders club about $600 in entry fees each night.
The Super Seven attracts close to 2000 walkers and runners every Tuesday.
Officials know some just turn up and mingle with the mass of people on the start line at Ongley Park and compete for free.
The club arrived at the 200 figure when they did a check last year and believe it was unlikely to have changed.
Striders spokesman Alister Martin said it was not fair on those who paid the fee of $3 each week.
"People can go and run for free but why run in the Striders event and take advantage of the organisation?" he asked.
He said those who didn't pay were "cheapskates" and a recent visual check revealed perhaps one in 10 competitors weren't paying.
Many of those also line up after the finish for the sausage and banana provided by the club and Striders officials intended being on the lookout in that area tonight. There are also spot prizes and giveaways provided as well as timing, water and toilets at the YMCA.
All participants who pay have a number written on their hand.
Tonight the Striders were to make an issue of it over the speaker system before the runners and walkers set off.
"We think $3 is a good price for what they get," Martin said. "It has been $3 for as many years as I can remember."
The series has been running for more than 20 years and the entry fee has been $3 from the first year it started.
He suggested clubs running similar events in other cities would be charging a lot more.
Checking the honesty of entrants at the start line does present logistical problems.
"What else can we do, short of lining them all up in a queueing process and checking everyone as they go through?
"We don't have the resources to manage that sort of thing."
Up to 40 volunteers run the event, whether at registration, St John staff or marshals on the course.
If the figures are accurate, the Striders are being done out of about $4200 in entry fees across the 7-round series. They charge only $8 for a family of up to two adults and three school-age children.
The Manawatu Striders (formerly the Manawatu Marathon Clinic) was founded in 1982.
- Manawatu Standard
How excited are you about the 2014 Commonwealth Games?Related story: After the hype, time to let the Games begin