"Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once and I think I got away with it."

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

- Basil Fawlty, 1975

At the end of 2017 when we founded AAA Racing & Coaching, my feeling was that as long as we were still around by the end of 2018, we should be okay. It's been tight and a bit rough at times. Weather events and bush fires have presented challenges with a couple of cancellations and rescheduling in that time, but we've managed, though we have to confess to dropping the occasional ball here and there!

But we hadn't accounted for what we're seeing around us now: C***** ... the 'C-Bomb'!

In recent weeks, we've seen events cancelled under circumstances that would seem unavoidable given their scale, others that have fallen foul of conditions imposed by other stakeholders and some that maybe have been called prematurely, only time will tell.

The custodians of these events range from international organisations to businesses small and large, some simply sole-traders, to running clubs, tri-clubs and associations who's livelihood may not depend on the events, but the continuation of them beyond this year could be severely impacted by their cancellation or postponement.

For our part, some of these organisers are long standing friends made participating in events way back when the calendar was a skeleton of the animal we know now. Some are business acquaintances that we've made over years that have gone on to become friends as well as business partners, some of whom are practically redundant as they are dependent on the running of events to continue operating. The Timing Wizards for example (who do a lot of our timing), have not only provided services for us but have also supplemented AAA Racing's revenue as we've taken on the timing of other events under sub-contract - with pretty much all triathlons cancelled they, like many others who are part of the industry, are watching everything appearing to worsen.

Ditto for every coffee van, food van or suppliers of every kind that depend on sporting events across the world, not just Australia.

Long standing and firmly established events both in Queensland and interstate have been impacted and will continue to be so. Even events that have been scheduled well beyond the suggested scope of the situation are now being impacted by the rescheduling of larger events that share some of the participation.

The Great Ocean Walk 100s for example, now finds itself submerged in a plethora of newer events that have rescheduled dates in October (when GOW100s has always been scheduled), but it's not 'trendy' so is likely to suffer. On the other end of the scale, The Buffalo Stampede has been cancelled and along with that cancellation came a torrent of abuse (but a whole lot more support) directed at race director Sean Greenhill, largely for implementing a long standing refund policy that has been published on the event website since its inception, regardless of the challenges that we are facing now. What many wouldn't know is that Sean is based in the Blue Mountains and in addition to several visits to the Victorian High Country runs a temporary base there in the weeks leading up to the event and runs some sizable logistics to ensure the event is run.

Both these events are examples of directors who have given countless hours to the community over many years.

We know that many in all walks of life are looking down the barrel of a gun at the moment and, while running in an event may be of little importance to the general public, we can only look at it relatively and from our point of view. Even then of course, we represent a small part of a community that's being hit in all areas but it does seem that while the majority of the public see the NRL, AFL, city marathons and larger scale events such as UTA being typical of 'sporting events', unless you're in the habit of participating, then you're likely not aware of any running events, trail or otherwise, other than Parkrun 'and that's free anyway, right?' Most events of a few hundred or less are very low on the radar for the community at large.

Most operate on a stringent budget and are dependent on sustained cash flow but, like many sole traders and small businesses, AAA Racing & Coaching have no bail-out, no one off payment. On the plus side, we have no loans or debts that the business is liable for and no fleet of new vehicles on lease (ironically, if we had debts and similar commitments we'd be in line for a lot of relief). As individuals though, we do have a mortgage, we do have overheads and we do have services.

Gemma Dale of the Events Team, WA puts it like this

What's the difference between us and the individuals like yourselves who participate in our events? Or the local grocer, mechanic, garden services, etc.? Nothing. That's the point and it's applicable to most who occupy a place like us in the running community. We're in the same boat as everyone else.

Your boat ... our boat.

So, what's our point? Well, be patient if you can. Attend events, those that are still running, if you can. Don't if you shouldn't. Attend those that are rescheduled on the new dates if you can.

We're operating within the boundaries of the Government directive and we have sufficient scope that we can remain within those boundaries if further restrictions are applied beyond those that are currently in place so, hopefully, we'll be able to fulfill our calendar with some changes to how the events are staged as and how they need to be.

Oh, and leave some toilet paper on the shelves. We're lucky in that we have some stock for events but it's not something we typically keep a supply of - we'd hate to cancel an event after all that's going on just because we haven't got any loo roll!

AAA Racing & Coaching's refund policy is included in the waiver viewed on registration and is on every page of the AAA Racing & Coaching website at

The ACCC's guidelines for event organisers can be viewed here:

ACCC - Consumer Rights & Guarantees

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