- The Inside Line
The million dollar track runKate Walker May 9, 2014
Before securing my first FIA press pass, Twitter was my window into the paddock. And while it was a wonderful resource for updates and insights, it was also rather intimidating for someone who hoped to join the ranks of accredited media on my feed.
You see, I am somewhat allergic to exercise, and based on my reading of Twitter, Formula One rather liked running. Running tracks, to be precise - those fixed length circuits with far too many elevation changes for the likes of a couch potato.
Five years on and I'm still allergic to both exercise and running. Luckily, however, the paddock's passion for running has only increased, and for the past four years each human-powered lap of the circuit has come with a financial bonus courtesy of UBS.
The brainchild of Simon Morillas (and a few beers on a night out), RunThatTrack was originally an informal competition designed to keep a group of friends in fighting shape when their lives were more circuit-based than circuit-training. But over the course of the 2010 season more and more people started taking part, and in 2011 UBS got on board as the official sponsor, offering $100 per lap run, with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Having snowballed, RunThatTrack is now a regular fixture of paddock life, with all and sundry - from team staff to journalists, and everyone in between - regularly lining up on the start line to complete their laps before logging times into tables and getting somewhat over-competitive about falling times and total distances completed over the course of the season. Running gear has become as de rigeur as a paddock pass.
"The idea was simple, take the simply peaceful and individual activity of running around the F1 tracks to a ridiculously crazy and completely over the top F1 level where competition and performance could be scrutinised and analysed (and strange conclusions drawn) by people who really should be doing other things," Morillas explained.
Some die-hards go out night after night, completing multiple laps every time, while others save themselves for the six official group runs a season. At the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, 234 people lined up to take part in the group run, an astounding increase on the handful of joggers who first started running the tracks together all those years ago.
Since 2010, 12,055 laps have been run, covering a distance of 68,998 kilometres. The runners - via UBS - have raised an impressive $909,600 in that time, and it's hoped that the $1 million barrier will be crossed on Saturday night in Barcelona, with the first European group run of the 2014 season. It's enough to make a confirmed couch potato consider picking up a pair of trainers for the first time in fifteen years…