Sponsorship and influence

(TL:DR I’m not sponsored, nor am I ever likely to be) 

A short, slightly ranty, explainer piece, to clear up a misconception, and a couple of snide, trollish* digs.  Digs about my status as a punter who’s somehow become a sponsored athlete and influencer.  

To get that idea in the rubbish bin straight off.  My what?  Such status is non-existent.  

Okay, the punter bit is, and on a really good day I might even approach the athlete bit.  But not the sponsored bit.  Though I have received some casual support from various companies over the years, for which I am very grateful.   Or the influencer bit either.  Because influencers, well, they’re young, extrovert, charming and attractive; I’m never been any of those. 

Yes, logos are visible on my kit, that’s how it comes when I buy it.  And yes, I write the occasional review of kit I use, kit usually bought from a local independent shop.  I write these reviews as a regular punter, figuring they might be useful to other regular punters.  After all, most of us are never going to get close to a big round record or a UTMB top five.  We will though, stagger over a dark peak mud pile or struggle up and down a big rocky lump between those enormous puddles in Cumbria.  And then be back at work,** often in the  same day. 

Right, for clarity what am I using?  All this, bar one pair of shoes, I bought with my own money.  Mostly Inov-8; seasoned with Patagucci(sorry Patagonia), 2XU, OMM, Harvey, Soreen, LifeSystems, Petzl and Montane.  Oh and good old Lifa base layers when it’s chilly.  Simply because it all fits, and it works.  As I’m from a mountaineering, not a running background, everything I use is more ultra light mountaineering rather than burled up running kit.  I expect things like rainshell hoods that keep the rain out, warm tops that actually are, and leggings that keep your knees warm.  In short, it’s kit that will survive, and help me to survive, in the moors, fells and mountains of these soggy, windy islands.  I’m still in search of the perfect sock though. 

So, if it came up, would I sign a full blown sponsorship deal?  Probably, maybe, I don’t really know.  It would depend on the detail; I’d need to see the deal(even if it was for dark chocolate Tunnocks wafers). 

But I’ve been around a while.  I know something of the work involved in being a sponsored athlete.  The sponsor has to get value, they need their ROI, more out than they put in.  A sponsored athlete will need to do talks, photoshoots, meet and greets, product launches.  They’ll probably be expected to race, maybe chase records.  There’ll be technical product development too, testing prototypes, giving precise feedback.  

So where does that actually leave me?  Well, I live with ADHD and fibromyalgia.  I’m old and slow; I have a body for radio, a voice for mime.  And, as I’ve said before, I’m an introvert more comfortable with books, Bach and cats than other humans.  Oh, I don’t race or chase times either, I run and climb for the sheer joy of being out there.  The techie stuff though, yeah that appeals, I’m happily a nerd.  There’s also a side issue.  Sometimes manufacturers treat local shops pretty high handedly.  A daft move, not at all innovative and one which is ultimately counterproductive.  I’ve been on the selling side of the counter, and know how being treated like that feels.  And it irritates me. 

Which of course means, like most of us, I’ve about as much chance of snagging a sponsorship deal as I have of beating Paul Tierney’s Wainwrights record. 

And that is fine … 

A simple cartoon of a runner altering a poster to suggest fun is more important the record times

Which means I’ll keep buying my kit; and be grateful for the occasional discount or freebie.  I’ll also keep doing the odd honest review of bits that pique my attention, either because they’re dire or excellent.  And I’ll continue to enjoy playing in the fells, sometimes writing about, photographing and painting them, and drawing silly cartoons about the frickin’ daftness*** of it all. 

*my sincere apologies to any Trolls on Discworld reading this, it’s Roundworld local vernacular, hence the lower case t

**yes, work does include looking after the house, fetching/delivering the kids to school &c

***and I didn’t think frickin’