The English Cross Country Association often receives queries asking, if in this day and age of electronic entry and results, why is the closing date 7 weeks before the event? The length of time is usually queried by Clubs that miss the deadline by some margin.
The ECCA is an organisation that is managed and staffed entirely by volunteers; if all Clubs left it late in entering and missed the closing date, we would be unable to meet deadlines for The Championships.
The ECCA doesn’t operate a final closing date policy of miss the date and you’re out. We are prepared to accept that sometimes forms have not arrived and that duplicates have to be sent.
The ECCA has recently introduced an electronic entry system for those Clubs that wish to enter on-line. However for those Clubs that still want to enter by form, entry packs will be available 6 weeks before the Closing date this timing is in an attempt to avoid forms being put aside and lost. The ECCA policy is that the entry is the responsibility of Clubs but with the on-line setup they can decide whether to do it en-bloc or get the athletes in the Club to enter themselves. All athletes though must be a member of a Club affiliated to England Athletics.
What happens once entries close
1. We allow a few days to resolve any queries, such as athletes entered in the wrong age group due to incorrect dates of birth submitted and names incorrectly spelt.
2. The Championship Secretary then forwards the entry lists to the Association’s Computer and Chip Company and on average 7500 entries are sent each year.
3. The inputting and formatting take another 10 to 14 days and then entries are sent back for scrutiny. This covers Foreign Athletes, 1st Claim clearance and Affiliations. Note, that despite it being stated on entry forms and acknowledgement letters that only Clubs affiliated to England Athletics can enter, a number of Clubs fail to pay affiliation and athlete registration fees and this takes another week to deal with.
4. Two to three weeks before the event the Computer Chip Contractor allocates race numbers to athletes, the entry sheets then go to the Programme Editor for formatting ready for printing and are taken to the Printer 10 days before the event.
5. Meanwhile, the Contractor puts a number and a chip for each athlete entered into an envelope with instructions on how to use the chip, for distribution on the day.
6. ECCA puts a list of the entries on its web site so that everyone can see who has been entered and that no mistakes have been made with regard age groups etc.
7. Despite this Clubs are known to put athletes in races where they have not been entered, substituting for a non runner, thereby rendering the individual and team subject to disqualification.
8. Very occasionally an entry is genuinely lost during the process and if proven, the Race Officials have authority to enter an individual, even on the day! Our advice to Clubs is to gain proof of posting of entries from the Post Office, it is a free service.
The process is reviewed annually but we are unable to identify any slack in the system; the entry closing date will remain 7 weeks before the date of the Championships.