Serpentine is a long standing central London running club. It has it’s origins in Hyde Park, and the snake like lake in the middle, of the same name.
Runners of all shapes and sizes, speed, commitment and ability turn out to weekly club runs or track sessions, and some have even been known to skip straight to the post run pub meet!
One stalwart, however, of the Serpentine race calendar is the (infamous, for club members at least) monthly handicap race.
It’s a 4.3 mile race (or 2 laps of the lake) where anyone, whether you’re fast or slow, has a chance of winning. Let’s explain: each runner is given a ‘handicap’ race start time according to their pace. If you’re faster, you start later, if you’re slower, you’re given a head start, the aim being to beat yourself and come higher up the rankings. In reality, there’s a rush of finishers towards the end when the slower runners are nearing the finish and the faster runners have caught up and are hitting the home straight….it’s quite a sight!
But what are the mechanics? And what’s a payment solution for small businesses got to do with a club running race that sees around 70 runners in matching tops tearing down the North side of the Serpentine lake at around 9:30am on the first Saturday of every month? Take a deep breath, and we’ll tell you…
It’s all thanks to technology (and runners running, obviously, but apart from them), and breakthroughs in a payment solution for small businesses.
An algorithm works out everyone’s handicap start time across their last 6 races, giving everyone a rolling average of their running performance. Runners buy their specific handicap race number which is assigned to them and which they re-use every month. The manual bit is the time keepers on hand with stop watches to clock the runners in at the halfway point and finish according their number, which is then fed into the mighty algorithm for start times the following month.
So far so good. Then comes the 8:30am Saturday morning start time. Runners rush to get to the park to register in time with the volunteers organising the race. If they’re a new runner, they buy their shiny new £2 number and, if they’re a forgetful runner, they buy a shiny new duplicate £2 number.
Very few people have cash on them these days, and if they do, it’s probably not exactly the £2 needed. And this is where Ordo steps in, being a payment solution for small businesses. Clubs like Serpentine and most other amateur sports clubs and many not-for-profits are run by volunteers. For races, there’s enough essential kit to remember and set up on race day, like mile markers, finish funnel cones, marshall bibs, whistles and stopwatches, without having to remember card readers and that clanging bucket of small change, and working out what is the safest way to pay someone online and how you can enable this in the middle of a park.