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The Great Manchester 10k Run – A cautionary tale

Last Sunday saw over 40,000 participants run the Great Manchester Run. The 10km route flows past iconic Manchester landmarks such as Old Trafford and the Lowry; eventually finishing on Deansgate in the heart of city. The event saw a diverse mix of athletes, varying from Olympic champions such as Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba, to novice runners who were running to raise funds for charities. It’s this mix that makes events like this so special. With thousands of spectators cheering you on, I think I speak for both of us when I say our first Great Manchester Run will live long in our minds!

But what links a 10k run, performance testing and ticket vendor websites? Well, like most things in life, preparation affects performance, and the tale of Trust IV’s two runners is no different. My tale in particular sounds familiar to those ticket vendors who have recently suffered website performance problems. …

Preparation is key

Last week, Gordon described why he was running the Great Manchester Run and listed the gadgets he’s been using to help him train.  Both he and his wife, Lou, had been preparing for several months and ran fantastic times on a scorching Sunday. They had planned ahead and trained to get themselves in good shape to run their best possible times.  Gordon had put the hard graft in early and was able to progress from the “occasional two mile run”, to comfortably completing 10k.

I on the other hand, didn’t prepare as well. After an extended holiday in America, I signed up for the run one week before the event on a bit of whim. I certainly over indulged with the cheeseburgers whilst in the States; but with three relatives participating and with the date free, I had no real reason not to sign up. I knew/hoped I was fit enough to get around the course but a ‘decent’ time was always going to be out of reach. I went for three or four runs before the race but this was no real preparation, and my time of 59" was the most I deserved.

Ticket vendors never learn

Looking back at our respective ‘training plans’, the old 7 Ps adage (or in this case six…) Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance, is so true! This is something that all companies should take note of, but in particular online ticket vendors. Only last week, Ticketmaster delayed the sales of IRB World Cup tickets to allow time for additional testing. This was a result of the “fiasco” which they had with Commonwealth Games ticket sales.

Let me put this into context of the 10k. It’s like me asking the organisers of the event to delay the race date to give me enough time to prepare. Ticketmaster have had more than enough time to prepare and test their website prior to their original ticket sales date, but failed to do so. As a CUSTOMER, asking for more time suggests that proper planning and preparation hasn’t been done. I wonder just how much additional, comprehensive testing can even be done in a week to ensure that the website will hold up. As I experienced before the 10k, three or four runs the week before the race weren’t enough to improve my performance.

We have mentioned several incidents with ticket vendors struggling with load on this blog; One Direction, See Tickets outage during the recent Froch/Groves fight and last October we highlighted the problems with the Commonwealth Games site. All of these episodes have been swept neatly under the carpet, but last week’s debacle with Commonwealth and then World Cup ticket sales demonstrate that web failures are reaching the public domain more frequently and louder than before. 

On to the next one…

Borland Software’s Chris Livesey predicts that a successful games will see customers forget their ticket purchasing pains and saviour the few weeks of sporting excellence. He rightly says this a cycle will continue, but isn’t it time that ticket vendors look to stop it? With more adequate testing couldn’t they eliminate these reoccurring stories? Don’t they want an easier life? I know as a customer who uses their website, I certainly would!

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