Sunday, 16 November 2008

Hangin' up my RW Gear Editor hat

In June 2007 I took on the role of Gear Editor for Runner's World SA magazine; my first column was published in the August 2007 issue. Eighteen columns and months and a new day-job (started 2 weeks ago) later, I'm hanging up my Gear Editor hat; I no longer have the necessary time to assemble the monthly 3-16 page product features.

Writing product reviews is great fun but it requires a lot of admin; emails to suppliers; gathering appropriate products for the gear theme; whittling down the number of items according to the page count available; trying everything on or pushing its buttons, sniffing the scent, feeling the fabrics; and then writing an eloquent but informative comment on the item within a strict word count. Then I drop the products off with the photographer, submit my column, fetch the products, contact each supplier to send their courier and then it starts all over again.

For reference; it usually takes an hour (or more) to write one shoe review! That excludes the tame taken to open boxes, sort the shoes and select a few in line with my available page count.

In August I wrote 53 shoe reviews for Runner's World (Spring Shoe Guide, Sept08; Trail Shoe guide, Nov 2008) and Men's Health Buyer's Guide (Dec08) and I've just handed in the Summer Shoe guide (16 shoes, Jan09).

Despite the admin, the role has many pleasures. I've been able to see and try products months before they hit the shelves (that is a kick in itself); I've enjoyed good relations with many of my product suppliers - although I've met very few in person; and I still delight in seeing the final printed product after the layout whizzes (Fran initially and now Mark) at Runner's World have transformed plain text into a decorative multi-page spread. And even more pleasing is when strangers have approached me at events to chat about a product I've reviewed. It's really rewarding to discover that people actually read the columns - and find them useful!

And no, I don't get to keep all the products. Occasionally I do get cool stuff, but for the most part it all goes back. There is a limit to how much stuff one can use. People coming through to AR Club have occasionally been lucky recipients of freebies.

Mike Finch, Editor of Runner's World, gave me absolute freedom in choosing themes and compiling the content. I only needed to toss ideas his way for confirmation on space and timings. And the only time Mike stresses is when we get to mid-month and he hasn't seen my column. Luckily this happened infrequently (and mid-month is early anyway - so there was plenty time left over). Hahaha.

I love writing for Runner's World and I will continue to contribute odd articles here and there; I'm just unable to commit to the hours required for assembling the gear sections. The magazine has really gone from strength to strength in layout and content, especially over the past 2.5 years. Get a copy if you haven't seen it recently. It has great content to inspire beginner, serious and lapsed runners.

Saying farewell to this column is saddening; it feels like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend who has been with me constantly. But, it is a semi-farewell because I know I won't be away from the mgazine for too long, certainly on an occasional freelance basis.

Mike - thank you for giving me the opportunity to turn this section into my own. It's been an exciting and rewarding ride.

No comments: