Arena’s Mass Participation Team prepare for a busy Summer of Cancer Research UK Events


With just under 400 Cancer Research UK events to supply and service across the UK, Arena’s Mass Participation division begin their busy season in Warrington this May, in a summer which sees up to 36 races on any one weekend.

Led by Managing Director of the division, Steve Shaw, the team, who were recently shortlisted for Best Operations Team at the upcoming Sports Business Awards, have nearly 100 years of experience working on mass participation events between them. Steve’s experience of working alongside Cancer Research UK (CRUK) started back in 1998, when he began supplying for their Race for Life series. Since then CRUK has diversified and increased the numbers of events it runs, with one of the more recent additions being the Pretty Muddy series. These all female, 5km or 10km muddy courses, include obstacles for the runners to overcome.

Arena’s Steve Shaw, explains: “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with CRUK and always enjoy the fast paced summers that present the kind of logistical challenges my team and I thrive on. When CRUK talked to us about the Pretty Muddy series we were sure we could not only provide the usual infrastructure – such as start and finish gantries, barriers, stages, market stalls, photography areas, branding and signage – but also that we had the capabilities to design and deliver the obstacles too.”

“Each year we seek to offer new creative ideas to the CRUK team in regards to the obstacles. Considering the finely balanced need for safe and compliant obstacles, whilst also providing challenge and fun for participants is central. So far more than 600,000 women have taken part in a Pretty Muddy event and this year we will supply our obstacle portfolio to over 70 events.”


Nick Wright, Cancer Research UK’s Equipment & Suppliers Manager explains: “We can’t wait for another summer of successful fundraising via our series of events and in particularly look forward to seeing the new Pretty Muddy obstacle course in action, having worked closely alongside Arena to develop a refreshed course for 2018. We are delighted to have the Arena as one of our major suppliers of event infrastructure. Their crews across the UK supply hundreds of our events each year and go over and above to help us put on the best events possible. We see the mass participation team very much as an extension to our Events Team which is the best accolade I can bestow upon them.”

Reflecting on this work, Arena UK & Europe commercial director, James Anderson, says: “Being able to provide this turnkey service for CRUK is a real source of pride for Arena. Beyond CRUK we’ve also demonstrated our ability to provide solutions for many other mass participation events with the likes of the London Marathon, Blenheim Palace, British Heart Foundation and British Military Fitness. It’s fundamentally what the Arena team are passionate about.”

The Race for Life series began twenty five years ago and 680 women took part at the first event in Battersea Park. Since then, over 8 million people have taken part in CRUK’s mass participation events and over £547 million has been raised for the charity.

Paul Allott is a director and co-founder of Event Industry News, Event Tech Live and the Event Technology Awards.