Friday, November 25, 2011

A Quick Thought On Race Logistics and Contest Results

You're running the last miles of your 10k, marathon, half marathon, etc. and suddenly you run into (literally, sometimes) a gridlock as you merge with other runners running another race. This has happened to me several times this past year and I have to wonder if there isn't some reasonable solution.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I ran the Anthem Turkey Day 10k in Broomfield, Co. The race was well run, and the course was open and tough. But about a mile and a half from the finish the 10k runners and the 5k runners merged together for the rest of the race. I was running around a 7 min pace at that point and that put all the 10k runners in with the 8-9 min pace 5k runners (that's how the times worked out for the two races joining). As you can imagine, this led to a bobbing-and-weaving finish for the 10k runners who were obviously running at a faster pace then the 5k runners. Luckily, we were on a pretty wide road so it was manageable, though still difficult to focus on running instead of navigating. I've run several races on bike paths where you are forced to run through tall grass and weeds to get around slower walkers completing different races (eg. Eerie Erie, Colorado Marathon, Boulder Marathon).

The question is: Does this make sense? I realize that I am not a race director and I can't possibly have any idea how difficult it is to coordinate these things, but as a runner I can attest to the difficulty of navigating around families running 4 abreast, baby joggers (and I've run with one lots) and those out for a beautiful day fitness walk. I'm not complaining about their reasons for being out there (though it would be considerate for walker to give runners some room to pass) and I'm happy to see everyone out doing their thing -  But the fact is that runners and walkers and joggers often don't mix well on the same course.

A classic example is the Boulder Marathon. This event offers a full marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, and 10k. All the races are run on parts of the same course. When I ran this marathon in 2009 the last few miles were clogged up with half marathoners, most of whom were walking - that year the half marathon was started an hour after the full. So those running the full inevitably arrived at the last four or five shared miles with the slower half marathoners. Even with a wide road, I was forced to weave around groups of half marathoners. The mix just didn't work and it's no fun to be constantly saying "on your left" for the last four miles of a marathon.  

Back when I started racing, in the 1980s, most races offered one option - it was a 10k or 5k or half marathon or marathon event - Not all at once. Today races offer us a menu of options, and that's nice, but with that menu we are forced to deal with logistical challenges. How do you manage two, three, or four separate races run on pretty much the same course and at pretty much the same time? My experience is that it's not working so well for the runners - at least not the runners who are interested in racing (regardless of what pace 'racing' may mean for them).

What do you think? Am I the only runner out there dealing with this?

Hmmm. Next post on running/racing etiquette?????????????????

Chronic Runner T-shirt Contest:

I really want to give everyone a T-shirt!! I wish I could, but alas, I am just a poor teacher :( So I put everyone's name into a running shoe box (seemed appropriate and I have lots of them;) and a name was drawn.

And I have a winner! {lifeasa}RunningMom  

For all of my followers and readers, I want to thank you for reading and commenting and supporting this exercise, this discussion, this process.

"You just want somebody listening to what you say. It doesn't matter who you are..."
...This is for you.



  1. Love this song -- I tend to blast it in the car, which doesn't take much doing in a Toyota Yaris.

    I've just been running 1.5 years. I get "hung up" with walkers (4 abreast), or chatting joggers. I've been on some runs where they just can't shut down a public trail so there are bikers (but they've been very courteous, even dismounting and walking far to the side). In post-race suggestions by organizers I've often asked that walkers for any distance start last and at the back of the pack.

  2. I have also had issues on races concerning walkers or even slower runners. It has happened quite a few times to me at the start or ends of races. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing people out moving, but it does make it difficult for those of us, who are running for a time. I agree with Ken above. If you are walking, I do wish that you would start in the back of the race.


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