Race Directors to Back of Packers – Drop Dead

Runners World recently ran the article A Dispiriting Experience at the Back of the Pack, which pointed out experiences of back of the pack racers written from the perspective of a strong runner who was sick in a race.

I feel like I have discovered another point of pain just this week. A race that is run where I live, the Bay Days 8K posted on Facebook a link to race information and the schedule of events. I opened the link and saw that the race started at 8:30 AM and the awards ceremony was at 9:30 AM. This seemed odd to me.

With the race being an 8K, there were very likely going to be racers still on the course when the awards ceremony was held. Now going by last year’s numbers, there were 307 total finishers as shown on Athlinks.com. Of these, 65 finished in over an hour, or 21 percent. This number looks even worse if you consider that the awards ceremony is held nearby and it takes a few minutes to get there. So let’s look at how many came in later than 55 minutes — 107 or nearly 35 percent.

So, when the award ceremony is held, it is likely that over one third of all race participants will not have finished the race. There is something wrong with this picture.

I commented about it on the Facebook post and got the response, “Hi Eric! We are only recognizing the top 3 overall runners at the awards ceremony, and will be mailing out all other award winners. I hope this answers your question!”

I was speaking back and forth with Coach Meredith @FitNiceRunner on Twitter and she put it very well, “Definitely makes it feel like less of a ‘family’ and ‘community’ event.”

I called a friend of mine who is also running in the race, and she confirmed that it happens a lot to her. And it is terribly demotivating.

I really was shocked. I run most of my races with the local running club. And the awards ceremony is held after every racer is back. We start out together, and we celebrate together. It’s hardly a ceremony without all the participants.

The other races I have been in, don’t have a ceremony at all. They mail out the awards later and there is just a big post-race party. Either approach seems reasonable.

Have you or anyone you know been out on a course while the awards ceremony happens? If so, please comment or Tweet about it. I would love to hear back.

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Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.
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