I just ran the Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville. It's a nice race, great support from the community, interesting course, actually better than interesting it is a superior course highlighted by a dash through the infield of Churchill Downs the weekend before the Derby. It's a beautiful time to be there too. I would highly recommend the race except for two faults which I want to discuss here. My audience is not the people that commit these faults, they don't know anything about marathonguide.com, so I aim this and my solutions at race directors and fellow runners.
Fault one. As runners we all know this one, you get assigned corral B because you say you're going to run a 3:25. You expect people in corral A are faster and in corrals C thru G the runners/walkers are slower. Yet for the first two or three miles you have to wade through and dodge the 10 minute milers and you have to ask yourself what are they doing here? How did they get ahead of me?
Solution one. Whereas I applaud and appreciate the effort the RD went to by assigning runners a corral based on expected finish times, this obviously wasn't and maybe can't be strictly enforced, and I can't blame the RD for the knuckleheads that line up at the front. Is there a way to electronically enforce this? Can you set the starting mat to only detect chip number ranges - then send each corral through as a wave. First set it to 0 - 1000 and let corral A through. Stop. Reset the mat number range to include the next corral, 0 - 2000, stop, then 0 - 3000 and so on. You can move back but if you're in the wrong forward corral your chip doesn't get recorded. Maybe just the threat of that shouted over the bullhorn would get people in the right place. Look at your bib. If you are not in the right corral your time will not be recorded. Works for me.
Fault two. It's mile nine, the half marathoners have split from the marathoners. The pack thins out and you now run freely for miles unbeknownst to the horror that lies ahead. At mile 17 the half marathoners, at their mile 10, merge back in. And they are walking. They are collectively doing a good imitation of a St Patrick's Day parade three miles long, walking four abreast across the roadway and you are now back to wading through and dodging walkers. I crashed into one wandering walker that was guilty of texting while half marathon walking. It's just absurd to do this to a serious runner competing against the clock.
Solution two: Don't ever, ever, ever, mix walkers back into marathoners, ever.
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