The latest news about Potomac River Run Marathon
This year's Potomac River Run Marathon is on a new runner-friendly course on the C&O Canal Towpath from Carderock MD, with no street crossings and lots of lovely scenery. Please join us at www.mc-coop.org/marathon
I apologize for last year's problems at Potomac River Run Marathon on May 3.
At 6:30 AM, after 350 athletes started the race, National Park Service revoked our permit and took down our start and finish. Here's what happened.
I filed our permit application on May 5, 2008. I should have asked for a larger number on our permit application. I'm sorry that I made that error. Over the course of the year, when I asked the previous park ranger for our permit conditions, she told us to assume our permit condititions would be the same as previous years'. I asked every other week throughout the year for a meeting to discuss permit conditions.
Then, a month before the race, the original park ranger moved to a different assignment, and a new park ranger took, discovering a backlog of 20 unprocessed permits. The new park ranger told me that 20 races was way too many for Belle Haven Park, and that she intended to cut back the number and size of races there, including the 6,000-person Parkway Classic 10 Miler, which closes the entire 10 miles of the Parkway on the last Sunday in April.
The new park ranger finally met with us on April 24, 2009, six working days before the race, to tell us our conditions and to write our permit. She imposed six new conditions — five we were able to meet — increase our insurance, even though NPS received our insurance certificate in October 2008; write an emergency management plan for the first time; reserve parking for the public, although NPS rejected our plan to set aside parking for the public, so we arranged and paid for taxicabs from off-site parking to the race and back; have no more than 100 at the start line at any time, which we met by changing to an open go-as-you-please start, and have everybody done by 11 AM, unlike 1 PM in previous years, which we met by opening the start at 5:30 AM in the dark. The sixth condition — a numerical limitation for the first time ever — we were unable to meet, because by then, we already had more people signed up. Not meeting that condition cost us dearly.
For the first time ever, park rangers were at the race with clickers. Once we reached our permitted maximum at 6:30 AM, National Park Service revoked our permit, even though we had hundreds of runners already out on the trail. At the time they revoked our permit, park rangers counted 91 runners waiting to start. Then park rangers actually rolled up our starting line and finish line timing mats. They also confiscated timing tags, which they then destroyed.
Fortunately, our aid stations stayed up'n'running in the rain throughout the hours of the race and did a super job of supporting the runners. I'm glad they were there for you.
We moved the post-race celebration across the Parkway and distributed food, medals, and gift certificates to everyone who came across.
Now I am painstakingly reconstructing the results, finisher by finisher, so participants get credit for the times they ran, and I will mail medals and gift certificates to all who did not receive them on race day. I'm rebuilding the results, one by one, at www.acfcoop.org/20090503.html
I apologize to everyone for overbooking, and I assure you I will never do that again.