I’ve been running races on and off since high school. Which, considering that took place in another millennium, that adds up to a lot of racing. ALOT. Some were awesome (all the Disney races), some stunk, (I Care I Cure 5k), and some were someplace in between, (Race for Women’s Wellness Half Marathon). Each one a learning experience in it’s own right.
As I start looking at the calendar to pick my races for this year – and I’d like there to be more than the 1 or 2 I did last year, because, ya know……..LIFE – I get this feeling I may have set my requirements for races just a tad high. By all means, please weigh in here.
Now, I’m not talking I need to have Disney-level race insanity for every race – nice as that may be – but my wallet certainly couldn’t afford said insanity. But a few racer-friendly perks are always a good thing in my opinion. Here are my top requests in case any race directors happen to be paying attention:
Manned water stations and/or appropriately supplied: I did a 10k on New Year’s Eve 2017 along the beach in Boca Raton. The two minutes you could actually watch the sun rise over the ocean was lovely, but once you turned off into one of the local neighborhoods, the scene wasn’t so pretty. The one water station around Mile 4ish had one poor guy and his young son ferverishly trying to get water poured and out to the few hundred saps slogging by. A couple of miles through the neighborhood brought us back to the same water station, only to find it both unmanned and out of water. I was pretty much running in the middle of the pack, so I can only imagine how much worse it got for the runners behind me in the typical south Florida humidity that never seems to go away. Now I know how difficult it can be to find enough volunteers for events like this. However, this race has been taking place every year for the past 39 years. Yes, 39 YEARS. You think just maybe they might have stuff like this figured out by now, especially in the tropics?
Kids get their own race: Make no mistake, I am ALL about kids putting down their phones and getting outside to move. But if you’re doing everything you can to keep from running them over because they’re fully engaged in the “let’s sprint for 50 yards then come to a dead stop in front of some poor, unsuspecting sap whose brakes don’t work as well” mode, then the kiddies need to have their own kid moment of glory, if for no other reason than this poor unsuspecting sap’s knees can’t take emergency braking every 50 yards.
If you’re doing swag, do it right: One word. DriFit. I’ll pay an extra few bucks on the reg fees.
Use your outside voice: Let it rip at the start people. Especially for those saps like me who prefer to start at the back of the pack and haven’t had any mochaccinos before the start. We can’t hear you chatting it up with the serious speed queens in the front row when you suddenly drop a “oh, let’s get this race started shall we?” And pack up those obnoxious bullhorns. They don’t work either. Good option – put that local cheerleading squad to work. Megaphones aren’t just for football anymore.
Take that constructive criticism seriously: I can only imagine some of the ridiculous requests race directors see when they get their post-race surveys back. However, there may be one or two that are actually good ideas that don’t cost anything extra to incorporate into the race day planning. Like perhaps noting on the race website that drivers in the area ARE CRAZY AND DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE THEY’RE GOING SO FOR GAWD’S SAKE, KEEP YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.
No lady, I’m not sorry for scaring the crap out of you when I slammed a paw on the hood of your car as you looked right at me and hit the gas anyway.
All of the above noted requests, along with a few others (location, cost, registration fees, charity, etc) help me determine which races will hit my calendar in any given year. My question for you is this.
Am I being too picky in what I want/need/expect from a race?
In my immediate area, 5k’s are rampant, 10k’s practically non-existent, half marathons are not too bad, and full marathons seem to be everywhere. As I have yet to PR my half, I always have a few to choose from to maybe someday actually get it done. My hesitation mainly stems from most of them, while geographically desirable, are not always the most convenient to actually get to, requiring one of those classic Disney 3am wake up alarms in order to have enough time to get ready, travel, park, get to the start, and warm up. Plus, I know for logistical reasons, many in this area are held on Sundays. Having a Monday-Friday desk job, a Sunday half doesn’t always equate to feeling so well the next day when you’re stuck in a chair and can’t really keep loose to fight off the DOMS.
It’s a conundrum.
As 2019 brings me to yet another year of debating which races will hit my schedule, I can only say this. Every year I am eternally grateful that I have the ability and the resources to keep up with this crazy little hobby of mine. Like anyone, I like to get the most bang for my buck and that is true for each race I consider. Sometimes I wonder though.
Maybe I’d be better off just closing my eyes and pointing a finger? Seems to always work well in my wine cooler.
Enjoy the ride.
What helps you determine what races you will participate in? What are your race pet peeves? Have you ever responded to a race survey?