One of the bad dreams that keep race directors awake happened to the Middle Half on Saturday. Never mind that this was the 5th year for this race. Awesome technical long sleeve shirt to those runners who have run all 5 years. How many races do that? This race has been a first class event from the very first year. Somehow, a interesection was blocked wrong. Most of the field ran an extra half mile.
The local running forum board started the "discussion" within hours of the finish. This the take I find spot on:
Edward. "Yes, the course was long due to an error in parking a police car. Life happens. Yes, I am certain that the race director is beside herself. 2,250 racers really wanted a certified course to actually be followed by those to whom they rely on being directed. We can anticipate a better-followed directive next year. Any runner who has raced more than once understands that "things" happen. Runners deal with those things. Clearly, paying for an accurate course is part of the entry fee, especially at a much-anticipated event like the Middle Half. So, is running through the 'Boro with police support, water support, crowd support (especially the little ones who did not grow tired of being high and low-fived).
Merely a suggestion: consider that we now have a new PR for 13.6 miles run on a beautiful October morning, amidst a multitude of happy campers.
Or, you could be miserable like me and blame the extra length on why I couldn't stay with, catch up to, or even see, runners who had a much better day dealing with the extra length than I did. Not that I am bitter. As my father would have said, quit your bitching, tie your shoes, go run and just get over it. Oh, and wear this year's shirt, because NO ONE is going to miss seeing you in that. lol 364 days to go to Middle Half #6 (leap year, don't ya know)"
Most runners eventually think along similar lines. I did see some runners visibly upset when they finished. I was wondering the same thing for the first few runners coming in a few minutes later than I expected. Hopefully most will be glad for great weather and accept the time for the unique distance.
About the only thing they can do at this point is damage control. They've acknowledged the error on the website. It would be nice to have a new column on the final result to give an "equivilant" half marathon time. That's the math most of the runners are doing in their head. Non-runners don't get that part.
In hindsight, I don't really see how it could have come out differently. A race of this size has the course being the responsibililty of the local police. Even though the lead vehicle,a police car, may have wondered why they weren't following the course. They wouldn't have questioned it because it was a closed course. What are they going to do? Stop the race and question the officer blocking that intersection? Hey dude/dudette you should be blocking east/west traffic not north/south.
I could see where the course should be patrolled before the start to make sure everyone is in place and appriopriate intersections are blocked. Then again, lots of the cross roads don't get blocked until right before the start.