Monday, April 16, 2012

Cary Road Race 10k: Disappointment of a Course Miscalculation

I am still very new to running and racing in many ways, but sometimes I forget that I have only been running since June of 2010. Because after having run 33 race in less than two years, I have experienced a lot of both good and bad on race day: side stitches -yep, unexpected PR's -yep, inexplicably wretched runs -yep, rain, heat, wind, cold, humidity -yep, malfunctioning timing equipment -yep, malfunctioning - Garmin -yep.  Now, that is not to say I've seen it all.  I haven't, nor do I want to make such a claim.  My point is that as you run more races, you understand that pulling off a perfect race for both the organizers and the runners is really an amazing accomplishment.  As a runner, I am aware of the huge amount of effort to race organizers put into a race.  And, I hope that the understand how much time and effort runners put into attending their race.  As a runner, I can forgive just about any unforeseen problems that might arise on race day, with the exceptions of  course miscalculations.  The first time, I ran a race where the course was short, it was part of an event that was incredibly disorganized and was the culmination of a really lack luster effort on the part of the race organizers.  I was not expecting course problems from The Cary Road Race because it is an event that has been run for nearly 34 years, and take place on a course that is defined by it setting on greenway going around a large pond.  The race make use of two public streets, which are clearly marked for the race.

However, as I was running in the 10k on Saturday I noticed after the second mile of the race that my Garmin was off by nearly two tenths of a mile from the course markers.  The first turnaround had not been as clearly marked as it was last year, and there did not seem to be anyone directing runner which side of the road to run on.  Even though the course markings were off, I continued to run hard hoping that my Garmin was just off, which often happens in races do to running tangents, but two tenths of a mile is a lot to be off in the first 3 miles of a race, but I hoped against hope that Old Bob had just flaked on me because I was having a banner race.  After the three mile mark we run the course again and as we were heading to the turnaround again, I was fighting off a cramp/side stitch while climbing a hill, so it took me a while to notice that a cone had been set up, and the turn around had been moved back about a tenth of a mile to where the ground had been clearly painted 10k turnaround.  My fear that the course was short had been confirmed, but I was having a great race.  Even at the right distance, I would have shattered my 10k PR, so I decided to run hard and stay in control of the only thing I had control over at this point, myself and how I ran.  I ended up running strong and finishing the race over 4 minutes and nearly two tenths of a mile under my 10K PR.

A while back when this happened to me at the Free to Breath 5k, my frustrations boiled over because it was a culmination of series of lapses on the part of the race organizers of the event, but this time I just felt disappointment because I had run a good race and had been looking forward to breaking my 10K PR and not setting a new standard for my six miler.  But, I am learning quickly from these races that I can only control myself and how I run, and sometimes not even those things are really under much control.  I still have a hard time forgiving course errors and will most likely not run this race again, but rather than get overly frustrated by the error, I was able to move past it and take some pride in knowing that I still ran really well.


  1. That really sucks. The one thing you expect from a road race is for the course to be right.
    The same thing happened to me 2 years ago at a smaller 10K. It was an out and back, and when I got to the turn around the time was way too good to be true. I would have had a PR, but the course was like 6.00 miles.

    1. Yeah, it make me nuts when the course is off. That is the simplest thing to control.

  2. Ugh that is the worst, especially when a PR is at stake! I saw your tweets tonight, as I was out of town over the weekend, sorry buddy!!!! :(