The basic technical objectives of a race: running a measured distance in a defined time, is hardly rocket science, but the fundamental challenge for race organizers is to convince a mass of individual runners to follow an ordered process for entry, registration and results that has been defined by the available logistics, resources, marketing, and a budget.

We have all experienced the frustration, irritation and demoralization of poor race organization, but sometimes we need to look at how we, as runners, contribute to the chaos and mayhem that often invokes our ire and reaction.

Unfortunately as road runners we tend, especially at 05:00 on race morning, to prefer to follow Sinatra; doing things our way!

This is not always the way the race organizers had planned and allowed for. The resultant conflict of procedures can have significant impact on the event. In post race analysis race committees should be excused for thinking that their ‘Race would work perfectly well – if it wasn’t for runners!’

Each year experienced organizers close loop-holes, and oversights, in search of the holy-grail of perfect organization, and with each event, runners, (hopefully unwittingly), uncover new and innovative angles that disrupt the tightly budgeted balance of resources, and administration that underpins good race organization.

It’s not that runners intend to cause mayhem; it’s simply that their actions tend to be self orientated, and are undertaken without truly acknowledging the potential knock-on effects.

Placing my tongue firmly in my cheek, and without malice, I have compiled a few of the favoured ways that runners initiate and set up race organizers and officials for criticism and failure:

This limited, and somewhat cynical, selection, The Dirty Dozen, of runner race behavior can be spotted virtually every week in varying degrees. While most of these are initiated before the gun has been fired, their greatest impact is often felt on the route or after the finish line, with the blame laid at the feet of the organization or officials.

All race organizers know there is no such thing as a perfect race, there can always be improvements, (or its time to retire). There is no attempt here to defend poor organization, rather an appeal that, as participants, we consider if our actions are helping or detracting from the event in the way we enter, arrive and run the race.

Perhaps we should all run a mile in the organizer’s shoes!

Leave a Reply