Friday, January 28, 2011

More Race Awards (the Not-So-Good Ones)

Yesterday I posted "awards" for races that I had run. They were the positive awards. Today's post is also an awards ceremony of sorts, only these are the ones that are not so good.

1. Amateur Hour: The 2003 Hohenfels Box Run 10K was the most amateurish race that I have run. Even though I was part of the race committee, I did my best to disassociate myself from it. Just about everyone else on the committee was a non-runner, and it showed. All of my suggestions were vetoed. But on to the actual race...On the course there was some confusion about which way to turn because the turns weren't clearly marked. I followed the runners in front of me and hoped that they made the correct turns. There were no computers, or even a person with a clipboard at the finish line, to record race numbers as the runners finished. Each racer was given a popsicle stick with a number on it which corresponded to their overall place in the race. The team competition wasn't decided by the times of the 5 best runners on the team, like in any other race. It was decided by adding up the numbers on the popsicle sticks. The team with the lowest total was the winner of the team competition. At the awards ceremony only one woman over 40 was given an award (the top 3 in each age group were supposed to receive awards), even though there were at least 4 women over 40 in the race. The organizers didn't figure on any teens being in the race and didn't have any awards for them. Someone managed to scrounge up a trophy for the winning teenager, which said, "1st place men 70+." I guess if that kid is still running in his 70s, he'll have a race trophy.

2. Water, water everywhere (except on the course): Most race organizers plan for the right amount of water on a course. There have only been a couple of races where there wasn't enough water. One was the 1993 Race of the Champions Half-Marathon in San Diego. It was the first, and last, time that that race was run. There was enough water for all at the first water point. But after that there was nothing for those who were midpack or back of the pack runners. Fortunately, there were a lot of nice homeowners who let the runners drink from their garden hoses. The 1996 Munich Marathon organizers also missed on providing enough water at the later water points.

3. Ho-hum: Most organizers plan a fairly scenic course because they want to attract more runners to their races. Most of the races that I have run have nice scenery that takes my mind off of my tired legs. But the 1989 Rancho Penasquitos Town Center 5K was not one of those. It started and finished in a big strip mall. The course was an out-and-back on a main suburban street with more strip malls and some houses. The Amberg Half-Marathon course is nice, but monotonous. Runners must do the same loop 3 1/2 times before finishing on the track of a sports complex.

4. Go Before You Go: If you run a race in Germany, don't count on having any Porta Potties on the course. Make sure you "take care of business" before the race. When I raced in San Diego, all of the long races had Porta Potties. I never needed one; but it was nice to know that they were there just in case. It surprised me when I ran the 1993 Munich Marathon and didn't see a single Porta Potty along the course. At the start area of the 2010 Munich Half-Marathon (the companion run to the marathon) there weren't enough toilets or Porta Potties. A lot of women, myself included, ended up using some nearby bushes before the race.

5. Unequal Spacing: The Muenchener Stadtlauf (Munich City Run) is one of my favorite half-marathons, mainly because I love running through the English Garden and finishing on the Marienplatz. However, the water points have some odd spacing. The first one is at the 5 km mark, which is standard in a German half-marathon. The second one isn't until the 13 km mark. The 3rd and 4th ones are at 17 and 19 km. The weather is often warm in late June, when the Stadtlauf is held. Eight kilometers (about 5 miles) is a long way to go between water points, especially in a warm weather half-marathon. After the first time I ran the Stadtlauf, I learned to carry a drink with me.

6. Ugly T-Shirt Contest: The ugliest race t-shirt was the one for the 2007 Munich Marathon. It was black and grey, which was bad enough. But the pattern on the shirt was downright ugly. If you wanted a shirt, you had to pay 30 euro for it. You couldn't have paid me 30 million euro to wear that shirt. Needless to say, I didn't buy one. Honorable mention goes to the shirt for the 2010 Muenchener Stadtlauf. Every year the Stadtlauf runners receive a free technical t-shirt, which they must wear in the race instead of a number. It's orange and changes slightly every year. Last year there were black stripes on the sleeves, which seemed out of place with the rest of the orange and white shirt. I liked the Stadtlauf shirts from 2007 and 2008.

7. German Inefficiency: On a word association test, the word "efficiency" generally follows "German." Not so at the 2010 Muenchener Stadtlauf. In previous years, there was one line/stop for race day check-in. It was quick and easy. Last year the organizers changed the check-in procedure and made it more cumbersome. I had to stand in one line to check in and get my t-shirt claim check. Then I had to stand in another line to get my t-shirt. It took close to 30 minutes to check in instead of 5 with the old procedure. The organizers really need to go back to the old, efficient check-in procedure.

8. Where the Heck is Parsberg, Germany, California? The award for the most geographically challenged race organizers goes to the 1993 Race of the Champions Half-Marathon. Each racer was photographed during the race and proofs were mailed to them afterward. Remember, this was in the days before digital photography and online ordering. I put my German street address in Parsberg on the entry form. When I finally received the envelope with the proofs, about 3 months after the ordering deadline, it was addressed to me in Parsberg, Germany, California. Parsberg's postal code of 92331 could theoretically be one in southern California. The people who sent out the photo proofs must have thought that Parsberg, Germany was a city in California based on its postal code. Finally, someone wrote, "Try Federal Republic of Germany" on the envelope and it got to its correct destination. I would have thought that the word "Germany" would have been a good clue that Parsberg was not in California. I guess it wasn't.

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