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I received this email from a race director about a 2 & 5 mile race that they want certified.
Jim – We decided to keep the 2 mile at 5th, and just move the start up a little making it a little bit shorter than the 2 mile. We need to do that to fit them all in without running into the finish line.
Our past course recently has been just shy of 2.0, and we decided they would feel better about themselves a little “faster” than slower. Plus our sound equipment, etc is set up closer to Maple, and we won’t have to change that.
So…you don’t have to go to 6th…..
Just to Glenwood for the 5….
Thanks so much,

My question is do I measure the course ( and get paid) and if the race director makes the course short not worry about it?
I feel that probably 99.9% of the people do not look at the certified maps to check out where the race starts and ends
they just trust the race director that the distance will be correct. So all these people think they have run a 2 mile
course. I think it is misleading if you do not tell the people ahead of time that it is short. If you are a 6:00 minute
per mile pace and they move the course and make it 60 feet short that is 4 seconds faster than what they should have ran.
Granted it is only 4 seconds but as a runner I want the truth in distance and time not so to say stroke my ego that I set a PR
when really I didn't.
I also think my reputation as a course measurer is on the line. As it is most runners in this area think when I measure a course it is a little long
but I only follow the guidelines set by USATF and ride shortest possible routes. (Will save GPS for another day).
I guess in other words I sort of feel like I should police the races so that they are set up just like I rode the course and should tell the race director if they are
not and when I do run the race if I see something is wrong I will tell the race director about it (but I cannot be at every race). If they continually
run a short course even though they are using a certified course and advertising it as such can we take the certification number away from them?
I hope I have explained myself and everyone can understand what I mean.
Original Post
The late Ben Buckner was my measurement mentor in the early 1970’s. I discovered him on my lunch hour runs, and soon found that he and I had similar views on course accuracy. In 1980 he wrote a short booklet entitled “Planning Road Races for the Competitive Runner.” It was not designed for elite runners alone – he regarded any runner who was trying to achieve his or her best as competitive. His book may be downloaded at:

Although technology has improved since 1980, Ben’s book remains worth reading.

In his text Ben listed three “unforgiveables” relating to race conduct. They dealt with course accuracy, timing, and route control

"The First Unforgiveable

Unless they are very small, inaccuracies cannot be hidden. Every experienced runner will detect them through pacing and final times. Runners can become very upset when inaccuracies are discovered. Do not neglect this aspect for their sake as well as your own. The race organizer may get by with faulty planning of many aspects of a race, but distance inaccuracy is one of the unforgiveable blunders which is certain to be discovered."

I ran my first marathon in 1974. It was my second road race, and my training told me that I could probably hold an 8 minute pace per mile, with a sub-3:30 finish. When I reached a point I knew was about a mile and a half from the finish I was on schedule, but people were shouting “looking good – just three miles to go.” Aha, thinks I, what do they know. It turned out they were right. I finished in 3:35 and wondered what happened.

A detailed session with USGS topo maps revealed that they were right. The course was at least a mile too long. I was very disappointed. I wrote to the organizer and received no answer. At a higher level, an Olympic marathon hopeful missed the qualifying cutoff by two minutes.

Without apology I believe that anyone who deliberately shortens a certified course is lying to the runners and deserves to be found out. Sometimes this happens, sometimes not.

This said, I don't think RRTC should attempt to become the "Race Police" in this matter. It would be nice if we could do it, but considering all the races that have been certified, it would be a heavy burden if we had to check all races for adherence to course setup.
Last edited by peteriegel

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