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The LaSalle Race has recently changed its courses. There was some discussion between the measurer, André, and race director, Mike, about keeping the course records from the old route and using them for the new one.

Here's an edited version of the exchanges and my response. I welcome your comments and suggestions.


“Please put on the site the record changes I requested. Those are the LaSalle records. Some were made on a different but accurate course, measured the circuit, by outstanding runners. It is important to respect these people.


“As soon as a new course is measured, old records are replaced by the new course records. You can not keep old records as official records.


“You're putting in question the accuracy of the LaSalle race history and the great runners who have competed over 27 years. I don't intend to throw that away.


“That is not the point, if you change a course for a new one, the old record does not hold anymore for it does not have the same course difficulties. History does not play for records and records are made to be broken or changed. Since its beginning, the Circuit has always scratched out all records when a new course was replacing an old course. It has happened at Ile-Bizard, Saint-Laurent for their new courses, Pierrefonds went they changed for Parc Nature, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, to name a few.


“There's no question that the historic records should be preserved, though André has a point that comparing different courses is akin to comparing apples and oranges. I can't comment on this event since I don't know how significant a change has been made. I suggest you take the approach of the Boston Marathon which recognizes the performances of many fine athletes over the years despite changing courses, standards and methods in course measurement.

The new and old courses are not listed as certified so the times are meaningless, nationally and internationally. I have recently been in contact with Gabriel Duguay, who had 130 courses certified through Athletics Canada. These files were destroyed and there no longer exists any record of the work he performed in the 70s and 80s; I don't know if the old course falls into that category.

As for the official status of any road running records, Athletics Canada does not recognize any distance other than the marathon for record purposes, although some provincial branches do.

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A few years ago, I remeasured our Forks XV 15 km course since the school parking lot had been completely reconfigured. The course started and finished on the school grounds and both the start and finish were routed through the parking lot. I changed the start and finish but did it in such a way that the mile and km marks were roughly in the same locations. When the race was over and the results sent out by our club e-mail person, she noted that this was a new record since the course was changed. Tom Carter, who had held the record since 1982, went through the roof. His point was that the course was basically the same. I agreed with him and asked the question to several people, some of whom are on this forum. The conclusion was that there were no hard and fast rules but it was a judgement question.

We decided to keep the old records.

Alan Jones
Courses do often change from year to year. Sometimes it is necessary to change a course route due to one of many possible reasons like road construction, avoiding traffic congestion, and maintaining runner safety. There are times when the aesthetics of a course route warrants a change. What all USATF and IAAF/AIMS Certified courses have in common is that they have been measured in accordance to a standard set of procedures using the calibrated bicycle method.

Granted when a course route is changed there may be more or less drop in elevation or head wind. There are some who will argue the differences in weather conditions on a particular day or the quality of competition. Yet, what remains constant is the measured distance. The measured distance truly establishes a meaningful standard for comparison and records to be established.

We can’t say without some doubt that the Carlsbad 5000 course is faster than the Syracuse Festival of Races 5 km course. Is the competition better? Does prize money play a part in faster performances? The differences in course routes, weather conditions, quality of competition, prize money awards, and the ongoing list of possible differences, does create an apples to oranges comparison. What we are left with to recognize course records is the distance, which remains invariable, give or take a few meters.

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