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The race director was remiss in not getting the course prevalidated when an important record was obviously anticipated. This would have avoided the current scramble in getting it validated. When measurers get an assignment to measure a course for an important race, they should encourage the race director to get prevalidation done at the same time.
Before sounding the call to get everybody prevalidated consider:

1) Most prevals are a waste of time and money, as record times are few.
2) 90 percent of courses pass the regular validation. 99 percent if measured by an experienced expert.
3) I don't think we have the manpower to preval every course that might ask for it.

I don't think the race director was remiss at all. Tom McBrayer, a hugely competent measurer and certifier, measured the course, and the race director may have believed that the course would withstand scrutiny without the need for someone to check the work before the race.

Why should there be a "scramble" to validate this? Can't it wait until it fits into the year's normal validation schedule?
Last edited by peteriegel
I am only advocating prevalidations in those cases where records are likely. In the Houston Halfmarathon several large bonuses were offered for several types of records, and in my experience money is a powerful stimulant to record setting. The probability of a validation being necessary was therefore high and would have been much more easily done at the time of measurement.

I think I have a very suitable measurer to do the validation, but the validation is unlikely to take place soon. Three things will have to coincide: availability of a police escort (only on Sundays at 6 am), fair weather (there is heavy ice on the roads at the moment), and availability of the measurer (he is a bit sick at the moment).

Left to myself I would process the validation normally. (After all, the record cannot be ratified until next December.) However I am receiving a sense of urgency from several enthusiastic people. Perhaps they are eager to get confirmation of the first American performance under one hour.
Haste makes waste.

Validation of course length is only the last step in the validation of a record. First the timing must be checked, and the conduct of the race. The course must have followed the certified route. This checking has never been the job of RRTC. It is done by the records people. If they find everything OK they pass it on to RRTC.

I see no harm in fast-tracking this as long as the preliminary work is complete. I do see a danger in accepting a burden that we don't have the ability to carry, and that is to agree to prevalidate every race that has fast people in it.
The race director of the Houston races appeared on a teleconference with Ryan Hall Monday. I asked him if they had put timers and/or chip mats at any of the intermediate points (it was reported that Hall went through 15k and 10 miles under AR pace). He responded that they did not anticipate Hall running that fast. It turned out the be one of those "Perfect Storm" races; 6 of the top 9 men sets PRs, and the top 9 women all did.

I agree with Pete; knowing that Tom McBrayer measured my course would give me total confidence that it would withstand validation.
Validation of Houston’s Aramco Half-Marathon was done over this weekend. Bob Barnhill, longtime Houston measurer, took on that job for RRTC. The course passed muster and I’m sure Neville will have more to say after receiving Bob’s report. So Ryan Hall’s time of 59:43 will go into the record books when ratified. We’ve never had a open record in Houston and the course was not pre-validated. Rest assured, it will be next time — especially since race organizers are anticipating a number of runners will want to try Houston’s fast course.
Evidently, from a letter forwarded to me by Justin,I am one of the last to know that the course checks out fine! Far from having seen a report from Bob, I have not yet even received an assignment from Andy Carr to do the validation. In the future validators will be expected to take an oath of secrecy!
Bob Barnhill made an excellent report on his validation and his measurement was in good agreement with that of Tom McBrayer. As certified, the course was 0.062% long without the 0.1% SCPF. I have suggested that a U-turn be extended from 12 ft to 25 ft from a reference pole to create a prevalidated course with the full SCPF.
Bob found that the course was not actually run as certified, but a 0.49-km section was run on parallel roads. However, the course as run was still 0.035% long, so Ryan Hall’s record is likely to be ratified.
With respect to lengthening the half marathon course, my feeling is that, with this particular course, it should be done at the start line. There are two courses involved here, both the half and the full. They share the first 8+ miles of the course, i.e., to the turn-around of the half. If the half is “short,” the full is also.

Also, it’s been my feeling that any discrepancy in measuring came between the start and the 10 km because that’s what Bob’s numbers show.

And, last but not least, the marathon race director is thinking about changing the course again. So whatever is done will wait on the marathon board’s decision.
Originally posted by Pete Riegel:
Haste makes waste.

I see no harm in fast-tracking this as long as the preliminary work is complete.

Pete, not clear on what you mean by preliminary work. The preliminary work I know about is for the race to send the results to Andy Carr who reviews them & if he deems a validation is necessary (as would be the case w/the Houston half), he communicates such to Neville. This piece of protocol did not take place prior to Bob's validation of the Houston half & that ain't right.

We have a records & validation system. We & they should stick to the rules & roles and not let haste be our guides. Pressure came to bear this year to get a validation done...which is fine but it should not have been performed when it was.


I meant what you meant - that the process should have gone through Andy and thence to Neville, who should have overseen the validation.

The preliminary stuff is supposed to settle questions of timing and whether the course followed a certified course.

Using the shortcut in this case does not seem to have done harm, but when the preliminary work isn't done, and done right, the validator can waste his time, as when Mike Wickiser arrived all set to measure only to find that the race organization had shortened the race-day course 200 or 300 meters because they liked the new start location better.
Neville said: I am only advocating prevalidations in those cases where records are likely.

I cast my lot in with Pete Riegel on this Prevalidation issue. For a record, under the rules, if the validation is done as a prevaliation it must be done within the two weeks before a race. Therefore the prevaliation would have to be redone each year.

I think it is better to just wait until somebody posts a possible record time and then do the validation.

I suppose, for an elite runner, who is out to set a record, having a pre-validated course might be nice.

So add a box on the bottom of the entry, shirt $20, parking $5, prevaliation $500. If they think they are going to set a record, let them pay for a pre-validation. Personally I think most will risk it and wait till they set the record.

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