Dirt trails brings up a second question, along with snaking paved roads in parks that have no curb. In theory they should be coned all the way down the inside of the curves. In practice we know the race directors just tell people to stay on the road.
Both conditions give a course that may be the correct lenth, but none of us would want it used for records.
We already have a system with two effective grades of certified course. Record eligible, or ineligible, because of altitude loss or Start, Finish separation, etc.
Its therefor strange that we only advertize one grade of certified. The certification number fails to tell the client or runner much about the quality of the course or record eligibility. Should there be two grades, A and B ?
The B should not be for bad measurements of length, but for quality of environmental conditions that affect the confidence in records set on the course. Grade A would be record eligible with curbed corners, run paved roads with all the other records eligibility requirements.
The second grade B, would be anything where the overall accuracy in length exceeds the standard for accuracy and repeatability, but the course it self, because of other environmental conditions, make the measurer or certifier less than confident that the course should be record eligible. For example poor surface conditions, off road trail, lack of defined curbs, ability for runners to short cut, or obvious inability to marshal or monitor course complacence.
I think measurer would be more comfortable being able to say to a RD that the overall measurement is on target but for this course I can only issue you a B level cert because .....
Most Race Directors understand that off road or dirt can be a problem and would be more happy to have a B level cert rather than nothing at all. They are often putting on a fun local event, or a training run. They want the course to be the right length with good splits but don’t expect any one to break any records.
I can think of several courses laid out in local parks that are exact in length, so long as the runner stays on tack. But the course winds around uncurbed corners or takes off on to foot paths.
Monitoring if a mid pack age group runner was really on the course, and not cutting corners is just about impossible. Maybe some of these should be considered as grade B courses because of the course environment.
The second problem is that Race Directors of local events are probably are not planning to have the timing systems in place that are required for a record to be validated. They would probably be relieved to know that no idiot is going to turn up and try to set a record at their event, when they have not planned for it. The B level course would warn people that it may contain off road or other issues.
I just did a cross country 5K. Put the counter on a mountin bike and callabrated on my 1/2 mile cert course. Did the course 3 times and all three counts were very close to dead on. The cross country runners were thrilled to run a 'real' 5K distance. I could never pull a cert on that course but the distance was right on, every turn defined by a natural barrier or obstical, and the results were repeatable.
Maybe this is a way for us to spread our measurement competence into other areas of the athlete universe. I have often done triathlons where the advertized distances were WAY off the mark. Where I am there are getting to be a lot of tri and du races. Should we get involved in measuring the bike and run segments of the events ?
How many people here have become involved in measuring un-certified events like off road races or triathlon courses, or doing certifcatons for just part of the event ?