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Bob Thurston wrote the following, which I posted on MNF. I'm reposting it here, w/ my reply, because I think it might be a really useful project.


I have a question for folks to consider: what words, if any, will fit on and be effective on the back of a measuring vest? I remember seeing something years ago in Measurement News. Obviously the shorter the better because the letters can be large. But I don't want something so cryptic that I'll get rear-ended by people racking their brains to figure out what that means (like some licence plates!).
Anyway, my brother came up with "Don't curse the course official". Any other ideas?

Bob Thurston

I'll work on that one a bit, Doug. It would be good to have something on the front, too. I get cursed out by other cyclists way more than motorists - "wrong side of the road, idiot!" I think drivers don't think about which side of the road cyclists should ride on (in fact they're probably used to seeing them on both) but most cyclists sure are.

If we come up with a good slogan, I think I have a source for inexpensive safety yellow vests, and would be willing to silkscreen them for anyone who wants one. This might be a really useful project.

Jim Gerweck
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I spoke with a representative from the Leslie Jordan company at the Road Race Management meeting in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend. In the course of our discussion I learned she is having a batch of vests made for a triathlon group that will have multiple front & rear pockets. Theirs will be a dark grey, but she said it is easy enough to batch cut and sew from a bolt of fabric of another color.

I asked if it would be possible to get these in a bright neon yellow (I saw some from this company several years ago), and she replied it would be no problem.

The estimated cost for these would be around $25, but could be less if the quantity approached 50 (she could then source them to an offshore manufacturer. The material would be a nylon supplex. I would be willing to silkscreen "COURSE MEASURER" or similar across the back for no charge.

What I need to do now is find out how many measurers would be interested in purchasing one. I'd need to get her an order by the end of the year.

If you think you'd like to order one, please email me at
Last edited by jimgerweck
While I understand and appreciate the desire to communicate with others (I was honked at, flipped-off, and yelled at on a Marathon course this weekend), I haven't figured out a way for drivers or riders to see a sign.

On the front, I am hunched on my handlebars, so nothing can be read. On the back, I wear a backpack with supplies, so that is not visible.

I think we just have to accept that people think we are morons, and get on with life. For the few who try to run me off the road because I am "going the wrong direction", I just watch for them and bail as needed. I care what some people think of me, but for people who I never meet, and they don't know my name, who cares?

I wear neon green all the time, so at least they see me.

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to advise you that the IAAF has produced reflective safety vests for all official IAAF/AIMS measurers. These have now been received at IAAF headquarters and will be despatched to all IAAF/AIMS certified A and B Measurers during the course of next week. The vests are ‘one size’ in fluo yellow with reflective bands, with the IAAF and AIMS logos on the front and OFFICIAL MEASURER on the back of the vest and are designed to increase your safety and recognition of your important role in road running. Please allow 2-3 weeks for shipping depending on your location.

Wishing you all good health, happiness and success in 2008!

Sean Wallace-Jones
Road Running Coordinator
IAAF Monaco

I assume all state certifiers and FS will receive one. Good news, as the woman from the production company I was dealing with just informed me they are have trouble finding the correct fabric. I'll keep trying on that front as well.
Good thought Duane. Of course, some of us ride mountain/hybrid bikes and sit a bit more upright - I guess there's no perfect solution.

I spoke w/ my contact at the Leslie Jordan yesterday. They have a good quantity of RED vests, 2 side pockets, reflective tape, lower half of mack mesh (so we couldn't print there) that they'll sell for $12. I figure w/ printing and shipping I could let them go for $15 (a nice round figure, too). They can also make up vests in solid fabric for about $10-15 more. I've asked them to send me a sample, to see how bright the red is, as well as a swatch of the neon yellow I had requested. I was told they can't get that color in the lightweight fabric, but maybe the heavier weight will work for our purposes - after all, we're not running in them. Stay tuned.
Got a reply from Leslie Jordan today, and they indeed have the neon yellow material in stock, in light and heavier weights (IMO the heavier is a bit nicer, and no more expensive). The cost for the vests will be approx. $25. Sizing seems to run pretty true (similar to what you'd wear in a T-shirt). I intend to place an order for 50-75 of them, and screenprint "OFFICIAL MEASURER" across the back and maybe the USATF logo RRTC on the beast. I'll look back at those who have expressed an interest in them previously; if you haven't, please drop me a line at
I think it is better to work with professional high visibility vests that already have the wide reflective stripes. We also use them on the road at night when doing things like laying cones.
I keep five in my car at all times, just so I can use them or stick them on a volunteer road marshal if needed. Mine came from the UK and are better than average.
They look similar to the ones used by the local police, so I have been addressed as 'officer' before.
I think it better to just ask your local t-shirt company to put the letters on a standard commercial vest, that already has the 3M reflective, instead of getting them made up custom. You can get an ANSI class 2 high visibility vest on ebay for about $25 including shipping.
I've now been looking for the perfect solution to the backpack/vest conundrum. I have an IAAF vest, but last year I ordered a surveyor's vest from Ben Meadows that seems to work great. I don't have anything printed on it, but there is good visibility with this vest. There are numerous pockets that can hold my pens, calculator, cell phone, nails, tape, washers, hammer, steel tape, recording pad, thermometers, whistle, compass, headlamp, gloves if needed, and bike repair kit. I can put the things I need to access regularly in the front pockets and the heavy stuff in the oversized back pocket. My calculator and cell phone go on inside pockets of the vest. I've been less likely to drop stuff on the ground for restuffing into a backpack, only to lose it or forget it. I have it in the lime green color, but there is reflective orange and grey tape sewn on. It is canvas, but it does have mesh under the arms. There is the Hi-Viz 600D Surveryor's vest, and a 10-Pocket Convenience, Class 2 Compliance Safety Vest. Either will hold many items.

I had been looking for a backpack that was high visibility with reflective tape. I wonder why there aren't any. They would be great for hikers that get lost or are hiking during hunting season. I would love to have my second rider wearing a High Visibility backpack to hold water, paint, and a measuring wheel.
I had been looking for a backpack that was high visibility with reflective tape. I wonder why there aren't any. They would be great for hikers that get lost or are hiking during hunting season. I would love to have my second rider wearing a High Visibility backpack to hold water, paint, and a measuring wheel.

I wear a neon yellow cycling jersey with rear pockets and/or a neon yellow cycling windbreaker. However, when I want to also wear a backpack it covers everything up. I have been looking for a neon yellow backpack for several years but have had no luck. One would think that they would be available for school children to make them more visible to traffic.
I am wondering whether Jim or anyone is interested in revisiting the measurer's vest project? I love the reflective vest I got as an IAAF measurer, and I use it always when I'm measuring. But I am also still using my old orange vest (anyone remember those?) that someone got for us back in something like 1984, it has a TAC logo on it; it's great for holding a notebook, calculator, and maybe a course map or something.

But my old vest is REALLY falling apart and is mostly held together with duct tape and safety pins!

I saw a fellow from a construction site today who seemed to have a great vest for our purposes, bright orange and lots of pockets-- the fabric was a bit heavy but he said the company where they get these also makes one with a lot of mesh. But the cost was steep, he thought around $150.

Thoughts anyone?
To continue this monologue:
I ordered one of the vests I was looking at and it has arrived. Still seems pretty neat to me, it's fairly light and bright and it has a lot of pockets. I ordered a medium size and it looks like I could still wear a lot of warm layers underneath it.
I'm trying to work out words that won't be too long for putting on the back and I think something on the front too. (In back there are 9" of horizontal space between the two reflective stripes.)
I'm thinking about "USATF SURVEY TEAM" on 3 lines-- or something of the sort. Words like OFFICIAL or MEASURER seem a little long for this.
Welcome any suggestions.
Bob, I've ordered a medium vest from them as well. When it gets here I will make a screen and print USATF/RRTC logo on the breast, and large words on the back. If you send me yours I'll print both at the same time.
Mark Neal, what does the back of the vest you got from Dave Katz in Daytona Beach say?
Assuming people like these, I can order in quantity to obtain free shipping and will print and mail to anyone who orders one at cost (would probably be less than $15). The smallest size is Medium so I'm afraid some of or smaller female measurers may be left out.
I have a pack that has reflective piping on it, and I wear a lime-green jersey or jacket, depending on the weather. If I remove my jacket, I put it on the back of my pack, so I have plenty of visibility.

I would love to be able to prominently display "Measuring" both front and back, but I have yet to find anything that will allow that, that is convenient and legible while riding. Just the setup I use, but others do their measurements differently, so the vests may work quite well for them.
I should have photos of a vest that will be offered to measurers shortly. Bob Thurston and I each purchased one and I will print front & back and post photos. Price should be around $20. We'll give everyone a week or so to order, then I will place the order in bulk to save shipping costs from the manufacturer, will print and mail individual orders out. Stay tuned, and thanks to Bob for finding a reasonably-priced high quality vest.
I tried a "COURSE MEASUREMENT" sign on the handlebar of my bike with moderate sucess for several years.
About a year ago I came across a yellow, reflective, LED lighted safety vest.
The LED can be ON steady or FLASH.
I use FLASH mode and no longer get yelled at, flipped off, nearly hit by pissed off drivers.
The vest doesn't have room for adding any script but it makes me look official. I can ride down the center of busy streets, against traffic, and even along bike paths without upsetting runners, motorists, police, etc.
The vests are available from several sellers on EBay for less than $20.00.
It would be ice to have a USATF logo or COURSE MEASUREMENT printed but it is GREAT measuring safely without being an annoyance.
OK this is just a cheerleader comment, let's keep this search for a great vest up! I just patched up my old vest from the 80's with duct tape for the 4th or 5th time and it is now getting to where duct tape will become the primary fabric in the thing!
I love Mike's lighted vest idea. (Does it have pockets Mike?) I just saw a vest advertised for runners that had some led lights but maybe some room for a logo. I doubt if it had pockets. I think we need a clothing designer, tailor, or seamstress so we can adapt something that's almost right.
And I just read a comment by a biker who stated that whenever he pulls a trailer behind his bike nobody gives him grief. (Maybe he means one that looks like it has little kids, I'm not sure!).
So a lighted vest with convenient pockets, not too heavy, comes in various sizes, possibly to be used by measurer pulling a trailer-- is that a lot to ask?
My vest doesn't have pockets.
It fits loose enough that I can get into the back pocket of a bike shirt or a fanny pack handily.
I agree the best option would have a large pocket and room for a Race Course Measurement logo.
Last week I put the sign back on my bike and was surprised at how people waved as they made room for me to measure. even got a few people asking about which course I was working on.
Vests and signs are available now.
David Harriman redesigned and produced the sign to read "OFFICIAL RACE COURSE MEASUREMENT"
Signs are lightweight & waterproof. They work on handlebars or on the back of safety vest.
don't know if the pics show but the links should go direct to photos
I cut enough vinyl last night (6-Oct-2013) to make 10 sets. The signs will fit into a large clasp envelope. I have not weighed them to see what the exact shipping cost will be but I suspect it’s around $3.00. A set of signs are $5.00 + 3.00(ish) makes about $8.00. I will have a supply at convention available (no shipping.) I have enough substrate to make 80 signs and I have enough vinyl to cut 90 more signs. I can get more material in a few days.
Folks, just wait til you see the lights on these babies! You'll think you're part of a psychedelic rock concert from the 70's maybe. I will be using the vest on Sunday, but I'm still debating whether I dare turn those lights on when I'm in a normally staid and quiet suburban neighborhood!

Seriously this vest is very promising. No pockets but if you can handle that . . . I will report after I've had a go with it and the signs.
I've used my vest twice now, and both were great experiences. I measured a 5K/10K in Vienna, Virginia and I've never seen people (including drivers!) act so politely and helpfully. Besides, folks seem to appreciate understanding what I am doing: "Oh now I get it", and other similar remarks. A woman asked me if I was the person whose initials were on all the course maps-- she felt like she met a celebrity. (I am still hoping she will get in touch and learn to measure courses.)

I was also asked to monitor a course I had measured for the USATF 12K in Alexandria. For that one I printed out "MONITOR" and taped that word over "Measurement". I guess I didn't want runners to think the course was just now being measured!

I will try to share some pictures:

If that doesn't work I'm sure I'll hear about it!

A few comments: the sign was attached to the back of the vest with little brass fasteners. Since then I've replaced those with wire twist-ties designed for closing plastic bags, and I think that's a little more durable. Still I don't think it's a great idea to wear the vest while driving your car, seems like that's just asking for something to get loose or crushed, etc. Something else to think about: since the vest doesn't have pockets you still need somewhere to put stuff like calculator, notebook, map, unless you mount all of that on your handlebars. So I'm still using my vest from the 1980's which by now sports a high proportion of duct tape!

I wish everyone safe riding in the new year!
Last edited by bobthurston

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