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Road Running Technical Council Minutes
USATF 2010 Annual Meeting – Virginia Beach, VA
RRTC Meeting – Saturday, December 4, 2010

Attending: Marlene Atwood, Bob Baumel, Andy Carr, Craig Chasse, John Elliott, Jim Estes, Jim Gerweck, Jim Gilmer, Irene Herman, Paul Hronjak, Lyman Jordan, David Katz, Justin Kuo, Carol McLatchie, Gene Newman, Jane Parks, Ron Pate, Rick Recker, Duane Russell, Phil Stewart, Bob Thurston, Steve Vaitones, Gary Westerfield.

The meeting was called to order at 10:06 by RRTC Chairperson Gene Newman. Gene introduced RRTC Officers, Certifiers and Measurers present at the meeting. (Note: Jim Gerweck, RRTC Vice Chair West, was sick but present.) Gene explained that this would be a low-key meeting because RRTC is a different kind of group than most USATF committees. Members of RRTC are appointed rather than elected, due to our technical function, and we don’t hold formal votes at our meetings.

Officer Reports: All Officer reports were collected in advance of the meeting and posted at as well as the Annual Meeting document library at so will not be repeated here. Following are some additional comments and discussion related to officers’ reports:

Paul Hronjak (RRTC Vice Chair East) urged us not to hold meetings in the middle of a race (referring to the Surf-n-Santa 10 miler held that morning, which made it difficult for some attendees to reach the Convention Center – meanwhile, RRTC Data Accuracy Officer Jane Parks ran in that race, finishing second in her age group).

In comments as Course Registrar, Gene Newman praised the work of Katie Landry in the USATF office, in helping him to get maps and course data posted on the USATF website. Measurers, Certifiers and others should check their posted course data, and notify Gene if they find any errors. There was discussion of the “U” status code, which should be used for courses that have become unusable due to physical changes. The old “D” (deleted) code did not specify the reason for deletion and is no longer being applied. Gene noted a recently discovered glitch in the course measurer search engine, which fails to distinguish between different measurers who have the same last name and same first initial (e.g., Jim Smith and John Smith), so all courses measured by either of them are displayed for both. The only workaround at this time is to artificially modify the listed name of one of the measurers.

Bob Baumel (RRTC webmaster) commented on the redesign of the USATF website, which was changing the appearance of in real-time, even while our meeting was taking place. It’s unclear exactly how this redesign will impact Bob’s ability to work on the portions of the USATF site that he maintains. All present were reminded about the RRTC Bulletin Board at (now moderated by Mark Neal, taking over a role that Pete Riegel performed for many years) and the additional RRTC website at (maintained by Bob), which provides a useful, central set of links for all information related to course certification.

Agenda Items:

Adjustments to certified courses without complete remeasurement. Issues discussed included the number of times a course can be adjusted before requiring remeasurement of the whole course, whether the adjusted course will get a new 10-year life, and who does the adjustments. It was agreed that, without two complete measurements of the whole course (as required for a new certification), courses will not be given a new 10-year life. An adjusted course, if approved, will be given a new certificate with a new number, but this number will still include the original year of certification. This number should be selected as the next available number in the Certifier’s sequence from the course’s original year of certification, so the adjusted course will still expire 10 years after its original certification. A course may be adjusted any number of times, but the number is limited in practice because the expiration date won’t be extended when adjustments are made. Adjustments should preferably be made by the original measurer; however, if this isn’t possible, the choice of measurer to make the adjustment needs to be approved by the Regional Certifier.

How long to save Certificates and who saves them? The Registrar will save paper copies of Certificates and Maps for 10 years (and also keeps multiple electronic backups which are kept indefinitely), Vice Chairs and State Certifiers should keep their copies for 5 years.

Map requirements. Gene scans maps in black & white to produce PNG image files of size no greater than 300 kB, to meet requirements set by the USATF website. Scanning in grayscale would produce considerably bigger files, and color scans would be still bigger. Maps that include color or grayscale can yield very poor results when scanned in black & white, but it isn’t practical for Gene to spend the effort to generate files that would meet the USATF requirements in these cases. Certifiers need to convince measurers to submit maps that scan well in black & white. We understand that a client may want a measurer to produce a color map; however, the map submitted for certification serves a different (informational) purpose, and should not include color.

Should we appoint good measurers to Final Signatory status? This will not be done, as Final Signatory status is normally granted only after the measurer has already served RRTC as a Certifier or similar capacity. However, good measurers will be noted and kept in mind as needs arise, e.g., for Certifiers or Validators.

USATF Certified Official status for course measurers. Irene Herman and David Katz spoke about the new Certified Official status for course measurers, which will provide USATF liability insurance for measurers working on both sanctioned and non-sanctioned events. Many of the details had already been explained last year, and agreement has been obtained from the USATF Officials Committee. This is a special category of officialdom that will be administered entirely at the national level (through RRTC) – not through the Associations as other types of USATF Officials are administered. According to David, the mechanisms are already in place, and he promised to get out the info on how measurers can become certified officials.

Certificates posted online. Certificates for all new certifications, since late October 2010, are being posted on the USATF site, together with the course maps. For older certifications, only the maps (not the certificates) are online.

Turnarounds on Racewalk courses. Justin Kuo emphasized the importance of laying out proper turning arcs for turnarounds in racewalk courses. Our Manual describes a procedure for measuring turnarounds as if runners could reverse direction on a spot. This is obviously artificial, but is adequate for most normal road-running courses, which rarely include more than one or two turnarounds. (And if you do lay out a more realistic turning arc in such a course, you run the risk of the course coming out short if the arc isn’t set up correctly on race day.) Racewalk courses, on the other hand, should never be laid out using the “hairpin” turns described in the Manual. These courses consist of numerous laps of a short loop such as 2 km, so the distance covered in turns is a significant fraction of the total. Also, given all the officials required in an official racewalk event, it’s safe to assume that the arcs will be set up correctly. To document such a turn, the map should describe the required arc of cones by specifying the arc center and radius. The official path to measure is 30 cm outward from the documented cone positions.

Google Earth as a measurement tool in validation? Validating a course doesn’t always require remeasuring it. Our procedures allow approving a validation based on reputation of the original measurer. When the measurer’s reputation is unknown, the current Validation Chair has sometimes used Google Earth to decide whether a course passes validation. All present agreed that, while Google Earth is an excellent tool for many purposes, this usage in the validation process is inappropriate and needs to be discontinued. An underlying problem, which may have led to this inappropriate use of Google Earth, is in finding measurers to do validations. The Validation Chair needs to contact the State Certifiers to recommend potential Validators, or to comment on reputation of the person who did the original measurement for Certification. We agreed that RRTC needs to prepare a formal description of the role of the Validation Chair, analogous to the job descriptions we posted on the USATF site in 2009 for several other RRTC officers. We also agreed to revise the fees that RRTC pays to Validators.

Other Discussion:

Olympic Trials Marathon Course Pre-validation. Gene indicated that RRTC has received approval to perform a Pre-validation of the course in Houston to be used for the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012. The pre-validation measurement will be conducted during the third week of October 2011, by teams of 3 women and 3 men to be selected by the RRTC Chairperson. The course itself includes 3 laps of an 8-mile loop. This same loop will also be used in the 2011 USA Half Marathon Championship to be held in Houston on Jan 29, 2011, giving athletes a chance to preview the course of the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials, which will be held on Jan 14, 2012.

Races that falsely advertise certified courses. Questions were raised on how to deal with races that falsely claim their courses to be certified. The recommended sequence of action would be for the Regional Certifier to first contact the race director. If that doesn’t stop the false advertising, the next step should be to call in the USATF Legal Department.

Should course certification require race sanctioning? David Katz suggested that, because RRTC Course Certification is recognized by USATF and RRCA, it ought to be a requirement for any race with a certified course to be sanctioned by either USATF or RRCA. Steve Vaitones stated that the sport benefits by having sanctioning and course certification work hand in hand. However, it was noted that certified courses are often obtained by “mom & pop” races who get their course certified in order to show runners that the distance is accurate, but don’t bother sanctioning their race. Most at the meeting seemed to feel that tying certification to sanctioning would significantly reduce the demand for course certification, reducing the overall accuracy of course measurement, and degrading the quality of the sport. Discussion of this topic has continued on the RRTC Bulletin Board.

Calibration course length according to Procedures Manual. Duane Russell pointed out that, while our Procedures Manual says calibration courses “must be at least 300 meters in length,” its current language encourages laying out greater lengths. It says, “Most calibration courses are at least 500 meters in length. This is recommended for the calibration course you lay out close to home,” suggesting that shorter lengths be used only when it’s desired to quickly tape a cal course in the vicinity of a race course. Duane suggested revising the language to eliminate the preference for calibration courses longer than 300 m, as thinking on this topic has evolved, so that many measurers have a “home” cal course of around 300 m now.

Measurement by Pacing contest:

Following a tradition that has been maintained at all but one of the RRTC meetings since 1987, a Measurement by Pacing contest was held again at this year’s meeting. Jim Gerweck laid out a contest course in front of the Virginia Beach Convention Center, and 14 people tried their luck at pacing the distance. As Jim had gotten sick by the time of our meeting, Duane Russell tallied the results and presented awards. Gene Newman, Duane Russell and Irene Herman had the three best measurements, and were presented decorative jars containing Virginia Beach mementos. Yours truly (Bob Baumel) had the worst measurement, and was given the “booby prize” consisting of an actual sample of Virginia Beach in a plastic bag.


The meeting was officially adjourned at about 12:30. However, following the formal end of this meeting, Duane Russell presented a tutorial describing how he produces course maps. In this presentation, which took about half an hour, Duane explained the software he uses and the techniques he employs. A number of measurers remained for this presentation and found it very interesting.

Minutes prepared by Bob Baumel, RRTC Secretary
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If you look at the link •Policies on Pre-race & Post-race Validation Measurements
Here you find answers about validations.

In another section where the role of the Validation Chair is defined more information is provided.

When one is asked to do a Validation, the Validation Chair is the one who would further explain what is done. Hence, there is no specific manual at this point in time for what you asked.

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