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You will no doubt recall that a 5k event last fall in seaside Heights New Jersey was the subject of a terrorist bombing attempt. Had the race director not delayed the start of the race for 30 minutes to accommodate the large number of day of registrations there would no doubt have been casualties.

I have been in touch with the race director and the event will take place this year, however they have changed the course. No longer with the course incorporate local streets in this oceanfront boardwalk town. Rather the race will take place almost entirely on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. Essentially, the course consists of 2 out and back loops on a 3/4 mile stretch of boardwalk. The off boardwalk portion of the course onto a side street is minimal.

I asked the race director how many participants he was expecting. Because of the national notoriety this event has received the registration numbers have swelled to say the least. In 2014 there were approximately 700 participants. This year they are expecting between 3,000 and 4,000 participants.

The race director, the borough and other local officials made their decision soon after the cancelled 2016 event to have the race on the boardwalk. A recent article in the Asbury Park Press also refers to the venue of the race as taking place on the boardwalk. The event website also refers to a boardwalk course.

Am I out of line for telling the race director that he is making a huge mistake by holding a 3,000 to 4,000 person 5k on a 3/4 mile track? Do I have an obligation to say something. I think the race committee (probably all non-runners) is clueless. Or should I just shut-up, measure the race, send it in for certification and call it a day. Maybe you think that there is no problem here, that you've seen more people jammed into a smaller area than this and those events went off without a hitch. That's why I'm posing these questions to this obviously knowledgeable and experienced community.

Your thoughts please.
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Thank you Gene and David. When you really think it through the concept of a 5k with this many people on this course is ridiculous. They want the start and finish to be the same. Imagine hundreds and hundreds of people gathered around the finish line while some runners are actually finishing and other runners are coming through the start/finish area to begin their second loop. Nothing but chaos. To this add spectators and security along the course on both sides of the boardwalk. It just makes no sense. The race isn't until September so there's plenty of time to get this right.

I have some experience with something like that. I measured a "Hot Chocolate Run" a few years ago on a completely untenable course. Well it might barely have been possible had they run it as specified on the map but they got a little careless and went the wrong direction on the loop!! But honestly, I shouldn't have done it. They ended up running a half marathon that was maybe half a mile short (by arbitrarily changing the finish line) and a 5K that completely exploded into chaos. The thing about it is no matter "whose fault" this is, your name is still on the course map. Your are right to push back!
So I have an update. I went back to the race director and simply explained to him that the course will not work for the number of runners anticipated. He thanked me for my advice and after a dozen or so back and forth emails we had a new course. I have the green light to measure it once he obtains the required municipal permits. Clearly it was right to advise him against using the original course.
Good comments. At the end of the day you are the expert, hired to measure but also if there are issues with the course you should voice them. Typically RD's are willing to make changes if we express concern. On 2 instances I polity said "I'm not the guy for you" and chose not to perform the work when there was serious concern with a course design element. Very glad to see this worked out in your favor and the RD was agreeable.
To anyone who is interested in this thread I have an update. I measured the new course on June 15, 2017, submitted paperwork, yada, yada, yada. I'm still not convinced that this is a great or even good course but it is what it is, certainly much better than the original. Last week I got a call from the RD. The course had to be changed. I think it was politics but I suppose the reason is irrelevant. Yesterday I met with the Seaside police department to get my new marching orders. The RD came later. The current certified course provided use of the entire boardwalk width and curb to curb on borough streets. Yesterday's course was to be restricted to 1/2 of the boardwalk width and one lane of a borough street which is a substantial section of the course. So we now have give or take 3,000 runners on an out and back 5k course using half the boardwalk and half a street which will be lined with cars for its entire length on race day. I measured the course and went home. It bothered me all day so this morning the email went out to the RD saying the new course has major issues and was potentially unsafe. I'll report back after my meeting Thursday with a small army of interested parties. This one's not over by a long shot.
The race took place today. My curiosity compelled me to attend both as an observer and a participant. The race director's prediction of as many as 3,000 runners did not materialize; there were roughly 1,000 participants. I'm happy to say that it turned out well. Instead of restricting the boardwalk and local streets to half width runners had the use of the entire boardwalk and curb to curb on the streets. I don't know if these changes were made because I said something or because common sense prevailed, but the important thing is they got it right. That they didn't follow exactly the measured route is another issue that I won't get into. If anything the course used may have been a drop longer than the measured course.
bobthurston posted:
Keep us posted, Jack. Glad you sent that email. If I'm honest I probably would have done the same thing (measure it and then feel bad and speak up). What I hope I learn to do is just refuse to measure something that is either unsafe or unworkable.

I have cultivated a technique for dealing with this in advance, because I refuse to measure a "stupid" course proposal. I'll wager that Bob and many measurers here have seen plenty of them.

Often, I get initial designs that vary between OK and a hot mess. I make sure to compliment them on whatever they give me. I say "This looks to be about 98% excellent. Let's focus on the remaining 2% (actually closer to 25% or more, usually) to make this a certifiable course." If I can get my client to look at the course on line while we are talking, I can always get them to see, though it may take 15 minutes, even more, what the issues are with their design.

I suspect my experience is not unlike that of most of us here. The most common problem I get is insufficient real estate in which to fit the desired distance. Next is the issue of whether a contiguous Start-Finish is being addressed, since this saves timing/scoring expense. On several occasions, I have been presented with a design that has runners crossing paths. I would guess I am not the only one!

I have found having this discussion helps tremendously with the entire process. In my measuring career, some boneheaded course designs have been precluded by my explaining a little about the requirements we must work with and by spending time reviewing the options with the client before getting on the bike.

I have found that most race directors, especially the clueless ones, are receptive to my input into course design. I suppose they view us as experts in that area, which I guess we are. I don’t like taking over the process completely, merely making common sense suggestions and leading them in the right direction. They usually agree and appreciate the input. 

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