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This common issue has come up before, but I don’t know if it has ever been satisfactorily resolved:

I just measured a popular, expired course for a new race. The new race is the customer. The new race prefers that we use their name on the certificate as the course name. But I just made contact with representatives of the old race that has failed to re-certify for three years. The old race wants us to keep their name on the course.

I think I could get these parties to split the cost and everyone would be very happy. I’d be embarrassed if our level of adminstrative expertise precludes us from reasonably accommodating both.

Can we accommodate both by having more than one logical race point to the same physical course? (Today, in the world of database systems we do this all the time.)

Thanks for any procedural assistance!

Jeff John
Amherst, NY

P.S. ---- My apologies to Duane Russell – Duane I recall you may have actually addressed this very issue at the tail end of your excellent Measurement Seminar in Buffalo last summer. I was lost in the lab at that instant and missed the pertinent detail! The seminar was a GREAT GREAT experience!
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There may be some guidance on the USATF.ORG web site under “Policy on Changing Name of a Course”, but it is flawed, I believe:

My current example will devolve to a scenario #3 in the policy statement cited above.

The suggested current solution under these guidelines is a new measure and certificate. But elsewhere, and for good reason, we are admonished to avoid laying down a new course on top of an existing course. It is not really our intent here to create a new course. I think this is not a technical issue, but an administrative one.

Any thoughts? Has this already been resolved?

I'm glad you feel the seminar was beneficial. We try hard to pack lots of information into our allotted time, and it can be overwhelming.

Number 3 is the scenario that you would use. However, I would submit that, if you measured the course the first time, you should not have to re-measure. You still have all of your original paperwork from the measurement. That should suffice as the supporting paperwork for the new certificate, with a new Course Name, and a new certificate number. There is no stated time limit on how long can be allowed between a measurement, and the submission of paperwork for certification. Some measurers take months to get a certification package sent, if the race is not going to be run until the following year, for instance.

What I said in the seminar, and what is reiterated in the policy, is that we encourage courses that could be used by many, to be named for the venue, and not a race. Thus, the "City Park 5k" can be used by many events, and the map/certificate does not promote one charity over the other. It is awkward for Race for the Cure to use the Diabetes Dash 5k course, but if it is the "City Park 5k" course, there is no conflict.

Good luck in settling this. You will need to submit new paperwork (and the fee) with the new course name, whatever the course name turns out to be.
Very good, Duane. I just got an email from the NY state certifier, Jim Gilmer, on this question. I believe he said the exact same thing:

(my re-wording) To handle this situation, we permit the dangerous and unnecessary redundancy of pretending that these are two distinct courses by handling each completely separately and issuing two distinct certification numbers.

Ok, That works for me. I know this solution will fit in our RRTC system today, as I understand it, because it pretends the issue does not exist.

I would not be able to do this in the real world, of course. For example, with this solution we could have one course invalidated for some race related reason. But, since there’s no link in our system to the “other course”, then the “other course” will probably remain unaffected – even though it is going to be the same physical course operating under the same measure. Not good.

Yes – I encourage naming courses after the geography – but for some reason a lot of folk like to put their brand on things when they design and pay for it. I don’t think that tendency is going to go away on its own.

Your Measurement Seminar was outstanding. You shared so many real life practical examples, information, tools, and philosophy – not to mention the camaraderie! I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend the session to any measurer, regardless of his/her experience. Thanks for doing that!
Hi Mark. Thanks for the reply! Sorry if my words were not clear. Let's try this: If local runner Henry Sypniewski sets an age group world record at race #1 and subsequently Gene measures the course for validation prior to record ratification and finds it 7 meters short, then the course is invalidated and effectively de-certified at that time. How would Gene know to decertify the "other" course used by race #2?

I think we agree. What you missed is that we don't yet have 2 names for one course. Instead we are officially pretending that we have two courses! I'd like there to be a way to have two names pointing to the same course. That's what I was asking -- do we have this or can we? I think we should.
Last edited by jeffjohn 2

What you are suggesting may not require much of a change in our system. Gene could answer this better than I could.

Your proposal, which makes database sense, only requires the Registrar to name the map file with the Certification Number (not the Course Name), which is how it currently exists. We, as measurers, would simply stop putting a name on our maps. The map itself would not have a race name on it anywhere, nor a Course Name. Simply the Cert Number.

When the Registrar enters info into the database that gets uploaded to the USATF site, he enters the Race Name in one field, and the cert number in another. Then, when someone does a search for a Race, the race name is associated with a cert number, which brings up the associated map. The database says, in human terms, "Race for the Cure - Hoboken uses Cert IL11001JW". If we added another entry in the db for another race that uses the same course, there would be an entry in the database that says "Run for Hunger uses Cert IL11001JW".

When someone searches on the USATF site, the underlying programming would then pull up Map IL11001JW as the result for a search for either Race for the Cure - Hoboken, or Run For Hunger.

If we make this change (not that it is likely to happen, but just following this scenario), then the maps we give to the race director would not have the race name on it, just the cert number. The cert would be their "ownership" that ties the name to the cert number, and the associated map (page 2 of the cert) would just have the cert number on the map. Nowhere would the race name appear on the cert.

Would race directors object? Maybe. But, I think this would solve more problems than it would create. If race directors didn't expect to see the race name on the map (we would have to carry that torch), they wouldn't object to seeing only the course number on the map. And, technically, the maps would finally be correct - we certify a course, not a race. What we supply now suggests that we certify a race, since we put race names on maps in many cases.

Jeff, are you ready to take up that battle??? Big Grin

I have been reading this and now understand what your saying.

As for Duane suggestion, about only using a Certification Number and no Names, I feel most races want a Name. We encourages races to have their Certification Number on the application, but how often does that occur? The change suggested is good, but not practical in my view.

Jeff there isn't a way for me knowing to decertify the other race. I feel this situation is very unlikely to occur. However,if most people feel that this is a problem, then maybe we should require all races in the situation Jeff ask to do a remeasurement for Certification. Hence, problem solved.
Gene, just to play Devil's Advocate on this:

We certify a course, not a race. However, we have been producing maps that contain the race's name, which has given the false impression to many that we certify the race.

If we stopped putting race names on the maps, that would support out contention that we certify courses. The race would say the use "Course Number VA11025JQP", and the database shows that now. There would be no change needed in the reporting process.

The certificate would still have the race name on it, as they are who contracted to have the course measured and certified. They deserve to have their name on the cert. But, the fact remains, it is the course itself which is certified, and anyone can use the course, if they make the proper arrangements with authorities and any pertinent landowners. I think that would go a long way towards correcting the perception that we have certified a race, instead of a course.
I believe that once the course is named it should retain the name forever. I don't see the point of tampering with the course history to suit the desires of a new sponsor. The course number is the true identification of a course, not its name.

This policy, if adhered to, will send the message that one should be cautious in naming a course.

It always made me wince when, as a measurer or a certifier, I had to include a sponsor name in the race name. I dislike the practice.

We have been asking people to include the course ID in their promotional material for decades. If they do not do so, thus aiding the searcher, why is it our problem?

Don't change course names once they are certified.
As I see it Duane's suggestion really has two parts (Duane can correct me if I'm wrong):

#1) Stop putting race names on certification maps. Nothing changes in the database used for the website. The race name is still listed online for the course, so if you do a search of the race name the course will still show up.

#2) The above facilitates the idea of having two races use the same certified course. If another race is going to use the same course another record is included in the database that includes the new race name and the same cert #. If you do a search on the race name, the course will show up. If you do a search on the cert #, two records will show up, one for each race name.

#1 will be hugely unpopular with races, and probably many measurers as well.
For #2, how do we decide when to list a second race for a course? Does a race director just let us know his race is going to use cert #xxx and we then list his race as one that uses the course? Does he have to get permission from the owner? Will we have to keep a record of who paid for the course to be measured so that we know who the owner is?
Mark has it correct, with his descriptions of #1 and #2.

I think the way to sell the "no race name on the map" (and no course name whatsoever), is to reiterate that we have certified the course, not the race. The certificate number is what should be on the map, not a race name. The race uses Course # OH11005PR. If other races use the course, then so be it. I think the multiple listings of races using the same course may be reduced, as now a new race will simply refer to "USATF Course OH11001PR" in their brochure. Runners will search for the map via Course Number (Cert Number), not race name.

I am not suggesting we change the past maps or database. If I am a runner, and I see that Joe's 5k uses OH11005PR, I will look up that cert number in the USATF database. If the race doesn't list the cert number, then yes, the runner will look for the race name in the database. It won't be found,unless we add it.

If we don't have race names on a map, then the second race to use the course will have little need to have a course re-measured, as there is no competing identity on the certification map. This eliminates most of the desire for a new map. They will refer to the cert number, and the map pops up with no competing race name on it, so all is well.
For Mark's question regarding #2, it wold be a very simple task to set up a Submission page on the USATF site. It would simply ask for some race information, and have the user enter the Certificate Number for the course they are planning to use.

The downside is, there is no validation on our part. Should there be? Why should we care if a course is used for multiple races? However, if a user fat-fingers an entry, then that entry exists, with no way for them to remove it.

A cross-check method, and a bit harder to program the entry interface for, would be to have all submissions go to the certifier for that state.

Maybe it is time for us to take another step, and alter our process. We can't always do what we have always been doing, as the certification environment is changing. We need to be flexible, and see how we can accommodate new needs.
Duane, I assume you are saying is to change the search engine and just have a course ID number used search for a course..

Let's say this is done. This would solve the problem if a course was found to be short.

However, why should we issue a certificate for another group that wants their name on this certificate. The first group paid to have their course certified. Maybe, they gave permission for the second group to have a name change.

Maybe the policy we established needs to be adjusted as follows:

There are three situations to address.
1. The original race asks for a name change and a new Certificate.
2. A new group secures written permission from the old group to change the course name and have their own Certificate.
3. Another group wants to use this course and request their own Certificate.

For #1 they will follow this procedure
They should produce the original Certificate (with the map on back) and resubmit a old map with the original course ID Number on it to the Regional Certifier along with a $10 fee. Then the Regional Certifier will issue a new Certificate with the original ID Number and a new course name only on the Certificate. The new certificate would be submitted to the Vice Chair with the normal fee. The old course would not be taken off the data base.

For #2 and #3 they will follow this procedure
It must be remeasured and follow the normal protocol. The old course will remain on the list!
Gene, No, we wouldn't even have to change the search engine. As it is now, I believe you enter a Race Name in one field in the db. You then enter the Cert Number in another field. This ties the two together, so if I search for "Dam Run 5k", up pops the map for "CO11003DCR". If we keep a course name or race name off the map, the map shows as the map for "CO11003DCR". No possession indicated on the map. The cert does, however, show who paid for the certification.

Then, someone else wants to use the same course. They go into a new form on the USATF site, and enter their Race Name (Nuther Run 5k), and the cert number of the course they want to use, which in this case would be "CO11003DCR". Now, when someone enters either "Dam Run 5k" or "Nuther Run 5k" in the search engine, the map for CO11003DCR pops up. No race name, so runners aren't confused by seeing "Dam Run" on the map, if they searched for "Nuther Run". The cert may have to be modified just a bit, to indicate the race that the course was "Originally certified for".

If someone entered "CO11003DCR" as the cert number they are looking for (since it was advertised in both the Dam Run and Nuther Run brochures and Web sites), they see the map with that cert number on it. Again, no confusion, if we change the cert verbiage.

The downsides to this, as I see it, are that anyone can enter a race name and cert combination, and it goes into the db. How many people are going to enter bogus info? Not many, I hope. Or, a race director enters the wrong cert number, either through fat-finger, or they had the wrong cert number to begin with. Who does the maintenance?

I do see push-back initially from race directors, as "I paid for it, I want my name on it". But, we are certifying a course, not a race. A course really can be identified only by its number, I think. Having their race name on a map does not stop someone else from using a course. We can have a prominent blurb on the entry form along the lines of "Someone else paid for this course to be certified. See the certificate, and drop them an email, so you can make a contribution to offset their expense."
Renaming a Course

There may be a simple way to do this.

Course listings already have a column that states the type of course. We have “Road’, “Cal”, Trck” and “Any” already on the search engine.

This column in the posted list could have a new category. Call it “Renamed.”

A request for renaming a course is received from the original measurer. A copy of the original certificate is forwarded to Gene with the request. When the data is entered, instead of entering “road” in the data entry column, the word “renamed” is used. The new name would be used in place of the old one. All the other data remains the same, including the original course ID.

The search engine might then come up with two courses if the only the ID is used. One would be the original, the other the renamed course.

If the new name is used in the search, the listing would come up with the original map.

Perhaps a line of explanation could be added to the search page.

This would be a very simple solution to the problem. All original data would be preserved. There would be no need to create a new certificate.

I don’t intend that this be a final solution to the problem, but it seems to me to minimize the hassle for what is a small but untidy problem.

Further discussion is invited.
Last edited by peteriegel
What's the big problem we're trying to solve here?
Right now if two races want to use the same course and both races want to be listed in the database, we post two maps in our database, with the only difference between them being the race name at the top. What's the problem with that?

Any other way of entering the races in the database is only going to work if the map doesn't have a race name at the top. Races won't do that on their own, so we would have to require it to make it happen. I don't think we want to do that.
As I stated before, If someone pays to have their course certified then that race name belongs to them. If that group request a name change, then issue a new certificate with the old number. Hence, two course would show on the USATF site with that Certification Number. This is not a big deal.

However, if someone else wants their name on that course, then they should be required to do a new measurement even if they get permission from the old race people(different from existing policy).
Gene, if we are certifying courses, why put race names on maps? The certificate has the race name of the race responsible for the measurement. The race uses course number whatever, doesn't it?

If another race wants to use the course that was certified as Course Number (whatever), they can. Are we taking the position of "fairness cops"? Where we say "someone else paid to have this course measured, so if you want to use the same course, and have a map made with your name on it, you have to pay for the process to be repeated"? Seems like overstepping our realm of responsibility. And, if they go to the same measurer, why can't the measurer just make a new map, and just replace the name?

We have been listing races, and the course they paid to have certified. We have also been putting a name on most courses, indicating the name of the race that paid for the certification. That seems to infer that we are certifying races, not courses. To require that a race that wants to use the same course, pay for a new measurement when all they want is their name on the map, seems to further the misconception that we are certifying a race, not a course.

Just trying to break it down, so I can answer Mark's question "what are we trying to solve?". In my mind, right now, it is the question of two races using the same course, and Race #2 not wanting the map to have Race #1's name on it. If our maps only had the Certificate Number, there would be no issue. But, if we are trying to make sure that Race #2 doesn't use a course that Race #1 paid to have certified, that is a different issue. Back to the "fairness cops" comment.

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