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Road Running Technical Council Minutes
USATF 2012 Annual Meeting – Daytona Beach, FL
RRTC Meeting – Saturday, December 1, 2012

Attending: Bob Baumel, Demetrio Cabanillas, Andy Carr, Mike Crowhurst, Ron Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerweck, Irene Herman, David Katz, Justin Kuo, Glenn Latimer, Carol McLatchie, Dick Moss, Lester Mount, Mark Neal, Gene Newman, Dave Oja, Jane Parks, Ron Pate, Rick Recker, Duane Russell, Steve Vaitones, Gary Westerfield, Toni Youngman.

The meeting was called to order at 08:33 by RRTC Chairperson Gene Newman. Gene began on a sad note because Paul Hronjak, who had been Vice Chair East since 2000 and North Carolina Certifier since 1995, lost his battle with cancer and passed away a few weeks before this meeting. Paul has “mighty big shoes to fill,” according to Gene. RRTC plans to establish an award to honor Paul. Gene then worked around the room and asked attendees to introduce themselves. He pointed out that RRTC differs from most USATF committees, in that the RRTC Chair is not elected, but is appointed by the President of USATF, and our meetings are relatively informal.

Officer Reports: All Officer reports were collected in advance of the meeting and posted at Because these reports are posted online, they will not be repeated here. Following are comments and discussion at the RRTC meeting related to the officer reports:

Justin Kuo, as Vice Chair East, reported that he took over this position from Paul Hronjak in September. The transition has been pretty smooth, and helped by increasing use of electronic submission. Dick Forbis, who was appointed the new Certifier in North Carolina, is coming up to speed quickly.

Duane Russell, as Vice Chair West, said that his major thrust has been to improve map standards, to make sure that measurers produce course maps that anybody can understand and use for setting up the race course.

Gene Newman, as Course Registrar, noted that, as of a week ago, Jane Parks was the leader in courses measured and Jay Wight was the leading Certifier with 207 courses so far. Illinois and New York both have over 200 courses, which are records, as no state ever exceeded 200 in any previous year. Nationally, the total is around 2700, making this a record year. Gene also pointed out that the Certified Course Search Engine on the USATF website was improved significantly during the past year, thanks largely to help from Blake Facey, the new USATF webmaster.

Bob Baumel, as RRTC Webmaster, reported that his task in managing RRTC pages on the USATF website was aided considerably by gaining access to the Kentico “Content Management System” that USATF began using two years ago. Blake Facey, the new USATF webmaster, was instrumental in giving Bob the necessary credentials and getting him up to speed on the Kentico system.

Measurement Workshops: No written report was submitted by the Workshop Co-chairs, as no official workshops have been held for the past two years (although Gene Newman, who is currently serving as Utah Certifier, did hold a workshop for measurers in that state). In discussing this situation, it was decided that the title of Workshop Chair will be changed to “Education and Training Chair,” and the primary role of this officer will be to provide materials and a standard curriculum to help Certifiers conduct workshops in their states.

Agenda Items:

Lifetime of calibration courses: It had been suggested that calibration courses be exempted from our standard 10-year expiration policy, and should last as long as the nails remain in place. Discussion of this issue covered lots of things that can go wrong in trying to use a previously certified calibration course: Can we ever be sure that the nails currently in place are the original ones? What if a 300 meter calibration course is assumed to be 1000 feet, or vice versa? Gene Newman mentioned that in last year’s validation of the Olympic Trials course, the nails for one of the calibration courses looked wrong, and a steel tape check showed that course to be off by half a meter. Toni Youngman asserted that if you’re measuring in another city, you should always measure a calibration course yourself, even if it was certified by someone else. Jane Parks asked how much work it is to spend half an hour re-taping a calibration course once every 10 years. It was decided that calibration courses will continue to expire after 10 years.

Removal of measurers from website: It was suggested that measurers listed on the USATF website at should be removed if, for example, the measurer produces poor maps or fails to respond to a Certifier’s questions in a reasonable time. As an objection, it was stated that if a measurer does poor work, their courses shouldn’t get certified in the first place. In response, Gene pointed out that a measurer may get courses certified but may, at a later time, become unresponsive. It was decided that, to provide a clear policy, Duane Russell will write a set of standards for measurers to be listed, and this will be posted on the website.

Comment field in certified course database? Justin Kuo suggested the possibility of a comment field in the database, which might be viewed in search results by clicking a link analogous to the link that displays course maps. This might be useful to denote special information about a course, for example, if a road name has changed. Jim Gerweck said that allowing such an open-ended comment field would open a can of worms. We decided to let this idea sit for a while and discuss it on the Course Measurement Bulletin Board.

Count spread in calibrating bicycle: It was suggested that the variation of counts obtained while riding the calibration course (within pre-calibration or post-calibration rides) should not exceed 2 or 3 counts, because large uncertainties in calibrating can eat up the short course prevention factor used in measuring the race course. As a suggested procedure, if calibration spread exceeds 2 or 3 counts, a measurer might do 5 or more rides until the counts stabilize. It was noted that, due to slope and wind effects, we can often expect greater variation between riding the two directions of the cal course; therefore, the 2 to 3 count spread limit should apply only for rides within each direction. We decided to add this recommendation to our Measurement Procedures manual and Bicycle Calibration Data Sheet.

“Replaces” field in Certificates, database and Certification application: The Application for Certification has long included a question on whether the new course being certified replaces a previously certified course. The answers to this question have been written on Certificates (for the newly certified courses), then entered into the certified course database and viewable on the web using the certified course search engine. Unfortunately, the meaning of “Replace” was always ambiguous. Sometimes it meant that the old course had been physically altered and no longer usable as certified; but sometimes it just meant that the race director wanted to use a new course, even though the old course was still perfectly usable. It has been suggested that this “Replace” concept is really a race management issue rather than a course certification issue, so it doesn’t belong on our Certificates. At the same time, we’d like to know when courses have become unusable, which is certainly a certification issue. Several possible solutions were suggested. The solution adopted will remove the Replaces field from Certificates. The question on the Application form will not be removed, but will be reworded to inquire only about old courses that have become unusable. When a measurer specifies an unusable course in response to this question, the Certifier will need to communicate the information (through their Vice Chair) to the Registrar. Since nothing will be written on the Certificate, it will have to be communicated separately by email. The Registrar will then decertify the old course by giving it a “U” code, but will not enter anything about this in the database entry for the new course. [As related actions, we might modify the Search Engine to stop displaying the Replaces field, and eventually remove the Replaces field from the database entirely.]

Validation vs. Verification terminology: RRTC has long used the term “Validation” to refer to a remeasurement to check the length of a certified course. [The term probably originated with Ken Young about 30 years ago.] However, as terminology has developed in IAAF and USATF rules, the term “Verification” is used for this kind of remeasurement, while “Validation” refers to the process of checking that a race was run on the course as certified. David Katz pointed out this discrepancy at last year’s meeting. At the present meeting, we considered whether to change terminology in RRTC documents, and if the title of our “Validation Chair” needs to change. It was decided to leave the “Validation Chair” title unchanged because this person is involved in the overall process of approving records, which can involve both aspects. We will, however, change terminology as appropriate in documents such as our Certificates, the Procedure Manual and our Web Pages.

Measurement by Pacing contest: Following the tradition at previous RRTC meetings, a Measurement by Pacing contest was held. The course was laid out and measured by Duane Russell and Toni Youngman, who worked it out so they could enter the contest themselves (They each knew the lengths of parts of the course, but neither knew the whole course length until they combined their data to determine the winners at our meeting). They also designed it carefully so the answer couldn’t be obtained with tools like Google Earth (by making sure that parts of the course weren’t visible from the air, and by requiring the answer in arbitrary units that they called “sandpipers”). Just before the winners were announced, David Katz announced that he had a special prize for the winner, assuming that the winner would be an IAAF measurer, namely, an IAAF vest. David said he can also take orders for these vests. Email David at if you’d like one. They can be made up with either IAAF or USATF labeling. The winners in our contest turned out to be:
1. Mark Neal – received a Daytona Beach mug and David’s prize.
2. Toni Youngman – received a Florida key ring.
3. John Elliott – received an alligator claw.

Olympic Marathon Measurement: David Katz described measurement of the 2012 Olympic Marathon course in London, which was measured by David, along with UK measurers Hugh Jones and Mike Sandford. David got only one official trip to do the measurement in June, but he previously stayed with Hugh Jones for 5 days in February, during which time he bought a bike in London. The official measuring trip in June was postponed for a week because of the Queen’s Jubilee. The measurement was done using a 352 m calibration course, measured with a 100 m steel tape that David had gotten calibrated by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a process that’s rarely done any more (consequently, NIST posted an article about it on their website, see The bike riding was done at around midnight. David’s Jones Counter froze, but he was able to put on another one. David said he was “scared stiff” as to how the measurement would turn out. But in the end, the cyclists’ measurements agreed beautifully. As it happened, David ended up in the hospital, due to falling while riding his bike back from the measurement. But, overall, David said the London measurement couldn’t have been more perfect.


The meeting was adjourned at about 11:15. However, several attendees remained for a while longer to discuss the Award that RRTC intends to establish in honor of Paul Hronjak.

Minutes prepared by Bob Baumel, RRTC Secretary
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