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What does this word realy mean? I have been asked this question and present it as a topic for discussion here.

There was a time when a course was replacing another course the old course was removed from the active list. The RRTC decided this shouldn't happen, because the old course could still be used. We now only removed a course from the active list when a course is unusable.

Any thoughts?
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The value in removing the course from the list is there is no confusion as to which course is being used. With the course list now being pretty much accessible to anyone who wants to look at it, I can see where such confusion would be possible, especially when there are multiple courses with the same name. We sometimes get around that by including the year in the course name, but not always.

That being said, I'm with Jim in my opinion that we shouldn't remove a legitimate course from the course list, even if it is no longer being used by the entity for which it was originally measured and certified.

I'd think the guidance to send out to measurers and certifiers is that if you put a course number in the "replaces" field on the application (and thus on the certificate), that course WILL be removed from the course list, so if the old course can still be run, that field should be left blank.
I'm with the "keep it if it's runnable" crowd. To do otherwise opens the "who owns the course?" can of worms.

I always add the year measured to the course name if it is for an existing race using an active, runable course. It is none of my business which certified course the race director decides to use. It is also none of my business if someone else (who didn't contribute to certification) uses the course.
Mark, I'm confused.

On the certificate, the "replaces" field tells the Registrar to remove the named course from the active course list.

On the online course register, doesn't the replaced course simply drop off?

Where does "replaced by" enter into the picture?


I think the big picture here kind of boils down to "who should determine whether or not a course should remain on the active list- those who arranged to have it certified- or those of us who maintain the course list?"

I don't have strong feelings either way. With the course list now in the public domain, anyone can read it, and I can see how there could be confusion as to which edition of a number of courses with the same name was used for a specific event. I can see the argument for keeping as many courses certified as possible, but I can also see a race organizer's arguiment in favor of removing a course from the list if they are certain they will never use it again- even if someone else possibly could.

Removing courses from the couse list makes that list less cumbersome, but ading courses back to the list is more work for everybody involved. Not sure if the lighter weight is worth it.
I never remove a course as was decided by the RRTC a few years ago if one writes a course to be replaced by whatever.

If one states the course in unusable, then that course is removed from the active list.

I don't think we should remove a course from the active list as maybe next year the race will choose to use the old course.
Good point Gene. For instance, a race decides to change its course due to construction. Next year, the construction is finished (does that ever happen in America?) and they decide they want to go back to the original course. If that has been "replaced" it may be hard to document.

I have used Pete's system of adding a year to a course when it is changed. Several NYC courses also have years appended to their titles. It's a simple, easy solution.
If the old course is unusable, and we put the old cert number in the "Replaces" field, the old course is marked as inactive. If it is unusable due to construction, the course would have to be remeasured post-construction, anyhow.

I don't see how, if we only use "Replaces" when the old course is unusable, that would create any issue. The old cert cannot be resurrected post-construction.

But, as a certifier, it is not up to us to decide why the measurer populated the "Replaces" field on the application. We need to be sure that all measurers know what "Replaces" means - not that it is a new course for the event, but that the old course is no longer accessible as mapped, by anyone. Maybe, we could put a "Reason" field on the application, so that the certifier will know why the "Replaces" field is populated. Otherwise, it will almost always require communication with the measurer before we can complete the certificate.
There are numerous situations where construction makes a course unusable for a year or two, but does not change it.

If we're going to have the "replaces" field on the certificate, it should mean something. Current RRTC policy, if I understand correctly, is simply to ignore anything in the field. The only way a course is removed from the course list short of its expiration, is if it fails a verification measurement or if someone specifically asks for it to be removed.

If we're going to retain the field, then let's develop clear guidelines for when it should be used and what happens when it's used, and communicate them clearly to certifiers for communication to measurers.
The "Replaces" field doesn't mean anything in the sense that it is for information only, to help a user figure out which course map is currently being used for a race. But when you think about it, the same is true for the "City" field.

I think though, that the "Replaces" field is redundant information. The certification number can be used to figure out the most recent map for a course. The most recent map is not necessarily the one currently being used for a race, but it usually is, and trying to determine that using the "Replaces" field isn't any more reliable.

So I kind of agree with Jay. Maybe we should stop using the "Replaces" field.
The replace field needs to be addressed at our meeting. My feeling is we need to add a 2nd box on the certificate as "unusable". Hence, if one want to use a different course in a particular year, then they are replacing the old course. The old course is still usable. However, if the old course is no longer usable, then the 2nd box as well as the replace box would be checked.
How about "Replaces unusable course # CO11001DCR"? I don't like to use "Replaces" when the old course is still a viable course. The new course is but another of certified courses available for use.

As Mark says, races can use different courses each year. Just because a new course was certified in 2011, does not necessarily mean that course will be used in 2012 and 2013. They may revert to an older course for a year, or two.
Duane if you look at explanation of Fields, then you will see this definition for Replace as it's below.

Replaces - If this course replaces an older one, this column displays the ID number of the older course that got replaced. This does not imply the old course is unusable as it's still Active.

This was not always our way of dealing with replace. Prior to 2008, the registrar removed courses. In 2008, we decided that we should not remove a course unless it was deemed unusable. I do like your idea, but it goes against the definition.
Then "Replaces" is not accurate. To replace something means the other item is no longer around. The old course is still viable, and can be found in the list.

Someone else had suggested we only use "Replaces..." when the old course is no longer a viable course. To me, that makes more sense than keeping the old course on the list, but putting "Replaces..." in the table. That indicates to me, and possibly new race directors looking for a course, that the old course is no viable.

Semantics, but words have specific meanings, even if we put forth a different definition.
I agree with Duane 100%. I have worked with a couple races here that have changed their courses on an almost yearly basis (well, not quite, but it seems that way). And at least one has reverted to TWO of the previously certified routes.

In all of these cases, I have NEVER checked the "Replaces" box on the cert - I see little benefit, and a greater potential for harm, when doing so.

My feeling is it should be removed from the certificate form. And I'm not sure what benefit is derived from substituting an "Unusable" field. If the course is indeed unusable due to construction or act of God, the race organizers certainly know that. Is that something that helps the average runner? I don't believe so, and it creates more work and the possibility of error and inaccuracy for us.
Last edited by jimgerweck
Jim, I understand your point of view. However, one must understand the word replace if used as unusable has true meaning.

That's why we must find a way to get all to understand the meaning of replace. I feel if there are two boxes on the certificate, then it could be very clear as to what a race is doing. They may be replacing a race certified that is perfectly a good course or they may be replacing a course that's unusable. Hence, we need to add unusable to the certificate in my view.
If we are certifying courses, not races, then is it up to us to indicate in our database, which course a race may be currently using?

I think the only time "Replaces" should be used is when the old course is no longer viable. Even then, if the new course is in a different area than the old course, is it really a "replacement" course? It is a different course, not a replacement. I think "replaces" should only be used if a course has a section that is no longer accessible, and the course has been modified. Generally the same Start and Finish locations, but somewhere along the course, the route has been altered.

Again, we are managing course certification, not keeping track of which course a race is using for their event. We list a course, and show what event had the course measured. Beyond that, it is not up to us to track the different courses an event may use.
When we are declaring a course "unusable" I think we are really saying it is no longer "record eligible," at least as originally measured. For instance, construction has changed the overall distance. I think that is the point that needs to be addressed rather than focusing on courses that have become truly unusable, e.g. from a bridge collapse or a road washout.
Late last week I ran out of application forms so I downloaded the current versions of the forms, printed them, and made a bunch of copies of them. I note that the first page of the application form now asks in question 6 whether or not the course to be replaced is physically usable as certified.

Obviously not all measurers use the newest versions of the form; some have created versions of the form in the software they use that appear different but provide all of the useful information.

Neveretheless the inclusion of this question on the form gives the certifier the information he/she needs to properly populate the "replaces" field on the certificate. If the measurer indicates that this course replaces another, the certifier needs to ask the question.

I'll restate my position on this: If the course has been changed in some way that it can no longer be used as certified, it should be removed from the active list. This should be communicated by the measurer to the certifier, and from the certifier to the course registrar. The last communication should come via the use of the "replaces" form on the certificate. If the Course Registrar ses a course number in the "replaces" field, that should mean that the certifier has verified, through communication with the measurer, that the course identified in that field can no longer be used as certified.

If we do not do this, then I support the removal of the "replaces" field from the certificate. There is simply no reason to include a field on the certificate that is simply ignored (or requires supporting documentation from the certifier forward) as this field apparently does.

I struggle with whether or not a race director should be able to have a course removed from the active list, but lean to saying they should. As courses are mesured and certified because race directors take action to do so, I think they should be able to have their courses removed from the active list at their request. I give a higher priority to their priorities than I do to those of other race directors who might want to use the courses in question.

Additionally, every once in a while there's a case of a course that is inaccurate, most likely because a measurer made a mistake like misidentifying a street or incorrectly stating the direction to a landmark for a start, finish, or turnaround point. I suspect continuing to handles these as special cases works well enough.
Jay, Bob changed this form about a week ago. We decided not to notify our Certifiers until after our meeting, because of some changes that will occur to the certificate.

I feel if one uses the new form and indicates the course is unusable, then the replaced course would be indicated on the certificate. Hence, the replaced course would be inactive.
Jay, your feelings on "replacing" a changed course no doubt have some basis in that "little" race that was held last weekend in your hometown, right? Wink
I've experienced the same thing in NYC, which also (in)famously changes their courses slightly but enough to necessitate a new cert, as well as some aforementioned events here in CT.
My main concern in this regard is practicality and consistency. Some measurers will be diligent and accurate in reporting courses that "replace" an older one, and some certifiers will send that notice up the chain of command. Others either won't understand the meaning of "replace" (assuming a consensus is reached) or simply won't bother notifying the higher-ups of such a change in status.
And what if a different measurer measures a "replacement" course but isn't made aware that the pre-existing course was certified (or that perhaps its certification simply expired)?
In my view, this just makes more work for the registrar, and may not give us a "better" database - you may have some states that are 99% up to date, while others are full of "replaced" courses in the database.
I see little benefit in changing the status of "replaced" courses at the cost of a lot of clerical work.
My opinions on this subject have nothing to do with that particular course- four iterations of which remain certified, albeit with two different names since the title sponsor (actually the owner of the event) was bought out in 2007.

If I remember correctly, part of the rationale for imposing the expiration date on certifications was to keep the course list manageable and current, and one of the reasons we no longer allow certifications to be extended is that we are skeptical regarding the ability of a course to remain unchanged for ten years or more.

If we know that the reason a course is being changed is that the old course can no longer be run as measured and certified, and that the condition is permanent (terminal?), there's no reason for that course to remain on the active list.

Selective use of the "replaces" field on the certificate allows this to be communicated from the certifier to the course registrar. Standard operating procedure would be to err on the side of caution- use the field only if you were doggoned sure that the old course could no longer be run as measured and certified, and if there were any doubt, you leave the field blank.

If we can execute this, we have a more accurate course list. If removing the course from the active list requires a separate communication from the certifier to the course registrar, then our certificate would be just fine without the "replaces" field.

It's true that some states will have more accurate course lists than others will. It's true that in some cases a new measurer won't know that a couse with the same name in the same place had previously been certtified. I don't see either as a reason not to put a sensible policy in place for those who want to contribute to making it work.
I agree with Jay, and his use of the "replaces" field. Only for courses that are no longer useable as certified.

I disagree, though, that a race director can request a viable course be removed from the Active list, unless part of the course is on ground controlled by the RD, or a sponsor. If the general public has access to the entire course, the course should remain Active until expiration, or it becomes unusable as certified.
Jay, just kidding about the marathon.

I agree with you about removing unrunnable, or more accurately, no longer runnable as certified, courses.

Here's a suggestion: Perhaps we should have a separate "Removal of Unusable Course" form, similar to the old Renewal form. This would allow the "Replaces" box to be removed from the regular certificate, as well as providing space to spell out what circumstances necessitate removal of a course.

My own gut feeling is that such circumstances arise maybe a dozen times a year at the most, but I may be wrong.
Again, before I took over a registrar any course that had replaced was no longer Active. This concept was discussed and decided this wasn't correct in many cases as the old course was still usable, hence this has become a problem.

Jim's suggestion doesn't follow KISS! If we took replace off the Certificate, then what happens to all those course that were identified as replaced? We need to define replace as to what it really implies.

Do we use the old policy and remove a course if replace was used?

Do we follow the present policy and keep it Active unless told it's unusable?

Do we keep it on the certificate and add a second box that's marked unusable(this would allow the registrar to deem the course as not Active)?

Is it OK for someone to state why a course is unusable and not have a reason stated?

There are many questions and I for one don't have an answer.
Good points, Gene.

I prefer the "keep it Active unless told it is unusable". This would be clarified by adding a checkbox for "Unusable". But, if we are going to keep courses Active unless Unuseable, then the checkbox is not necessary. What is necessary is to make sure measurers and certifiers understand what "Replaces" means.

We could accomplish that by adding "(old course is no longer usable as certified)", or something to that effect. This would also indicate to anyone accessing the cert on the USATF site that the old course is no longer usable as certified.

To me, the only other reason that someone could ask for a course to be made inactive is it part of the course is controlled (on private property) by the race, and the old course will no longer be used. In this case, no one else could use the course on the private property, so they could want the old course deactivated to avoid confusion.
Jim, your mention of the marathon course is germane to the discussion here as there are currently four certified marathon courses that start and finish on Columbus Drive and include "Bank, Chicago, and Marathon" in the title and list Mr. Pinkowski as the race director. Only the latest one (IL-12144-JW) is currently being used. The others could be used, as the streeets haven't changed, but for various reasons the race director has chosen not to use them.

A couple of other things to note: It was about as cold as it was when you were last here (at least I was in a heated vehicle this time) and that the last time the race was on October 7 (2007) the temperatures were 40 degrees warmer. So go figure.

I'll hold judgment on the additional form until I see it, but I question what useful information it would communicate. How much do we really need to know other than that the course can no longer be used as measured?
That's pretty simple, Jim.

We removed the course from the active list because either the race contact (preferably), the measurer, or the certifier told us it could no longer be used. The only other case that comes immeidately to mind would be that of a failed verification, and that would also be easy to explain.

Do we need to be able to tell anyone who inquires it was because they rerouted the bike path or added a turn lane at 3rd and Walnut? I don't think so.

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