Skip to main content

How many times do you see a course named 3.1 miles for a 5k, 13.1 miles for a half marathon or 26.2 miles for a marathon. All these course are certified as a 5k, Half Marathon and a Marathon.

Just as an example if one says the 5k is 3.1 miles and certified as a 5k, then its actually it's 36.2' more than 3.1 miles. Should the certifier change the name on the Certificate/Map to indicate the proper certified length?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I thought we (almost) all agreed that the RRTC has no control over the name of the course or race? I also thought that (almost) all agreed that putting the actual measured distance on the map along with the effective dates was a good idea.

When we measure a 5 km, we actually measure 3.1068560 mi because it is easier, for us, than working in metric units. The submittal to the certifier always shows both units. However, we never call a 5 km a 3.1 mi race, many runners do.
I disagree with letting them call it whatever they want. Ignorance should be overcome, in my mind.

If the map has the incorrect length, the certifier should correct it. That is our document, relating to the certification. It is not created for race publicity. Therefore, we should make it correct, or we are not issuing correct documentation. We are responsible for accuracy in all of our documentation.
Jim, and Guido Brother, and others who are thinking one system of units or the other is easier: it can all be easier if you carry a calculator with lots of memories-- just save any constants that will be handy and they're at your fingertips. I'm partial to metric also, but I need to deal with both systems for most courses I measure.

I'm going to start another thread on this (calculators) when I get around to it.

Meanwhile I'm a little curious: Guidos, aren't 5 places after the decimal enough? And Jim, why would you want to deal with yards, feet and inches in any case? (Other than giving feet or yards when describing locations)
I've been saying let them call it what they want but I do agree that "3.1", "6.2", "13.1", and "26.2" all rub me the wrong way too-- if we're willing to reject those names for common race distances we would be helping to reduce the GNI (gross national ignorance).

Personally I haven't experienced a lot of problem with this kind of thing when it comes to naming a race-- most RD's seem to want their race to be called 5K, 10K, etc, and I've found that the occasional misguided RD is happy to have the "wrong" name changed-- like "half marathon" rather than 13.1 miles.

Maybe it's enough just to let them understand that using "3.1" instead of "5K" makes them look a little, well, not smart?
Pete Reigel posted a little study of the number of decimal places and their affect on accuracy. However, I use the conversions from the Course Measurement Manual (5 km = 3.1068560 miles) figuring I will at least be able to defend my choice of number of decimal places. I have no excuse for sticking with miles, feet and inches except laziness and freedom of choice.
A problem with using Imperial "equivalents" of metric distance courses can arise when a race director maps out a course online at 3.1 or 6.2 miles, and it comes up short in the actual measurement, since they don't know those metric distances are longer than that.

I consider half and full marathons to be metric distances, since they are officially defined that way. It is much easier IMHO to measure 42,195m than 26 miles 385 yards.

One of my most frustrating measurement experiences was measuring a half marathon with an excellent measurer who worked in Imperial units. When we got done, it took about 15 minutes to compare our rides because of the extra math. We were speaking the same language, but in different and virtually unintelligible dialects.
Race name has an incorrect distance in the Race Name.

We will not allow false advertising by stating an incorrect length within the Race Name when it is blatantly misleading. That said, the Certifier would notify the measurer and ask to have the race distance corrected within the race name. Basically, it will be up to the Certifier to see if this is misleading the runners.

Note: If the race distance is different than the distance in the Race Name, the Certifier should place the distance on the map as it's already on the certificate.
When we measure a course for certification, we also (as required) make a map. The title block that we put on the map is required to contain certain information; date measured, measurer's name and email, elevations and separation. I always add the measured distance. If a race director names the 5K race "the Flatburg Marathon", my title block would read as follows:
The Flatburg Marathon
Flatburg, CA
5K (3.1068560-Mi)

My earlier suggestion was that the map also contain the certified distance in the area where the certifier adds the USATF symbol and effective dates.

I feel that my responsibility for truth in advertising is met.
The most famous example of this is the New York Mini Marathon all-women's race in Central Park. Fred Lebow came up with the name to capitalize on the popularity of the miniskirt at the time. NYRR has since truncated the name to just the "Mini" but for a while there seemed to be a lot of "mini marathons" popping up. Dave Katz & I remeasured the course just last year.
Like Guido I have started making a differentiation between the measured distance and course name on the map.

I allow the RD to tell me what they want on the map for the race name and I add a block below the title "Measured Distance".

This weekend a club wanted a 50k measured and they laid out a 10k loop which they would run 5-times. They said they didn't want any out & back sections. We all know it's almost impossible to measure a loop without an out & back section and have the start/finish in the exact same spot so I told them, "I'll measure it but it's not going to be exactly a 10k loop" and it wasn't.

The course map title says GoRUn 50k, but I added the distance of the course (50.24k) to the map.

It doesn't bother me they don't call it a 50.24k.


Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.