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How fantastic was it to watch the Men’s & Women’s World Championship Marathon?!  Brillant 3 loop 14 km course with SPR restrictions being so well barricaded and coned.  The course measurement, certification and pre-verification of OR22004JHP was nicely presented in a 9 page document detailing the course and all restrictions.  Measurers Jane Parks, Lee Barrett and Jeff Huber did a fantastic job showing how a Championship event should be measured, certified and pre-verification.  Their good work should be a standard for ALL Championships courses.

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It took months and lots of Google Earth mapping to arrive at the 14K course.  Many thanks to Ian Dobson, David Katz, and the World Athletics team for their work on the course prior to the measurements.  The final course was the second course we measured. We ultimately used that tricky turn between the 11th and 12th km mark to create an exact 14 km loop.  Many thanks to Lee Barrett and Jeff Huber for their amazing measurement skills and their patience as we finalized the course.  Jane

To your point Jim, I know there was some concern that the course was quite narrow in some points, so I was watching for where that happened and what effect it would have on the race. The answer seemed to be that it had zero effect. The fields were quite small (63 men, 41 women). There didn't seem to be much crowding at all.

The World Championships Marathon course setup crew could be fantastic advisors for future Championships.  I am sure there were many hours of planning and implementing to ensure the race day(s) course integrity.  This World Championship course team clearly followed The World Athletics Technical Rules, Book C-C2.1, Course 55.3 – Note(iii): If it is intended that parts of the course on race day will be defined by the use of non-permanent equipment such as cones, barricades, etc. their positioning shall be decided not later than the time of the measurement and the documentation of such decisions shall be included in the measurement.  As course measurers we have too often seen race day road course restrictions not set out correctly.  The World Championships Marathon demonstrated a cooperative team effort between all important course related activities.  Bravo!

The pre-verification of this Championships course seems equally integral to any high-level road race competition.  Interesting, of all the active certified courses only 40 are listed as Verified Passed.   I wonder how many of the USATF Road Race Championships are Verified Passed?

From the USATF website:

Rules for Verification of Road Courses

The following rules pertain to the verification of road running courses when records are set. This may require re-measurement by an expert measurer before or after the race. For USATF championship road races, the course must be verified in advance of the race, so it will not require a post-race re-measurement if a world or national open record is set. Please note that the Drop and Separation requirements in USATF Rule 265.4 pertain only to acceptability of records but will not prevent a course from being certified.

  • USATF Competition Rules, Article V (Records), Rule 265 (Rules Applicable to Long Distance Running Events): 4 (Road Records)

USATF Rule 265.4 is not self-contained, but refers to IAAF Rule 260.28:

  • IAAF Competition Rules, Chapter 5 (Technical Rules), Section X (World Records), Rule 260 (World Records), 28 (Road Running Events)

So, is this a rule, or a suggestion? Who decides?

I had a long-drawn out ruckus with a race director  a couple of years ago who was enraged that the American record run on his course in a 2018 state USATF championship race was denied because the course as mapped failed post-verification. Pre-verification would have uncovered the errors and would have resulted in a re-certification and a validated American record. As Kevin has suggested, what would prevent this kind of record-failure from recurring?

That is amusing. For me, it was more like "a vicious tongue-lashing from the RD" when I was forced to fail a post-verification for a course submission that almost certainly would have produced an American age group record had it been properly rectified prior to the amazing performance in 2018. The athlete beat the prior record for 15K by over 90 seconds. It was a heart-rending experience for me as well.

I believe pre-verification is required only for USATF National Championships, not state championships. Also, I believe it has been a requirement only for the past 5 or 6 years. That's probably why most of the 40 "Verification Passed" courses that Kevin mentions were certified fairly recently.

The pre-verification requirement doesn't mean the USATF is going to send somebody out to your course to verify it before your race. It means that one of the requirements of hosting a national championship is to hire two World Athletics measurers to measure your course. USATF could require state championship courses be pre-verified as well, but I imagine the RDs of many of those races wouldn't be happy about the the considerable extra expense they would be required to take on.

I know for a fact that, in the case of the Delaware Distance Classic State Championship 15K, for which an amazing performance was not record-validated, the race organizers would have been delighted to pay for pre-verification had the downside of what they, the athlete, and the verifying measurer experienced had been known in advance. It seems we created a gaggle of detractors for RRTC/USATF with what could have been a preventable debacle here. Trying to figure out how to avoid a recurrence of this type of failure doesn't seem easy to me, yet it does seem important.

There are just 4 remaining 2022 USATF Championships coming up in the next few months;

September 5th: Open 20 km in New Haven, CT – CT15054JHP Not Pre-Verified,

September 17th: Open 10 km in Northport, NY – NY21020DNB Not Pre-Verified,

September 18th: Masters 12 km in Highlands, NJ – NJ18017LMB course list says Verified, but listed as A (active),  

December 4th: Open Marathon in Sacramento, CA – CA18004DT Not Pre-Verified & Non-Record Eligible Point to Point Course.

For 2023, April 25th: Open Mile in Des Moines, IA – IA18001MF Not Pre-Verified.

The earlier 2022 USATF Championships;

February 26th: Masters 5 km in Atlanta, GA – GA21035WC Not Pre-Verified,

March 20th: Masters Half Marathon in Syracuse, NY – NY22005DNB Not Pre-Verified,

April 3rd: Masters 10 Mile in Sacramento, CA – CA22009TEB Not Pre-Verified,

April 24th: Masters 10 km in Dedham, MA – MA13006JK Not Pre-Verified,

May 7th: Open Half Marathon in Indianapolis, IN - IN15012TDK Not Pre-Verified,

May 14th: Open 25 km in Grand Rapids, MI – MI22009MN Pre-Verified,

May 21st: Masters Mile in Rochester, NY – NY22016DNB Not Pre-Verified,

June 4th: Women’s 6 km in Canton, OH – OH21002MW Not Pre-Verified,

July 16th: Open 8 km in Kingsport, TN – TN19003DR Not Pre-Verified.

Should the RRTC be actively talking with the various USATF LDR Committees about the necessity for pre-verification of Championship Road courses?  Are the various LDR Championship selection committees aware of the pre-verification requirement?

Of the 40 Verified Passed courses, 2 are calibration courses.  7 courses were pre-verified in 2022 and 11 in 2021.

There are 72 current USA World Athletics (WA) Measurers, 43 grade B and 29 grade A.  One measurer is listed from Canada, Bernie Conway.  Not sure how many WA measurers are active.  I know of one on the list who hasn't measured since 2014.  There a few who haven't measured since 2017.  Grade A measurers are necessary in pre-verifying road courses.  Why are there so few WA grade A measurers?  It might be advantageous to award more WA grade A measurers to conduct and increase required pre-verifications.

WA grade A measurers could make pre-verification a simple addition to the normal certification measurement process.  Pre-verification is not only important for USATF Championships, but also for all those half and full marathons, prize money races and fast PR courses.  Mark Neal could certainly speak to the pre-verification process having recently done so for the USATF 25 km Championships for the River Bank Run in Grand Rapids.   Justin Kuo or Dave Rogers might also add their thoughts on pre-verifying courses in 2022.  Justin pre-verified the B.A.A. 5 km in Boston and Dave did both the Chessie 10 km & Half Marathon in Lexington, VA.

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