Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012: Back to RACING

NOTE: This is an open letter to all of our compatriots in racing.  I hope the members of Howard County Striders, Georgetown Running Company, and anyone else who might read this blog, including, but not limited to Annapolis Striders, Baltimore Road Runners Club, RASAC, Westminster RRC, Montgomery County RRC, Potomac River Running, etc, read this message.

The response that we received from the recent post about the rising cost of race entry fees was emphatic.  It seems that we aren't the only ones who are tired of paying for sub par events.  All we need is a start/finish line, a distance, and a competitive field.  Ed had started the discussion with members of GRC when he met them for a run recently, and also with Carlos, and after a few more emails got circulated, I was overwhelmed by the feedback.

The proposal is this:

1) Create a race series for the year, similar to a Grand Prix or the IAAF's Diamond League Meets.

2) Use pre-existing events that we know people will race already, and supplement by adding our own events, including track meets, cross country meets, and other road races.

3) Scoring tables could be figured out to rank individual leaders, but primarily this would be team-oriented.  It would effectively add team competitions to races that don't already have them.

Most of all, the goal would be to enhance the quality of racing.  Actually make races about the RACE.  There are plenty of very fast events each year that are always going to be competitive, but outside of those, some of the races are either too low-key, or are huge clusters (like most "participation" races).  If you want to be the best, you have to race against the best.  Our ideas have included hosting track meets, rotating who hosts, as well as which events are held; cross country races; road events. 

And really all it takes is coordinating efforts by establishing a schedule of races that would be part of a series.  Races like Shamrock 5k, Cherry Blossom, Pike's Peek, of course would be on there, but then we'd look at including other races that can be agreed upon.  We can make a calendar, and figure out which people will be there.  We can establish a team captain for a given event, and as long as each team submits a roster prior to the event, then we can ensure fair scoring practices!

We also want to incorporate more social elements into the events as well.  Sure, we're all rivals, but it's always fun to socialize and get to meet the people that push you to a great result.  We need to bring racing back, and make it fun. 

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed and appreciated!  And if you have other input, or would like to help and be a part of it, feel free to email me directly (rmcgrath732@gmail.com). 


Christy said...

I think this sounds like a great idea. It would be fun to have more friendly competition and socializing across local running groups!

Dart said...

I concur with Chrissie. I'm willing to help how I can.

What options are there for "free" events? As in not paying for the land we use to race, facilities, traffic control, trash disposal etc.? What about "back or off" the beaten path roads? I have a measuring wheel if we ever decide to lay out a (CC) course.

RM said...

Well, as we found last year with both the Forget Towson 5000m (and 1200m) and the ever popular RM Classic 5k, the track is always our best bet. You know the distance, you can do events that are standardized - 1500m, Mile, 3000m, 2 Mile, 5000m, heck, even 10,000m for Dustin.

Outside of that, you run into situations where closing roads can be more difficult, but obviously not impossible if we are smart about it. Exhibit B is the Stott Annual Olympics, where we used that half-ish mile loop in their neighborhood. If we actually measured the proper distance with a wheel, and then figured out what distance we wanted to do, that's the type of thing where we could race around and have people at the one or two intersections where cars may come through.

For trail purposes, we could really just go down to Patapsco, Greenbelt, wherever, and just accept that there could be other people on the course. I think in many of the Carderock Towpath events in the DC area, it's not like they can close the path to the public, so the race just takes place around them.

These races won't ever be big events, at least I hope not. I can't imagine ever having more than 100 people in any given event.

The same goes for if we want to find a cross country course somewhere, there may be an element of a park fee at some of the parks, but at other places, we could just get it set up.

If we wanted to hold an event in Patterson Park or Druid Hill, since these will barely be events, we could also just show up, do it when we wouldn't expect a huge number of people to be in the park, and just run. We're not going to have numbers, or finish line setups, so nobody will think we're putting on an event anyway.

Dart said...

Looking forward to seeing how it pans out.

Dustin said...

I think our best option for the road is to target popular races, which already attract the regional best, and young and growing events like the Run Geek Run 8K. Ryan, you've explained this well in your original post.

I'm sure our mid-distance crew would love to see a track series, and I'd delight in running competitive track 5000s that don't involve the logistics of college meets. GRC has a mid-summer night's mile; we have the RM Classic; BRRC has an August 5000 that was incredibly deep this past year; we can build upon this schedule by coordinating two or three late winter and spring events. Each "meet" could include three events with some combination of the following: 1500/mile, 800, 5000, 3000/2 mile, distance medley relay, and 4x800. We also can consider less common distances, such as the 1000, 1200, and 2000. I envision a mid-distance event, a "distance" event (5000 or 3000), a relay at each. Given the depth of each club, we potentially can field multiple relay teams and explore the option making some of the relays coed. Presumably, since no one will triple, it would is conceivable to run a primary event and have enough rest to run a relay leg. We'd have to work out logistics to ensure there are enough time between the second event and the relay if we choose my proposed model.

As for XC, I'd love to see a Club Challenge-style XC meet in fall. Since some of our number are high school and college coaches, we may be able to host this event on an existing XC course.

Our next step should be replicating and growing the Forget Towson late-winter meet. Many of us are presently solidifying our spring schedules and registering for races. The sooner we commit to attending or hosting specific events, the more people we will attract and the more enjoyable and successful it will be.

RM said...


BRRC is IN for the series

THE KRIS said...

i like the idea of team competition as i think that it adds motivation (and a bit of excitement) for those of us who aren't usually in the hunt for the individual win.