Friday, December 12, 2008

Over Saturation of Road Races

The Running Journal arrives at my doorstep once per month and I quickly devour the contents. Specifically, I enjoy reading the articles from the contributing writers. One of the contributing writers for the Running Journal is Cedric Jaggers. Unlike my writings, Cedric's columns are always well thought out.

In the December issue of the RJ, Cedric touched on a topic of which I have been following at a distance. In Cedric's article, he noted that he had seen the softening of race times in many races. And that many of those times were slower than he and his wife's PRs. From this point, Cedric took the rest of his column to explain how inducing some speedwork into our workouts might just improve some of these slow race times.

While I agree with Cedric comments. Adding speedwork would be the right step to improve any one's race times and ultimately, the winning times in road races.

However, as I look as this issue, I took a different perspective on it.

Well, let me back up for a second. When I took my first pass at exploring the topic on slowing race times, I took this to mean there are too many road races. And to some extent this is still a true statement. It seems that every organization in America is looking to raise money for their efforts and they see having a 5k road race as the fastest and easiest way to do it. Or at least that is the way that it seems.

But the great thing about being a lonely long distance runner is that it gives you plenty of time to focus one topic and totally explore that topic while on the run.

This morning I went for an 18 mile run so I had ample opportunity to mull over this topic. Mulling it over indeed, I reasoned that it was not so much that the market was over saturated with road races, but that certain weekends were over saturated with races.

During the past year, I know of multiple weekend here in Charlotte where there were 2,3, or 4 races. And I believe at least a few weekends where there were as many as 5 races.

5 races with in the Charlotte area on the same day. Should anyone expect anything other than there to be a softening of race times. With this many race, Charlotte's running scene is just not big enough to adqueately support all of them.

What really puzzles me, is why do these organizations insist on holding their race on the same date when they are competing against so many other races. I mean, they several things they can do to avoid these overlaps. The least of which is to check with Run For Your Life or Queen City Timing. Either of the entities could direct the organization to a better race date.

I guess maybe the race organization thinks or believes they know better than anyone who will show up for their race. But if they would just listen and take some sound advice, they might find the turnout for their race improves which benefits everyone.

But what can you do. It goes back to that old adage "you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink". From a runner's perspective, we can make our selves available and provide input to these organizations. I know Tim R. does because I have asked him about it. But then they have to listen. In the end, their failure to take good advice only ends up hurting the funding for their organization and probably the ending of the race as well. I guess on the positive side, there will be 5 new races to replace those that go under.

(subject to further editing)

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