Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Spirit of racing and competition

After the Beach Blast 5k this Saturday, I was talking with the top Grand Masters runner and the topic of chip vs. gun time came up.
He was telling me that he has lobbied successfully for the USAT&F to allow prize money payouts to be based off of the chip time rather than the gun time.
He went on to share his reason behind lobbying for this change.
During the Wrightsville Beach Marathon he was placed in a starting corral well back of the starting line. Thus, he didn’t have an opportunity to start with the other runners racing for the USAT&F-NC prize money.
I have run enough races to understand his concerns. At the same time, I do not agree with his argument for two reasons.
First, by allowing chip time to be used, I could literally start anytime during race as long as I finished early enough to be scored in the awards. This also means that while everyone else starts from standing position, I could potentially do a running start. The mat just registers that I have crossed it. There’s no knowledge of how fast I am running at the time.  Think about the difference in time need to go from standing to 5:30 pace. Then, think about hitting the mat while already running at 5:30 pace. It could literally mean several seconds in time saved. We all know that even one second can mean a lot during a race.
My second reason goes to the spirit of racing and competition. When I run a race, I want to know that I am racing the guy next to me for a position in the race. Chip time allows someone race the race differently. There is no end to the ways that a runner could twist this ability. Runners possibly use a larger field to spur them along or shield them from the wind on a windy day – just to name a few. The thing is that he could beat me but we never actually race together. If we were racing together, there is a possibility that I would have raced differently. Maybe I would have lost to him, but at the same time, I could have beaten him. Using chip times to score this race makes this scenario not only possible but probable.
In my opinion, races should not score the overall finish positions for race based on chip time. Technology advances are great, but let’s keep this one pure and stay with scoring races by “gun time”
 
Sharing one thought at a time,
The Cool Down Runner

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