Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Getting off course – Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Getting off course in a road race or especially in a trail race can happen. Personally, I can attest to having it happen to me both on the roads and on the trails. By far, my worst experience was running off course during a marathon which may be the worst. No one wants to run extra miles during a marathon.

What got me thinking about this topic was the recent story of Heidi Bretscher’s adventure during this past weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in Raleigh. Somewhere between 18 and 20 miles she missed a turn. This happened to her while she was leading the women’s race. After much discussion between race officials, she was still declared the winner of the race. Even with the off course detour she was still ahead of the second place woman.

Much of the buzz that I have been reading centered on if she should have been disqualified. Fortunately for me, I happen to have a USAT&F rule book handy so I took this opportunity to read up on disqualifications.  

While much of the USAT&F rule book speaks to the track races, I did find a couple of sections which addressed races longer than 20k. A marathon certainly qualifies here.

The first paragraph that might apply speaks to willingly leaving a race and then returning. Based on what I read, Ms. Bretscher wasn’t intending to leave the course. Proof of this could be taken from the fact that her bicycle escorts were just a confused and lost as she.

The second paragraph says that someone may leave the course if escorted by a race official as long as they returned in the same location and finish the race. One would assume that the bicycle escorts could be considered race officials. And, based on the article she returned to the course in roughly the same area that she left it. I don’t know Raleigh all that well so I may be making too many assumptions here but considering she ran extra, I am not going to quiver over if it was the exact spot.

Now, there is some gray area in the article which does cause me to raise my eye brow. The article says that she got a ride back to where she left the course. If she had run back, I certainly would totally be on her side. I got myself off the course. It seems only fair that I get myself back on it.

For purity sake, I believe it would have been better to run back on to the course. Either way, the Rock ‘n’ Roll guys should put an “*” next to her name for this year.

In closing, I do want to say that I give the Rock ‘n’ Roll official major “props” of making it right. They gave her a free entry into any race with travel and lodging and not just a Rock ‘n’ Roll race. In my opinion, this is how you make a bad situation for a race “right”. Kudos to them.


Thoughts from afar,

The Cool Down Runner




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