Do race course directions really help?
We were getting our race instructions just before the start of the Freedom Run 5k, and I could not help but smile. I wanted to relay this story because I found it somewhat humorous, and hopefully, you will as well.
As we lined up for the start, the race director is giving us the rules of the road for his race. Part of his prerace speech included a turn by turn break down of the course. Go straight for two blocks and turn left. Go another 3 blocks and take another left. Go 5 blocks and take a right. Cross over the road and take the city trail. Stay left at the lake and take the right over the bridge. Go up the hill and follow the path around the base ball field. So on and so forth.
Hopefully, you are getting the picture by now. This course had more than a few twist and turns on it. By the time that he finished his description, course sounded like a 5 mile course rather than a 5k course, and I said as much out loud which invoked more than few laughs through the field.
For the local runners, his directions made total sense. I am sure of it. They know the local roads probably by heart. For me, I stopped following after the 3 left turn. I could only hope that they marked the course well.
From my personal experience, I find any directions beyond the course is out and back unlikely to help me later during the race.
Why do race directors often feel the need to do give these turn by turn instructions. I often wonder if it is out some sense that the course isn't marked very well. From a runners perspective, a course should be marked based on the assumption that no one knows it. Better to say look for the signs marked on the road or signs at each turn. Follow the KIS method (Keep It Simple). Runners will follow signs well during the race just don't expect them to think too much along the way.
The Cool Down Runner