Monday, April 2, 2012

I Want to Love it, but I Don't

I'm sitting here in my race t-shirt from this weekend's race.  I was going to write about my 18ish miler after I finished it, but I was too angry to be articulate about it, so I waited.

First, the nitty gritty on the run itself.  I ended up just shy of 17 miles, which was mostly me just being cranky and wanting a sandwich.  I think my mistake was stopping to pee and spending a little too much time waiting for a stall to open up before just hitting the port-a-john, also chit-chatting with a fellow participant a little too long at the Gatorade water table.  By the time I got moving again, I was sort of over it.

Overall, I felt great.  I ran to the start of the race, chatted with a friend beforehand, ran the race (which is a course I train on's hilly, but pretty, and there weren't any surprises on race day), chatted with a stranger afterwards and bopped on home.  If I had any physical complaints, it was that the arms/shoulders/core workout I did with my trainer on Friday was very intense and my triceps were screaming by the end of the whole deal.  My legs were fine, my pace was very easy, and I was happy with 3:09 for 17 miles, considering it took me 3:15 to do 16 two weeks ago.  Amazing what a 20 degree temperature difference can do!

Now.  The race itself.  The race in question is the Dick Lytie Spring Classic.  This was my second year doing this race.  It's small and locally run by a sports store a few miles from my house.  The route starts at Shorewood golf course on the UWGB campus and winds around the roads surrounding my neighborhood.  It's a hilly, sometimes very windy course that is challenging even for experienced runners.  This year the event added a 9 mile run to the usual 3 miler and half marathon.  It was also on the Prevea training calendar this year (9 miles for the halfers and 13.1 for the marathoners).  Last year I did the half just to do it.  I was all half crazy last year.  This year I thought doing a half in the midst of my 18 miler was a great way to avoid carrying water (and it was).  I ran to the start, and ran home.

First, a couple of points about this race.  These are not critisisms, just info for anyone unfamiliar with it.

1.  There is no swag bag.  You get a number, a decent cotton t-shirt, and some coupons for the store that runs the event that are only good on race day.  The race fee is only $20, so it's a bargain for a supported race.

2.  There are no port-a-johns on the route.  There are a couple of businesses and a church that won't beat you for pit-stopping, but you're out of luck if you need to pee at a water stop.

3.  It's an extremely small field.  This year there were only 201 people in the half.  Last year there were 250, but I think the addition of the 9 miler shifted the balance.

4.  There is no day-before packet pick-up.  Race day only.

Now, my issues with this race.

 I went to the sponsor store (InCompetition Sports) a couple of days before and asked about early pick-up since I was running in and out.  The owner told me "Just ask them to hold the t-shirt until the end, that shouldn't be a problem".  Apparently it was a problem.  The lady at the table said she had nowhere to hold the shirt, and I would just have to find a place to stash it.  So I found a place.  In a tree a few yards down the trail I would be taking home.  After the race, I saw people picking up their shirts inside.  It seems I wasn't the only one who ran in and ran out.  I was peeved.  Not as peeved as I would have been if it had been raining, but peeved.

The race is a small field.  I know this. It's also generally a fast field. Last year I finished 230ish out of 250ish finishers with a 2:17.  After I finished, I went inside to use the bathroom and heard one of the race officials say "We're going to do awards, since evereryone should be off the course by now."  Seriously?  At the 2:20 mark, everyone should be off the course?  I have no issue with a race doing awards whenever they want.  I'm used to finishing long after the awards are handed out (why should a dude that finished in 1:05 wait for me to finish at 2:30?), but that attitude rankled.  Did she have to make that announcement that way?  And did the people in the warming house have to laugh?  It made me feel embarrassed and excluded...and I WAS off the course then.  20 odd people weren't.

This year, I finished 194 of 201 in 2:21 and change.  I was not last.  So here are my questions:

1.  Why were the people at the intersection I had to cross to get back onto campus so surprised to see me? 

2.  Why were there no volunteers pointing the way at the turns on the course past the 5 mile mark? If there weren't enough volunteers (totally possible at a small race), why were there NO SIGNS?  Tiny pink arrows painted on the road with no other markings are not an adequate way to mark a race course.  I know this course like the back of my hand, and it was hard for me to see the markings.  Campus was the worst.  The racecourse through campus winds quite a bit and is crisscrossed by paths and side roads and driveways.  There was NO INDICATION of where to go.  I was running completely on memory.  A woman a couple of minutes behind me told me that she had to try to keep me in sight so she would know where to go.

3.  There was no one from the race AT ALL between mile 11 and the warming house.  This includes the finish line.  That's right.  There was not one single solitary race official at the finish line.  There was the clock, and a boom box, and that was it.  Nothing says "Hey, slowpoke, we could care less if you finish" like a complete lack of race staff at the finish.  I don't need a cheering crowd, but there wasn't one person who could man the table?

4.  Why was there no water at the finish?  You had to go all the way up to the clubhouse to get water and Gatorade.  Oh, and they were out of Gatorade.  It's not a mile to the clubhouse or anything...but really?  No table with water?  Out of Gatorade less than 2:30 after the start gun?

My overall impression of this race after running it two years in a row is that it is cliquey and elitist.  I've done lots of small races of varying distances.  Most of them are very friendly, because more participants means more money raised.  At the worst, small races are kind of clueless, but I've never felt like they were cruel.  At this race I get the impression that they would rather it just be their favorite 100 runners and that the rest of us are just cluttering up the racecourse with our crappy times and pokey bodies. 

I was left feeling sort of empty and worthless as an athlete after the unmanned finish line.  And I was 15.25 miles into an 18 miler at that point.  No one who just put in 15 miles should feel worthless as an athlete!

This was long-winded, but I had a lot to get off my chest.  I won't be doing this race again...and I'm pretty sure I've spent my last dollar at InCompetition (which is a shame, becuse they probably have the best GU/shotblock selection in the city).  If you're extra speedy and want to do this race, I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms.  If you're a 10+ minute miler, skip it. 


  1. You always crack me up... and I agree with you, fudge them!

  2. Oh, that sucks. That really sucks - I would be so pissed. WTF were they thinking not having anyone at the finish line? I get that it's a cheap race, but that is unacceptable. There should be as much support for the last person as for the first. That pisses me off.

  3. Ugh, that's so crappy. I was thinking about running it, but since previous years' results made me think I'd probably be DFL, I didn't. Sounds like I made the right decision.

  4. Wow - obviously they don't want the race to grow! I would agree and cross this off the list of future possibilities.

  5. i hope someone from their organization reads your post - it's really good feedback for them...

  6. Oh my word! You ran all that way and there was no one at the end to cheer you on? I couldn't do a five miler, let alone 18 miles. You're amazing!

    I hope someone from the organisers does see your post. Or have you contacted them some other way?