October 30, 2008

Detroit Half Marathon Frustration

The following is a quote from marathonguide.com about the 2008 Detroit Marathon (err.. half Marathon). Anyway, this poster voiced my own frustration perfectly and more "eloquently" than I ever could. Keep in mind that overall, I had a good experience. It was still fun besides the crappy start. I still managed a PR of 1:42:28, despite not being able to run my own pace continuously until about mile 7. I do wonder what my time would have been if I could have run my own pace from the start. I bet I could have beaten 1:40 which was my unspoken goal.

I did read somewhere that the "split start" they did this year was only because of construction on the bridge. I still think the split start did more harm than good. Get all the racers of the same pace out together and they will all hit the bridge together, then even if there is a bottleneck, at least you are bottlenecked with faster people in front of you instead of walkers and slow marathoners! Anyway, here's Ronald's post:

"Does this sound like a good idea?

Have the marathoners and walkers line up on one side of the street and the half marathoners line up on the other.

Start ALL of the marathoners and ALL of the walkers. Now you have over 12,000 runners on the course.

Five minutes after the marathon and walkers' starting gun, start the 6,000 half marathoners. Of course, the walkers have barely cleared the starting line by that point.

So all the half marathoners have to run through the walkers and slower marathoners who are already on the course.

If that's not bad enough, add a course that funnels down to ONE LANE for about half a mile over the Ambassador Bridge.

What do you get? Complete chaos for the half marathoners.

As one of the faster half-marathoners, I had to run through all the walkers not to mention every single marathon pace group (I probably passed through ten). Each pace group was a "choke point" on the course as numerous runners crowded around the pacer. Good luck getting by, especially when they were going through two-lane streets in the neighborhoods or even the wider streets of Windsor or the tunnel.

People were actually forced to WALK approaching the Ambassador Bridge with too many runners trying to access just one lane. Add the faster half-marathoners trying to get through the marathoners and walkers (who, remember, started first) and it was just a complete nightmare.

Sure, accepting a zillion runners into the field makes lots of money for the race organizers (especially since they got rid of the Ford Field finish, which the runners loved but which also cost lots of money).

Race organizers need to think about the runners who train SERIOUSLY for months, only to be unable to run their pace because the race organizers have totally screwed thing up.

Come to Detroit for a "fun run." Don't bet your fall training on it."

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