Sunday, February 10, 2008

Race Notes: Hansel and Gretel Host a Marathon

Did the San Dieguito Half Marathon this morning. My first inkling that this event was a little jacked was on mile 6. The course marshal drove by and said he was doing his last pass through. He asked if I needed anything. That struck me as incredibly strange. I was halfway through the race and on pace to complete within the time frame. Yet, the course marshal - the person responsible for the safety of event participants - is driving off the course.

After mile 9, we never saw another person from the race event staff. This is incredibly, incredibly irresponsible. You have people out there without water available, without anyone to help them if they get hurt. It was a warm day today - not terribly hot, but warm. To have no course support when you know people will need it is a horribly reckless choice.

While we couldn't find anyone from the event staff, we did see some lost participants. The roads there are very winding. At most turns there was some flour used to mark the course direction. However, at some spots the flour was completely gone. This is not surprising considering cars and tons of participants had trampled on the course. There were no signs, no flour and no course staff. We ended up off the course and waving down motorists to get directions back. In total we did about 16 miles - three miles beyond the half marathon total. At the end of the race, I hunted down the race organizer and the course marshal. Steve went to alert the EMTs that there were people lost out on the course.

We found the course marshal in the beer garden. He was happy to tell us that he'd been there for nearly 90 minutes. Good for him, too bad for the competitors that are his responsibility. He saw no need to have volunteers on the last few miles of the course. The course marshal maintains that the course was marked with flour. He neglected to consider that cars and runners may have obliterated the flour markings. Dude, you left the course nearly 2 hours ago. I left it 10 minutes ago. Which one of us is a better judge of its current condition? Flour markings aside, when there is a turn in the course there needs to be a volunteer there to direct people. I've done tons of races in the last year - this is the only one with no marshals or volunteers on the course. Those volunteers don't just provide direction, they also can call for help if it's needed.

I told the marshal that I thought he needed to drive the course and surrounding area to look for participants in trouble. His response, "No, I've been drinking beer. I won't drive." Fine. Get someone - anyone - to go drive the course. In retrospect, we should have gone and driven the course ourselves. We passed quite a few people, but there are 6 people that I'm worried about - a much older man, a guy in his twenties, 2 women who were half running/half walking and two teenage girls. They all looked as though they were struggling. Some of them didn't have full water bottles and were relying on course support. I hope that they all made it safely home.

Race Notes -
  • It was hilly and challenging, but certainly within my abilities. My left hip was a little cranky with all the hills, but I was fine.
  • Nutrition and hydration were good. Used a new electrolyte tab; it was fine.
  • I'll start carrying my own map in case the event staff abdicates responsibility for the safety of race participants.

1 comment:

  1. That is so reckless. someone could have been seriously hurt, dehydrated or had serious breathing issue. Aren't race organizers primarily there for the safety of the racers? That is just bad karma.