Monday, April 1, 2013

Race Scheduling

I think it is awesome that more and more people are running, hiking, riding bikes, doing obstacle course races, triathlons, etc. While most of America is getting fatter, at the same time time many are getting fitter. Any Saturday anywhere in Oklahoma, you can run a race within a short driving distance of where you live. On April 6th alone (this next Saturday) there are 19 races listed on OK Sports and Fitness's Calendar. Skip ahead a couple of weeks to April 20th, and there are 26 races within 150 miles of Tulsa. When I started running 11 years ago, I could find a 5K to run on most Saturdays. Today, there are often four or more four races in the Tulsa area. This IS a good thing. You cannot run them all, although there are a few hearty 5K warriors who try, sometimes running as many as three races in a single day.

The purpose of this post, while not really complaining, is to suggest race planners (myself included) TRY to check the race calendars before planning a race on a particular day. When there are three races all in the Tulsa area at the same time, the attendance of all of the races is affected. I am fully aware that the Race Director of first race scheduled is not the one to be criticized, but feels the hit when two more races are stacked right on top his/her event. And I am also completely understand that there is often no way conflicts like this can be avoided. Of course two races--one in Tahlequah for example, and one in Sapulpa might vie for a few of the same runners, but neither suffer much a drop in attendance due to the distance between the towns. A trail race in Stillwater, a stair climb race in Tulsa, and a half marathon in Jenks--all on the same day will all lose a few attendees because of being on the same day. If they were on different days, some people (like me) would do all three. And--I know that these scheduling conflicts are sometime unavoidable, but if they WERE unavoidable by consulting a race calendar first, everyone would benefit.

I love trail races. I am RD or co-RD for six different trail races. I have held Lake McMurty 50K/25K/12K on a day that conflicted with the Rockin' K 26.2M/50M in Kansas--and felt bad about it--so I am guilty as charged. In Madill OK, the Dan Man recently revived their awesome event, and moved it from early February to this weekend. There will be some of our group there instead of LMTR, and many will not make Dan Man because of our running LMTR. Could some of this have been avoided? Maybe.

I was excited to learn of the inaugural Prairie Spirit 100 on March 23rd--but it was on the same day as the Snake Run. GRRR!! Fortunately I was able to move the Snake Run back a week ('cause I wanted to RUN Prairie Spirit!) to March 16. But wait!~~ March 16th was the St Patty's 5K, one in which RunnersWorld is heavily involved, and a LOT of our local runners participate in it (green beer--DOH!!) So, for this year, the Snake Run was held on a Sunday instead of the usual Saturday--ironically on March 17th St Patty's Day!! We celebrated with green Snake Run Shirts. Another example that I learned of just tonight--a Fat Ass event at Lake Carl Blackwell--the Churn and Burn 13.1/26.2/50K which is scheduled the same day at the 3 Days to 100K. I would do both if they were on different weekends, and I am sure there are many more like me,

Race planners could actually have better turnouts having their races on days other than overcrowded Saturdays. Friday nights are a good choice. Sunday mornings or afternoons are also good. There are even a few midweek evening runs during the summer months that have good attendance--possibly better than if they had been one of several races held at the same time on a Saturday morning. The most popular months for races are April/May and September/October. Usually, a race held in December/January or July/August has a better chance of not having other nearby races stacked on top of it.

Again--I don't mean this to sound like a bitch session. If RDs check the upcoming race calendars before announcing a date for a new race or moving an existing race, and as much as possible schedule in a way avoid conflicts, we'll all be better for it--RDs and ambitious runners alike.

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