Are we sacrificing Safety for Medals?

Last weekend there was a race here in our area called the Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Race.  They actually had three races, a 1mile, a 5K, and a half marathon, I believe.  This was the inaugural race for the company organizing the event but I had heard a lot about it through many of the runners that I know and it sounded like a cute event.

Mermaid Race

But then Hurricane Irma happened and I wondered if they still planned on hosting the event because last year when we were expecting a bad storm at the time of the Clearwater distance classic, they cancelled it, and that was just a storm.

I didn’t hear anything else about the race so I assumed they cancelled it and then a few days later I started to hear from people who had indeed ran it.  It hadn’t been cancelled but it had been a disaster.  I assumed that the complaints were due to the fact that it was a new race and the organizers were unprepared for all of the entrants and with the hurricane they probably had a lot of support that didn’t show up, and that’s the excuse they used, but that’s not the full story.

What disturbed me the most was hearing that the runners had to run across one of the most dangerous roads in the area at crosswalks across 8 lanes of traffic!  This was not a closed course at all.  If you aren’t familiar with our roadways, that stretch of highway, US19, is part of the same stretch that was included in the Dateline NBC Study which named it the most deadliest road in America, because of the number of pedestrian related deaths, making it the worst road to walk on, bar none.

When the kid was younger, if he ever took the bus to school, he was never allowed to walk anywhere near US19, ever. Period.  It was a rule he was familiar with he would use it to his advantage by getting off the bus way before it ever arrived at US19 and calling me to pick him up, at the mall or somewhere else he wanted to go, but I digress, the point is US19 is not a road to walk, or run on, unless it’s closed.

I wasn’t surprised that the people who ran that race were pissed and I was thinking to myself there’s going to be some backlash over this.  There was.  Runners World actually caught wind of it and published this article.

Funny running sign

Here are my thoughts and keep in mind, I didn’t run this race but I have run many inaugural races and a lot of them have had some issues with not enough food at the finish or not enough volunteers on the course and so on.  Fortunately the race directors have always been more than willing to listen to the criticism and try to improve the race for the next year and in most cases they made it even better in the following years.

However, in the case of this race it seems to me that the race directors completely disregarded the safety of the runners.  To allow runners to run along a major highway like US19 without support from the sheriff’s department is insane.  In my mind, they’re just lucky that no one was injured and I’m serious about that.  To have no water along a course, especially a half marathon, or to provide water and no cups is unconscionable.  You sold out a race so you are fully aware of the amount of runners that you have, there is no reason for you not to have an ample amount of cups.  This is Florida and it’s humid and hot and when you are running in those conditions you are sweating and you need to hydrate.  Water should always be provided during a race.

I am also concerned about the rumors of the lack of any medical support.  If that was the case, that is unacceptable.  In at least 10 of the half marathons that I’ve run I’ve seen someone carted off in an ambulance.  Granted, I’ve run races where no one was injured but preparation is key and any good race director knows that.  And as if all of the support wasn’t bad enough, the timing wasn’t correct for most of the course so a lot of people had no idea what their finish times were.

But the reason I felt so compelled to write this, the reason that I got so mad when I heard about it and when I read about the experience that some of the runners had was that I wondered if it isn’t because of our quest for the bling that determines why we run a race.  Have we become so enamored by the medals that the allure of them determines whether or not we run a race?  Whether or not we run a challenge and take on all three distances?  Do some race directors put on races focusing on the medal rather than the safety of the runners as a priority?  Was this the case with the mermaid race?

I’ve read a lot of reviews where people talked a lot about the online course support and the after party and medals but not the actual course and maybe I’m old school but that’s one of the first things I look at.   I want to know about the elevation, the exposure, the terrain, whether it’s an out and back or if we’ll be taking buses and most importantly, is it a closed course.  I study the course, and sometimes I go run it beforehand.  If I would have read that this race was to be run alongside US19 and even across it, I would have never run it and I’m really surprised that it was sold out.  I mean, granted, I love me some mermaids and I love Weeki Wachee but I would have never run any of the three races based solely on the course.   I just wonder how many people actually ran it and didn’t know about the course or maybe they were from out of the area and weren’t familiar with US19 or how many people ran because they really, really wanted the medals?

Have you ever ran a race because you just really wanted the medal?  Be honest, there’s no judgement here.

 

 

WTF Wednesday, runners should not die during races, period.

Arthur Knochenhauer was just shy of his 81st birthday.  He was a retired veterinarian who only began running at the very young age of 72.

This past weekend he competed in the Michelob ultra Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon.

He did not finish.

Arthur Knochenhauer

He was struck down by a BMW who crossed over the blocked off course and Mr. Knochenhauer later died at the hospital.

WTF?  What is wrong with people?  Clearly the course was marked.  I cannot for the life of me imagine what on earth would prevent someone from seeing the obstacles blocking the roadway, or the runners on the course, or the spectators holding signs.  What would cause a person to be so careless?  WTF?

My heart just aches for this man’s friends and family.  God bless him and may he rest in peace.

Winners who cheat and lying fitbits, think about it Thursday.

I didn’t run this morning.  I did go for a 5 mile walk but I just didn’t feel like running and that’s okay because sometimes you just don’t feel like running.  I think there’s a part of me that might be a little afraid of running hard or running long because I’ve really become fearful of the migraines.  I just hate them and until I figure out the source of them or how to stop them, I’m erring on the side of caution.

I love to be outside first thing in the morning though so a walk is perfect and it helps me keep those steps up on the fitbit.  Since Mom has been here and we’re on a weight loss kick we’ve been trying to keep our steps way up there.  I’ve been pretty successful or so I thought until I saw this article.

lying fitbitI knew my fitbit wasn’t too terribly accurate because I wore it with my Garmin so I could compare and while the discrepancies weren’t significant, they were definitely noticeable.

Walking, rather than running, is definitely helping me stay hydrated which has been an issue in the past for me.  It’s a lot easier to keep up with fluid intake with walking, for me anyway.  I have been making more of an effort lately after seeing this article.

lack of water

You can click here to read the article.

How many of you do squats on a regular basis?  I love squats.  Last year I did that 1,000 squat challenge and I nailed it but I was sore for days.  I was wondering the other day if I actually have the fitness level to do that now and I was looking for the challenge when I came across this article.

booty

big, big, booty but you got a big booty….

I don’t think I could rock that kind of booty or even a Kardashian booty.  I think it would get in my way but God bless em for being able to.

And the last thing I want you to think about today is this article.  It’s about runners like Lilian Mariita from Kenya who came to this country to win races and help support her family both here and in Kenya, until she was banned for 8 years, for doping.

Lilian Mariita

These are runners who participate in races large enough to offer substantial prize money yet small enough that they don’t have to typically worry about drug testing.  The article is also about the woman who seems to be at the center of this controversy, former elite Russian athlete Larisa Mikhaylova.  I got really pissed reading this article but I’d like to know what you think.

And that’s it, things to think about on Thursday.

Have you read anything recently that made you think about it long after you finished?