Wednesday, May 04, 2011


This probably won't help my popularity index any, as if I had one. But here are some things that sort of get under my skin.

Inaccurate race courses. Early spring is 5K season, and the number of these has doubled or tripled in the past year or two. There is one at least every week. However, other than a few exceptions (Chena River Run, Water Run, Independence 5K and Labor Day 5K) the local courses are rarely accurate. At the very least go out there and measure the damn thing with a Garmin. Better yet, get it certified. People like to have accurate times and that doesn't happen often enough here.

T-shirts like a billboard. This is not just a local issue, it happens everywhere, but I've never seen anything like this year's Chena River Run t-shirt. They put in all this effort to make nice shirt design on good tech material but the back of the shirt has something like 40 or 50 sponsors. How about one or two main sponsors, which you put on the sleeve and leave the rest blank? List your sponsors on the brochure. I'm not keeping my shirt this year, that's for sure.

Endless track meets. There are much bigger meets in the Lower 48 (Drake Relays, Penn Relays, Stanford Invite last weekend) with thousands of athletes participating in the time that it takes an Interior meet with maybe 200 runners. The officials are taking way too much time between heats and events.

A chute for middle distance races? I've never seen it anywhere else. But the other week I did see a couple incidents where a lapped kid got cut off by the rope and pylon, so they had to duck to run through. And one girl, after a strong finish, ran into the pylon and off the track (into a foot of ice cold water). Seriously you don't need a chute for a track race. But if we insist on a chute place it another 10 meters back from the finish line and so runners don't have to veer off into lane 2-3 before they finish, and runners won't crash into pylons and ropes. A simple fix.

Automatic timing. Well I guess it's accurate but it adds between 0.3 or 0.4 to times. My son ran 5:00.2 officially the other day, while everyone else who timed him (4 people I talked to) had him in under 5. (actually automatic timing is probably for the better, but still working out the kinks here).

Not enough 10Ks, and no 15Ks or 10 milers. Unless you want to drive 200 miles each way to Tok (Tok Trot in mid-April), or if you're slow (Back to the Pack 10K), or don't care about 10K times at all (Run Lulu Run on a hilly course), the Midnight Sun Run is it. And we have no mid/long distance races (12K, 15K, 10 mile, 20K) on an accurate road course. I'd develop/direct some of these but with the xc series coming up plus volunteer/coaching help I don't have a lot of free time.

No spring track for middle schoolers. I made a big fuss about this last year, as did many other parents, but the Activities Directors from the local schools just lent a deaf ear. Once again, dumb call.

Tamara and I have initiated Fairbanks Youth Track (FYT) this year, but we're a shoestring mom and pop organization. We have about a dozen kids, so off to a good start, but just two years ago there were 150 to 200 local kids participating in spring track. The decision to make middle school track a fall sport effectively killed it. Particpation is down by 2/3 or more, and the meets are poorly administered. For example, last fall the 4X400 relays were run in lanes the entire way, with no stagger, so the kids in lanes 2 and 3 ended up running an approximate extra 30 and 70 meters respectively. What's up with that????

My own limitations in the aerobic/political organizer game. I'd love to shake things up, make some changes. But I'll probably never be on a board. I'd rather visit the dentist. Although sitting through a 2 or 3 hour board meeting might not be as arduous as a colonoscopy, and all the rigamorole that proceeds it, I just don't have the patience and political acumen to sit through hours of decision making. Simply put, I'd rather be freezing my tail off timing kids in a workout, or teaching them the finer points of high knee drills, or setting up my own vision of a race series.

Looking forward to the fall XC series, but have to get on going on that!


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