Friday, September 13, 2013

XC Series 1: Golden Leaf 8K; that was messed up!

You can read about it here in the Fairbanks Daily NewsMiner.

As the one who started this little cross country running series here a couple years ago, I like to have a well marked course so there is no confusion. In fact I take pride in it. Practically nothing is worse in a race (as long as you're not sick or injured) than not knowing which direction you are going. We spent two and a half hours setting up the course on the UAF West Ridge trails on Thursday afternoon. First I went through and marked the course with white marking paint, and then Tamara and I went through again and delineated turns/direction with red pin flags. All was good by 4 PM, which gave me enough time to reconoiter and get ready for registration, which started at 5, and the 6 PM start.

Being a mid-week race relatively close to the Equinox Marathon it's not easy to attract a lot of racers, but we had 11 adventurous runners sign up for the 8K. I explained the course to each of the entrants and then went over it again right before the start.

For those familiar with the UAF trails the planned route was:

Start at the Timing Hut (octagon) and head west
Turn right on gravel road (south) and then take the right into the "Stadium" (heading east),
Follow the Skaarland Loop for another mile, then a hard left onto Baseline Trail (west)
Baseline to the Gravel Road and turn left (south) to Potato Field
Loop counter clockwise to Potato Field until Midnight Express and run that counter clockiwise
Back onto Potato Field and then to the "Lighted Trail" and up the hill to Big Whizzy
Down Big Whizzy to the connector about half way down, and then across until the connector meets with the commutuer/Equinox trails
Split off those at Calypso and take that up the hill to the old satellite dish and back to the timing hut.

I had every intersection and cross path marked with arrows and flags. No problem, right?


After the start I zipped down on my bike to the Potato Field and saw the lead seven or eight runners go by (led by Max Kaufman who was holding about a 6:15 per mile pace), all looked good. So I rode to the top of big Whizzy and waited a few mnutes. Suddenly the second place runner, Adam Albright, appeared. He'd been doing about 7 minute miles when I saw him, and with less than a half mile to go he was heading to finish, well under 30 minutes. I scrambled back and two more runners came through quickly. They'd only run 4.07 miles, had missed the Midnight Express, and I was baffled.

We waited another 7 or 8 minutes before Max came in, well off the 6:20 pace (or so) I was expecting, even with the big hills on the second half of the circuit. Tales of woe and confusion ensued. (although everyone was in good humor).

When Tamara and I finally got out there after the racers had finished we found that a row of pin flags in the Potato Field had been moved. At the lower end of the the Potato Field I had blockd off the access to Smith Lake and the "Diagonoal" section that leads back to the top of the Potato Field instead of following the outside of the loop, which would lead to Midnight Express, some 50 or 60 meters later.

Someone had moved the flags! Now why would anyone do that!??? I don't think it was malicious, nor do I believe someone was innocently trying to help out. More at the level of a childish prank.

Lesson learned, I need more help putting on these races and we need a forerunner on a bicycle. Someone who is familiar with the course and can fix things. That said, I've never ever seen this happen in a race.

The best I can say is sorry runners.

So,here are the results:

4.07 miles
Adam Albright 27:21
Charlie Parr 28:03
Austin Johnson 28:27
Elizabeth Cogan 48:04

5.1 to 5.4 miles

Max Kaufman 35:42
Anna Worden 40:43
Nick Konefal 41:49
Jane Lanford 42:36
Dan Bishop 42:44
Dan Callahan 42:51
Lee Kenaston 47:59

Based on where people were when they went through at 2.4 miles and at the finish
1. Max Kaufman (6:30s pace)
2. Adam Albright (6:43 pace)
3. Charlie Parr (6:55 pace)
4. Austin Johnson (6:59 pace)
5. Nick Konefal (8:00s pace)
6. Dan Bishop (8:10s pace)
7. Dan Callahan (8:10s pace)
8. Lee Kenaston (8:50s pace)

1. Anna Worden (7:40s pace)
2. Jane Lanford (7:50s pace)
3. Elizabeth Cogan (12 min pace)