Race Day Dilemma
This weekend I ran the Hare Racing Experience 5k in Tampa on the University of South Florida’s Campus. It was a tremendously fun experience for a small off road race, but one that left me with a little bit of runner’s dilemma.
I chose this race for all of the obvious reasons. It is extremely close to where I live, my friend Becky was running it and of course it was super cheap at $15 for a 5k. Fifteen is really cheap for a 5k in the Tampa area where most 5k’s cost about $25 . The night before the run I also learned that it was an off-road/cross country style race which was an added bonus. Finally, who doesnt appreciate a good pun titled race?
On race day I was excited to let fly on this course. 5k’s are cool alternatives to the distance tests I usually run. They are all about speed and just letting go. I love the hard heavy breathing and burning sensation in m throat as I reach for the line. On this course it was no different, plus the trail and grass running added a technical side to the course which made passing and pacing a new challenging type experience. If it was a street 5k, I would have been disappointed with anything above 20. This was not a race for that kind of speed for me. I was ecstatic to come in at 21:09, and then to enjoy the well sponsored post race spread of bagels, classic cookies, bananas, and muffins. This is where the dilemma began.
My friends and I stayed for the post race awards. My friend Becky was sure that I had placed in top 3 in the age group I run in. I was not that sure but I know that not that many adults placed ahead of me (The teenagers dusted everyone), so I stayed. When they read the top 3 of my age group (with no times), my name was not mentioned. I was surprised, and disappointed. Seriosuly I was disappointed. It was almost embarrassing. I was disappointed about a measley little 5k? Why? Seriously? Why?
Was it vanity? Well partly. This was a tiny race, and I ran it really well and I really was hoping for some small measure of recognition. When you train that hard, you just want to do well. Pus, with my sister leaving Tampa for Austin this weekend making me feel a little depressed, it could have been a small lift I really needed. Was it accuracy? Somewhat, they announced no times to go with those guys who beat me. As crowded as the small double loop course was, I didnt remember that many people in front of me. What were their times? How much did they beat me by? Was it competiveness? Probably. No one likes to lose and feel mediocre. Especially in an event they should do well in. Yes, I had the personal satisfication of knowing I ran a great race, that I killed that course but still I felt I should place. It was all that with a fair amount of self-confidence doubting that had me leave that race with more than a twinge of disappointment in my stomach
For a while throughout the day, I let it go. I went for a cool down jog elsewhere, and then out to the park and had a tremendous time playing capoeira with my capoeiraista buddies. Something which restored my good mood and had me raising questions in my brain about the results. By the time I got back to my computer, I desperately wanted to see the results again. I had the gut instinct that a mistake had been made.
I was right. The race results as posted on coolrunning.com place me in 2nd place for my age group of 30-34. This was curious, even more curious was that they had isted my time as 21:32. This is some 23 seconds later than I finished. Im not getting the time I had from my Garmin. I am getting it from the clock I saw when I crossed the line. 21:09, my accurate time might have put me in first place overal if the other results were posted correctly. Not only had they failed to announced my name at all, but my place was also in question
I confess to being mildly angry, but I was still torn about what to do next. Yes I knew in my heart of hearts that I had come in either 1st or 2nd in my age group for real and that should have been enough. However the results should be recored accurately (there were no chip times), but did I want to make a deal out of a small 5k and hassle people after a fun race. Did I want to be that guy?
Well, yes and no. On one hand, the race was run by volunteers who did a damn good job for the most part and it was for the really good cause of epilepsy support. Furthermore, I didnt want to create any drama for a race I would gladly run again (and will if I am still in Tampa next year). It was a cheap race adventure, and I was grateful for it. So why be a hater? Fair question, but there are 2 sides to everything, On the other hand, every dollar I spend has value. $15 is $15. I dont have a ton of money so any race I do, I like to race well and competitively. There are no throwaway races for me, no matter how small. I dont have the money for that luxury. So when I pay money for a race, I want the results to be recorded accurately. Like I said , I work hard at my training. Plus, if the reward was a small gift card or gift certificate somewhere , I could honeslty use that. I dont have extra spending cash, and every little bit helps. And if I earned it, I do want it. Yep, I was really torn. I wanted to stand up for myself and my cash, but I didnt really want to be that particular person
Ultimately, my friend Becky told me to write the race director if for no other reason than to let them know there were some flaws in the recording of their race results and that they might want to improve on it. On these auspices, I penned him an email. I emphasized all the positive qualities of what was a super enjoyable race but pointed out the small flaws in the recording problems. I hope it was taken in the helpful spirit it was intended. That is how I am lookig at it, a fun story to tell people about a race I would easily recommend again to any interested runners.
Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0