Beginners and Beyond


Would you run a Half Marathon (or other race distances) knowing that the course length has been questionable in past years? (Read 431 times)


    I am filling out my 2013 race schedule and have a decision to make about a half marathon I have run for 2 years now. Numerous factors go into race selection. A few that come to find are:

    * Driving distance from my house

    * Scenic course

    * Reviews by other runners

    * Hotel near the start line (destination races)

    * Bling

    * Potential for an FE

    * Course certification

    * Food and drink in the area (destination races)


    One of my late fall races has a certified course, but it is dubious at best. Running through an unmarked stadium parking lot, numerous cones for turn-a-arounds, odd side street turns, 4 different out&backs, etc. Both years the course has registered 0.2 miles short on my Garmin (and many others). There are a variety of potential explanations for this ... and a short course is one of them.


    Would this deter you from running this race? Would the potential of a faux PR make you search out a replacement race? There are many positives to this race and I love the city it is held in, but I will probably not run this race again until race reviews indicate that the course issue has been settled.



      I'm still pretty new to racing, but I would say that if it's a certified course, that's about all you can hope for. 


      I had a short course for my Thanksgiving 5k, it was very frustrating, especially when no one would own up to the course being short, they finally said that it might have been 100ft short, which was bs, because everyone was about 2mins faster than they should have been (I finally got someone at the LRS to admit that they figured it was only about 2.8 miles).  But it wasn't a certified course, they said they're going to get it certified for next year. 


      My running blog

      Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon


      Jess runs for bacon

        I can't stand races with lots of cones and out and backs anyway, so no.



        Go figure

          Short or not, I'd be skipping a course that had numerous cones for turn arounds and multiple out and backs! As for the question, if I had an explicit time goal for a distance like you appear to, I'd find a different race.

          Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn

          100K or Bust - Busted

            I could live with a 5K course being questionable or short, but not a HM. Too much time and effort goes into a HM and I don't venture beyond 5K that often to risk a short course (or long).

            2017 Goals: for races not to be exercises in futility



              There have been stories of short courses but on a certifeid course, they usually take the shortest possible route when measuring it, then add a bit to it.


              As to the question of would I run it, if it was a course that I felt got the best of me before, sure.


              Can you post the course or link to it?


                It is frustrating because the race has other positives to balance out the cones and out&backs. Also, the course may indeed be 13.1 miles. The layout makes it impossible to know for sure and the fact that I set a PR on a hilly course (including a big bridge) has me scratching my head.


                I have a replacement race in mind, but it is 2 hours further from my house. A PR is just a number, but it is an important number to me (maybe I need to get out more Smile ). I have time to decide about 2013, but I will probably pass on this race until the course changes for the better.


                  LRB ... here is the race page that includes a link to the MapMyRun course map. Mile 1 and 13 are both run through an unmarked stadium parking lot and the race has many tight turns in the downtown Annapolis area.




                    I wouldn't sign up for a HM race that goes through a parking lot & has multiple out-&-backs.  That said, if it were a nicer laid out course, I'd forget about the questionable 0.2 since the marathon distance has changed throughout history & the course is certified.

                    Butter Tart

                      I might run it anyway if it was only a 5K, but definitely not a HM. An accurate course is the most important thing, more important than being scenic, having a nice medal, good food, etc.



                        Wow, that thing reminds of the mouse trap game we played as kids! 

                          I agree with George.  For a local 5K, I'm always pleasantly surprised when the distance does turn out to be reasonably close to 5,000 meters.  A half marathon though involves a much higher race fee, a focus of training leading up to the race, and at least two weeks of recovery after the race.  That's too much investment for me to run a questionable course unless it's a trail race.  With trail races, I understand that the distances are always approximate.

                          Short term goal: 17:59 5K

                          Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

                          Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).


                          Barking Mad To Run

                            Depends on the course.  If it's a nice course with lots of scenery and a fun event that has lots of post-race goodies and so forth, yeah,  I still might run it.  Matter of fact, I have done that for one particular local event of mine for a few years.  It's supposed to be a 4-miler but for some reason every year they do it, the distance is always a tad longer than 4 miles, 4.4 one year, 4.1 one year, 4.3 another year, and so forth.  But it's a very nice course, and they put on a good post-run spread and they have all kinds of door prizes, so I just keep on doing it, even though it's advertised as a 4-miler, but almost always never is.

                            "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt


                              Yeah, depends on the course/race (is it pretty? is it fun?) and the price.  If I go into something knowing it is probably short, then I probably won't care as much that it is short and I just won't count it as a PR.  Yes, lots of work goes into preparing for a half, but I just wouldn't make it my GOAL half.  One can recover quickly enough from a half to have another goal race a few weeks later.


                              But if it is spendy and the course is otherwise bleh, no thank you.


                              Also, maybe, if proceeds go to a cause that is meaningful to me.



                                LRB - I LOVED mouse trap!


                                I race to get faster and set PRs, so if I really thought the course was short I probably wouldn't. Short courses irritate me because it is really not that hard to accurately measure a course. Also all the out and backs would irritate me as well. 


                                Then again it would depend on some other things too..if it was cheap and a pretty course and had a good cause behind it, then I might still do it just for fun.  If you really like the race you could always do it just as a fun race and pick another one as your goal race.