Tuesday, July 27, 2010

And we're off to the races...

Looking for a race to run this weekend? Pickings are pretty slim -- I think it's because we're in the heart of vacation season -- but here they are:

Summer Track Meets
What: A "very casual" track meet, open to all ages from youth to masters.
When: Friday. Registration begins at 5 p.m. First running event is at 6:15.
Where: Irwin Belk Track and Field Center on the campus of UNC Charlotte.
Cost: $3.
Of note: Scheduled events are: 50m for kids 8 and under, followed by the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3200, plus 400 and 1600 relays. Field events include hammer, discus, shot put, javelin, pole vault, long jump and high jump. ... This is the final installment of a every-Friday-in-July series that has been plagued by inclement weather -- the first two meets were rained out, and participation last Friday was "extremely low," organizers say. ... Sponsored by the UNCC Charlotte track team coaching staff and the Carolinas Track & Field Club.

Mountaineer 5K
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: North Carolina Research Campus, 201 N. Main St.
Why: Appalachian State University is a participating school at the North Carolina Research Campus.
Cost: $25 until Friday, $30 at the event.
Of note: The certified course starts and finishes near the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory building and runs through the Kannapolis Greenway, Village Park, and part of the Kannapolis Village (view it by clicking here). ... All pre-registered participants will receive a dri-fit T-shirt and a gift bag. ... Yosef, the ASU Mountaineer mascot, will be on hand throughout the event for photographs and the event festivities. ... A one-mile "fun run" will immediately follow the start of the 5K.
Details: Click here.

Marine Mud Challenge
What: The race features a 5-mile course with a variety of obstacles, including mud pits, a low crawl through a pipe and a 5-foot wall.
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Belmont Abbey College, 100 Belmont-Mt. Holly Road.
Why: Proceeds will go to the families of wounded sailors and Marines at Camp Lejeune.
Cost: $25 per person, and competitive teams must have four members ($20 each for military, media and public service personnel). Fun runners pay $15 apiece.
Of note: Organizers say this type of event simulates the training U.S. Marines complete on a weekly basis. ... Last year, about 600 people competed in the event. ... For the fun run, teams can be any size, as long as it consists of an even number of runners.
Details: Click here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

And we're off to the races...

Looking for a race to run this weekend? You've got three choices, and here they are:

Run For Your Life Run For Your Cause 4-Miler
What: 4-Miler and 1K Run.
When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday (1K is at 8:30).
Where: Run For Your Life-Dilworth, 2422 Park Road.
Why: In 2009, the inaugural Run For Your Cause event selected two beneficiaries; this year, it's working with three: the Alzheimer's Association, Lois' Lodge, and RHA Howell.
Cost: $25 in advance, $35 on race day. Cost for the 1K is $10.
Of note: The course isn't particularly hilly, but it's not flat, either. The first leg -- McDonald to Euclid -- is a gradual, steady climb. Then there's one last hill on Lyndhurst, a little over half a mile from the finish. It's steep, but (thankfully) short. See the course map here.
Details: Click here.

Run/Walk for the Greenway
What: 5K and half-mile fun run.
When: 8 a.m. Saturday (fun run is at 8:45).
Where: Knox Middle School in Salisbury, on Park Road just off Mahaley Street.
Why: Proceeds will benefit the Salisbury Greenway.
Cost: $20 for 5K if registered by Wednesday; $25 thereafter. The fun run is $5 (goes up to $10 after Wednesday).
Of note: The course only has one hill (about a block long), so is very fast. The finish is on the school's track. ... Special awards commemorate the Greenway, and every runner will get a dri-fit short-sleeve shirt. There will also be door prizes and a large spread of food. ... All fun run participants will receive cotton shirts and medals.
Details: 704-216-2709 or www.salisburyrowanrunners.com.

Live Right 5K & Fun Run
When: 9 a.m. Saturday.
Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Parkway.
Why: The race "is part of a daylong wellness event raising money for those with cancer."
Cost: $35 for either the 5K or the fun run. Kids 11 and younger pay $25 for the fun run.
Of note: On top of the registration fee, the Whitewater Center will charge a $5 fee for parking. ... Organizers will be giving away one Apple iPad for every 50 registered participants.
Details: Click here.

Didn't pay for this race? Then you're a weasel.

Thanks to Peter Asciutto -- the owner of Vac & Dash in Albemarle -- for contributing this op-ed column:

In communities across the country, there are many free events that running stores and running clubs organize for you participate in.

In Albemarle, Vac & Dash and the Uwharrie Running Club organize a laundry list of no-charge events, which are designed to help promote the sport of running and to get a good workout in with a group of like-minded folks.

Races are another matter. As race organizers and race directors, we are responsible for a variety of costs, including paying for T-shirts, awards, food, water, parade permits, insurance, race bibs, safety pins, signage, paint to mark courses, printing of brochures, mailing of brochures, timing fee, advertising and public safety officials.

We expect that everyone who runs our races will pay for them. But it's often not the case.

Therefore, Vac & Dash, the Salisbury Rowan Runners, Uwharrie Running Club and Tour de Kale committee recently adopted a "No Weasel (Bandit) Running, No Bib Swapping Policy." The policy states:

"In an effort to have a race accurately timed and give everyone a fair shot at winning awards, we ask that you do not run in a race organized or timed by Vac & Dash, Salisbury Rowan Runners, the Uwharrie Running Club & Tour de Kale committee unless you are properly registered. This means no bib swapping/transferring or running as a weasel/bandit. (Weasel/bandit running means not registering or paying for the race and purposely running in all or part of the race.) If a runner is being paced by a non-registered runner, the runner is subject to disqualification from the race. Thank you in advance for honoring this request."
The policy addresses two issues: Bib swapping/transferring, and weasel/bandit running. Let me discuss the bib swapping/transfer issue first.

Many times people pre-register for a race, then something comes up, causing them to become a no-show. They then give their race bib to another, so their money doesn't go to waste. People that do this, do so without meaning to cause harm. They figure the race slot was paid for, so what's the big deal? I do want to make the point again, folks that give their race bib to another do so innocently, not realizing the problems it causes.

The immediate problem bib swapping/transferring causes it that it corrupts the database. If a medical emergency would occur, race organizers would not be able to properly identify a runner wearing the wrong race bib or have the proper contact information. Secondly, it can mess up the awards. I've announced the name of many age group award winners who weren't even at the race. Not only is it embarrassing for the person who wasn't at the race, it means that the runner who should have gotten the award gets short changed.

The other issue -- weasel running -- is a completely different issue.

First off, I'm calling it weasel running from here on out and not bandit running because I think the word "bandit" has too cool a sound to it, almost like it's referring to some sort of rebel pulling one over on "the establishment." The establishment, in this case, is volunteers putting on races to raise money for charities. So calling the offending runner a "weasel" seems like a more appropriate term.

Weasel running has been around since I started running in the '70s. I always thought is was pretty sleazy for a person to jump into a race without paying for it, but other than that, didn't think much of it.

Over the last few years, as I've helped with race management, timing races, etc., I've witnessed the negative effects weasels have on races. Recently, I've had conversations and communications with weasels, and have read articles, blogs, forums and posts written by weasels and those who support them. Their justifications for jumping into races have not influenced me to change my opinion on the matter. Below are my answers to some of the weasels' comments and questions.

"It's a public road, you can't prevent us from using it."

Running is free. You can do it pretty much anywhere, including public roads. However, that does not give you the right to purposely show up at a scheduled race and run for free when others have paid to participate. If you want to play catch with your buddy, you can do so for free at most public ball fields. However, would you go in the outfield and play catch during a softball tournament? Same with public tennis courts. You can play for free, but would you go out and practice your serve when the high school team has the courts reserved for a match? In Albemarle, we are required to get a parade permit to use the roads for a race. In China Grove and Denton, they close the streets for the race.

"I'm not hurting anyone or taking away from their experience by running as a bandit [weasel]."

So you're saying it's OK to sneak into a movie, remain quiet, leave before the ending and justify your actions by saying that you are not taking anything away from the paying customers movie experience? You may not be hurting the paying customers, but you are stealing from the theater owners. When you weasel into a race, you are stealing from the race directors, volunteers and charities that put on the races. You are getting some sort of value by participating in an event that requires an entry fee.

"Races cost too much, so I pay for some and not for others."

My response to this one may sound cold, but in real life, if money is an issue, then pick the races you really want to run and enter them properly. If you can't afford it, don't participate. Most 5Ks are $15-$20. Marathons are $50-$100. It's no different than deciding if you want to eat in or go out for dinner. Finances are finances.

"I'm not crossing the finish line, so it doesn't impact the results and awards." "It's a chip-timed race, so I can now cross the finish line, since I don't have a chip, I won't impact the results" "I don't drink the water, take an award or T-shirt."

Doesn't matter. Jumping in the race as a weasel changes the dynamics of the race for those that paid to participate. There are also plenty of examples of how weasels have impacted how others have raced.

At the Bunny Run 5K a few years back, a weasel ran off course. The runner following him sped up, ran off course, and chased the weasel down to let him know he was off course. At the Run the Valley 1/2 Marathon last year, a weasel was one of the front runners, then pulled off course just before the end. The runners that finished in second and fourth place said they would have raced differently if they had known what position they were in coming back to Badin. The guy that finished in second had thought he was in third and the guy finishing fourth thought he was in fifth. In both cases, the Weasel changed the dynamics of the race.

It's not just the front of the pack where weasels get in the way. If you did not register for a race, you become an obstacle that a paid runner has to dodge and run around at some point in the race. I know many runners who started with 40-minute 5Ks and have worked hard to get down to below 30 minutes. They don't need weasels in their way either.

"What's wrong with pacing a friend?"

If you pay to participate, then you are part of the race and can pace anyone you want. Jumping in a race to pace a friend for part or all of a race gives your friend an unfair advantage over others. If it were a basketball game, would you be allowed as a spectator to come out of the stands and shoot free throws for your buddy? By eliminating the pacer who did not pay to participate, we are keeping the playing field level for all participants.

According to reports, anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 weasels jump into the Boston Marathon and Chicago Marathon per year. On many blogs and forums, these weasels say, "We don't take any water, and since it's chip-timed and we are not wearing a chip, it doesn't effect the results." When I read those comments, I laugh. They want me to believe they're being ethical about all of this. Makes you wonder how the few thousand weasels contributed the disaster at the Chicago Marathon in 2007, when officials had to stop the race due to running out of water at aid stations. Medical personnel also were tapped out as they treated hundreds of runners for dehydration.

As race organizers, we want to promote the good health, competition and fellowship that the sport of running brings. Hopefully, establishing and publishing this new policy will help the races roll along smoothly.

Peter Asciutto can be reached at peter@vacanddash.com.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And we're off to the races...

Looking for a little competition in the Charlotte area this weekend? You've got plenty of choices, including three events this Friday evening; a swim-run race; and a couple of trail runs. So let's get right to 'em.

Summer Track Meets
What: A "mini track meet," open to all ages from youth to masters.
When: Friday. Registration begins at 5 p.m. First running event is at 6:15.
Where: Irwin Belk Track and Field Center on the campus of UNC Charlotte.
Cost: $3.
Of note: Scheduled events are: 50m for kids 8 and under, followed by the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3200, plus 400 and 1600 relays. Field events include hammer, discus, shot put, javelin, pole vault, long jump and high jump. There also will be similar meets on July 23 and 30. Sponsored by the UNCC Charlotte track team coaching staff and the Carolinas Track & Field Club.

Miles of Mooresville
What: Summer race series, featuring 1-, 2- and 3-mile events.
When: Friday night. One-mile race starts at 7, two-miler starts at 7:20, 3-miler starts at 8 p.m.
Where: Registration opens at 5:45 p.m. at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in downtown Mooresville (North Main Street and Moore Avenue). The start line is two blocks south, on South Main between Center and McLelland streets.
Why: All proceeds will be donated to local charities in the Mooresville area, including the Humane Society of Iredell County's "no-kill" shelter.
Cost: For $25 (or $30 on race day), runners can participate in any or all of these races.
Of note: This is the second event in the series, which concludes Aug. 13. Each runner will receive a technical T-shirt and one free beer provided by Carolina Blonde (ID required). There will be live music and kids activities.
Race website: Click here.

Streetlight 5K and Fun Run
When: Fun Run is at 7 p.m. Friday, 5K follows at 7:30.
Where: Starts and ends at Les Myers Park in Concord.
Cost: $15 for the 5K. There's no charge for the Fun Run, but registration is still required.
Of note: The race has a new course for 2010 -- it starts in the lower parking lot area, continues on the Harold McEachern Greenway, turns around on the Downtown Connector Segment and back to Les Myers Park. ... There's a stroller division this time around, too. ... T-shirts are only guaranteed to the first 150 registered participants.
Details: Click here.

Krueger Memorial Splash & Dash
What: 400-yard pool swim followed by a 5K run.
When: 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Harris Family YMCA, 5900 Quail Hollow Road.
Cost: $35.
Of note: There are also several races for kids, including one for ages 9-12 (200-yard swim + one-mile run), one for ages 5-8 (100-yard swim + half-mile run), along with a one-mile fun run and a "Tot Trot" for the littlest ones.
Details: Click here.

River Bound 15K/5K
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: On the trails at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway.
Why: Proceeds will support N.C. Outward Bound's Charlotte programs, which serve residents of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Cost: $30/$20.
Of note: This event is the third in a four-race series that concludes 5K and half-marathon at the Whitewater Center on Sept. 25. More info about the River Bound Race Series is available by clicking here.
To register for the 5K: Click here. The 15K: Click here.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Odds + ends for my running friends

Races and other runner-friendly happenings going on this weekend (and later this month):

FEELING TOUGH? Here's something different (and difficult): The first annual Rock-N-Race Weekend is a two-day event hosted at the U.S. National Whitewater Center this Saturday and Sunday; it will consist of four races "utilizing the technical, challenging, yet fun and scenic trails along the Catawba River." There are 8K and 20K trail runs, an off-road duathlon (3K trail run, 20K mountain bike leg, 8K trail run), and the grueling XTERRA Whitewater event. What's XTERRA Whitewater? Click here for more details on it, and on everything happening as part of Rock-N-Race Weekend.

MEET YOU AT THE TRACK: If you got hooked on the Summer Track Series at Myers Park HS and are craving more speed … the Carolinas Track & Field Club is hosting its Summer Track Meets at UNC Charlotte on Friday evenings in July, beginning this week. Registration starts at 5 p.m.; running events (50m for kids 8 and under, followed by the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3200, plus 400 and 1600 relays) start at 6:15 p.m. Entry fee: $3 per person.

AND YOUR BEST 5K BET IS: The James K. Polk 5K, scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday at Belle Johnston Park, 1000 Johnston Drive in Pineville. About 350 people participated last year, when Matt Yost won in 16:56 (Brooke Spencer of Rock Hill was the top female in 19:40). The course winds through residential areas and isn't flat, but also isn't terribly hilly. Cost: $20 (or $30 on race day). For more info, click here.

A DAZZLING DEBUT: Saturday's inaugural Tri! Ballantyne -- presented by the Morrison Family YMCA -- is officially sold out. Setup Events lists 377 total participants for the event, which will consist of a 300-yard pool swim, a 12.7-mile bike leg, and a 5K run through the Ballantyne community. If you would like to support Tri! Ballantyne as a volunteer, you can sign up by clicking here.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK: The Miles of Mooresville summer race series -- which I've mentioned before and competed in myself last month -- is a really cool and different type of event, featuring 1-, 2- and 3-mile races. It continues next Friday evening, July 16, with start times of 7 p.m. for the one-mile race, 7:20 for the two, and 8 for the three. (Sound challenging? It is. I crushed the mile, but suffered in the 2-miler and barely had anything left for Race #3.) Cost is $25, or $30 on race day; runners can participate in any or all of the races and will receive a technical T-shirt plus one free beer. For more details, click here.

A WALKING/RUNNING CLASS DESIGNED FOR WOMEN BY WOMEN: Lorri Elliott knows there are women out there who want to learn to run but feel uncomfortable because of their age, weight or inability to run -- after all, she was one of them not so long ago. (Read her story here.) So with her coach Jen Frank, she developed the idea for Ladies in Motion, a LiveWELL Carolinas! training program that focuses "on women's needs in order to provide a comfortable environment to learn to run." The next six-week session begins Tuesday, July 20, and runs every Tuesday leading up to participation in the Greek Fest 5K on Saturday, Aug. 28. Interested? E-mail jenfrank@athleticorecoaching.com or Lorri.Elliott@carolinashealthcare.org.

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