Yes, I am a race director. This makes me both a very considerate runner as well as an easily offended runner. I say this because I feel for the race director in running situations. Last year, when Disney’s Wine & Dine made the tough decision to cut the race short because of the weather and people went ape shit online, I didn’t feel bad for the runners, I felt bad for the race director. Making these decisions is not easy, in fact it can be downright scary.
I say scary because in today’s world of entitlement a lot of runners don’t stop to think “maybe they are doing this for OUR safety” they think “They are ruining MY race”. Sometimes things happen and instead of being forgiving and allowing for a fix, people automatically jump to THEY DID THIS TO ME!
I participated at a race a couple weeks ago (not one of my races) and I saw what might have been the worst, what I call RACE UGLY, you can image. I call it race ugly because its that ugly side of a person that comes out during the race experience. I’ve seen people get angry pre-race when they are told that they don’t “get something” they think they’ve paid for (i.e. I paid for the race and I can’t do it now but I want my medal, and shirt, and packet). They think they earned these things by simply “training” for a race (but that’s another post for another day).
This “race ugly” occurred after a race. The race had run out of half marathon medals. I’m sure there were reasons behind this but it happened. It isn’t good, and it is definitely crappy, but mistakes happen. There were probably 20 people total who didn’t get a medal and sadly it was the people at the end. Most, were super proud of their accomplishment of finishing. Some were annoyed but pleased that the race director was there saying we will mail you your medal. Then there was 1 woman. I’m not sure I’ve seen this kind of anger and hate pulsing through someone. And this women LET THE RACE DIRECTOR HAVE IT! I think she was 1 step away from pushing him or punching him or something. As a 3 hour half marathoner (and this women came in after 3:45:00 which is technically 15 minutes past the cutoff) I was ashamed by her behavior. I know there are two-sides to every story. Maybe her race was not a good one. Maybe she had a plan for the day and it didn’t go that way. Or maybe, she is just not a nice person. Either way, no one deserves to be talked to or treated in such a way.
Was there water on the course? Were their signs out helping you find your way to the finish? Were there police officers and cones out keeping you safe? These are the things you should be worried about on race day.
So here’s the deal: A race does not OWE you anything for training. You have hopefully worked hard and have accomplished your goal. It isn’t about getting a t-shirt, or a medal, or a half gallon of gatorade and chews on course. It is about your journey! Your journey to get to the starting line, your journey to the finish line, and what your journey will be after you cross that finish line.
Why would you belittle someone who is trying to give you the best experience possible? Why would you attack the staff and crew as though they did it on purpose and directly to you. Remember everyone is human. People make mistakes at their jobs everyday, race staff is no exception.
So, next time you toe the line, remember this is your journey there is no need to be UGLY if things don’t go as you have planned.