"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Local race scheduling

I found a race plan of mine from about a dozen years ago [unimportant races bracketed]:

[January: Meet of Miles]
[February: Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon]
March: Human Race 8K
April: Boston Marathon; Get in Gear 10K
May: Norwest or New Prague 1/2 Marathon; Brian Kraft 5K
June: Grand Old Day 8K, Easy Does It 5 Mile, Grandma's Marathon
July: Firecracker 10K, Aquatennial 5K, [Rice Stree Mile], Lumberjack 10 Mile
August: Hennepin-Lake 10K, Mora or Woodbury 1/2 Marathon
September: Victory 10K, City of Lakes 25K
October: Twin Cities Marathon, [Grey Ghost 5K]
[November: Rocky's Run 5K]

One or two of those races no longer exist and I certainly didn't run all of them (I haven't done Boston since I needed 2:50 to qualify), but it says something about racing here.

First, though there are a huge number of races, they are well-spaced, if one can recover from a marathon in three weeks. There was about one day per mile raced between races, a total of 180-185 miles raced, a gradual build-up to peak races - about what my limit was at the time. There's a nice balance of distances throughout the year.

The next thing I notice is that it contains the Minnesota Distance Running Association's Grand Prix schedule, it had all of the state championships at various distances, it had the USATF team and master's circuit races and it had enough distances to have a shot at the Minnesota Runner of the Year awards (15K, 20K, 30K and 20 Mile races are not popular enough to sway the outcome).

The problem with this is that these also happen to be the largest races in the area and the most expensive. They crowd out all the dates for racing in Minnesota, the marathons taking out not only the week of the race, but the week before and the two weeks after. They keep other races from being able to get competitive runners. They also set the prices for other races, which feel they have to keep up with all the extras that the larger races have (and the marathons are competing for runners nationally, not locally).

I haven't checked the schedules for all the series this year, but I expect they haven't changed much [I'll do it and then add to this post later]. The races have been locked - no new ones can grow unless one of these fails and, as they have a lock on the competitive runners, they can charge whatever they want. A couple of the races listed are still quite cheap - Meet of the Miles is $5 still, I think - but they are also the least popular races.

Added: the schedules have been linked. They are essentially the same now as then.


Colin said...

Steve, marathons aside, I think most of these races are fairly reasonably priced. Especially compared to some other races (e.g. the Team Ortho races).

Yes, these races attract many of the top local runners but let's face it -- that's a fairly small subset of the road racing population. I disagree with your hypothesis that they're jacking the prices because they have a captive audience ... the 100 or so serious runners they capture accounts for a small share of their revenue.

There remain plenty of lower priced races which attract faster runners (e.g. Ron Daws 25K). I for one don't see a problem here.

SteveQ said...

Colin, let's just say I'm in a bad mood. It's the cost of the sum total of events that bothers me. When I started running, people often did 20-30 races per year and now they do 1-3 and I think cost is a major reason for that.

Willie said...

Meet of the Miles one of my favorite events. No need for medal, shirt, post race celebration. Just a bunch of runners wanting to get on the track.