At races, there are certain things runners take for granted - a properly measured course, well-stocked water stations, an organized start/finish area - oh, and let's not forget being pointed in the right direction during the race.
At the Chi Town 10k Race, a major volunteer error resulted in many runners not completing the full race distance and others having to re-start the race.
Here's how it all unfolded:
Race morning: 30 degrees, overcast and windy. Fortunately, the hotel Mom and I stayed at was close to the start and we were able to time it so we didn't have to wait long outside for the race to begin.
Before the start: Mom and I lined up by the 12 minute mile marker since I was planning to pace her to a 1:15:xx finishing time. Soon enough, the gun went off and we were on our way!
Mile 1: Mom was running great and our mile one split was 11:5x. During this first mile, a volunteer directed us through a grassy
u-turn area. I thought this was a little strange since the sign by the
u-turn pointed another direction, but decided the the sign must be wrong. Little did I know this was the moment the race got screwed up.
Mile 1.5: I noticed a large group of runners walking by a water station. Then I saw a guy running toward us and yelling at us to stop. He told us we had been sent in the wrong direction and we needed to exit the course and go back to the start line. ???!!!
Back by the start: About 30 runners gathered to re-start the race. I was seriously annoyed by this set-back and felt bad for my mom and other runners who were trying to PR. When I race, I like going all-out to the point where I have nothing left when I hit the finish line. Adding an extra 1.5 miles would definitely screw up that plan.
Miles 1-5 part 2: Mom took the re-start pretty well but once we got moving again, I could tell she was running slower. I tried to keep her at 12-minute miles, but we fell off pace within the first two miles. At that point, I focused on just pacing her to a new PR - without worrying about hitting the initial time goal.
Mile 6-Finish: The final mile was a definitely struggle for Mom, and I could tell she was working as hard as she could just to finish the race. As we hit the 6-mile mark, I told Mom she was close to getting her PR - she just had to kick in the remaining .2 of the race.
We crossed the finish line with a time of 1:17:58 - more than a minute faster than Mom's old PR!
I'm so proud of Mom for not giving up and still getting a PR that day despite the course issues. Many runners would have used that as an excuse to give up, but not Mom - she used her frustration with the situation to fuel her miles. That Mom - always an inspiration to me :)
After the race, the race director called the 10k participants to the stage for a brief meeting and explained the situation, what went wrong and that the race is offering runners a full refund.
Most people assume there's no way I'd ever do the race again given all the problems. Perhaps it's the crazy optimist in me, but I would give it another chance. The course was super scenic and for the most part flat with just a few small hills. I think it could be a great race to get a PR, if the course was better marked and volunteers knew how to direct the runners.
Sorry again for a lack of race pics - I'm the worst at taking pics before, during and after a race and there are not any posted yet for me to buy. If any turn up, I'll post them at a later date!
I want to know: What's your worst race experience? Also, would you give a race a second chance?
I can't wait to hear all of your horror stories ;)