Today I was in charge of timing the YMCA’s Turkey Trot 5K. For some reason, this is the biggest race in the valley. I believe the size is due to the large backing that the YMCA has. The race has LOTS of walkers…. I went last night to start getting registration set up. It turned out that the online registration system did not get age and gender for BOTH runners when they signed up as a couple. Thus, I had a spreadsheet with 70 or 80 blank spots! As the evening went along and people checked in they were able to catch some of them, but I went home worried because we still had lots of runners with unknown ages! We found some more in the morning and even made announcements at the start line to get their ages written down, but in the end there was still 20 or so, of the 611 registered runners without an age. I had Christian assign their age as “99” and then proceed.
I got back to the start line just in time to find a spot on the line and get going. I felt a little hampered by the lack of a warm up but got off to a fairly quick start. Heading over the freeway the crowd was thinning out ahead of me and I was working my way passing runners, one by one. I spotted one of my students, Derek Rodriguez and he tried to stay with me for awhile on L8, but I got by him. Just in front of him was another one of my 6th grade boys- Ben Sumner. I got by him as well. Lance was now 20-30 meters ahead of me and I was ever so slowly gaining. We weaved through the houses and came out on Ave L. I was now 10 meters behind Lance. When we turned onto 15th I surged a bit and came up right behind him.
I stayed there for a little while, figuring I would recover from that surge and then try another to see if I could get ahead of Lance and the two others that were right there with him. I surged and Lance went with me as we got ahead of the others. We were now gaining on another group that looked like it included another friend, and dad of one of my runners – Eric Ruble. I pulled a little ahead of Lance and became cautiously optimistic that I would be able to break away from him. As we approached L8, Lance darted to the right a little early (but there was no cone or anything to go around) and got ahead. I followed him just a couple of strides up and over the bridge. We got to the last corner, Lance just ahead of me, and Eric Ruble and a couple others just ahead of him. We went around the corner and got into our kick. Now, everyone knows that the kick is not my forte. The pack pulled a few strides ahead, and then a few seconds ahead. Eric held off Lance and I finished next after him.
I was really pleased though that Lance had run another new PR and that I had run under 21 minutes. This was my fastest 5K in 20 months! It was my fastest since setting my PR back in March of 2011. For those comparing times with previous races, by the way, this YMCA course was a little longer and more accurate than the previous versions. I was also pleased to win the 50-59 age group!
After finishing the race I got into timing / results monitoring mode. Our team included Christian inside on the computer, my wife writing the finish order, my daughter running the papers in, Clay calling out the finish order, and Justin, Chuck and Alan all running clocks. running clocks We were beset by a myriad of problems:
- BANDITS! Lots of them. Runners who did not register for the race, but ran it anyway! They did not seem to know that they should not go through the finish chute. They would cross the line and the timers would click their clocks, then they would go through the chute, or in some cases duck under the ribbon.
- Runners who forgot their bibs! They would tell us their number…. You would hope that they would get it right.
- Runners who wore their bibs on their backs! Minor inconvenience.
- Runners who registered their small child and carried their small child through the chute on their shoulder or in a stroller. The guys at the line did not realize the small one was registered so they do not click the clock, but then the parent shows the number to Cheryl for her to record it!
- Runners who go back and run in AGAIN with their loved one. This one actually becomes the worst offense once we try to figure results inside. If someone’s name is on the list twice, the second time it is recorded in the program, it removes from the first place and puts it in the second place. So if runner 502 finished in 75th place and then came back across the line in 300th, the computer would remove him from 75th place and put him in 300th. The problem then is that there is no one in 75th so everyone moves up one. Now the results in the computer do not align with the written record all the way back to 75th place. Of course, when entering these results into the computer we do not notice it happen. We just get to 450th place and see that we are several places off!!! Very frustrating.
- The other problem we encountered was that there were a whole series of runners with 700 something numbers who’s information never got to Christian and they were not in the system. They end up as unknown runners…..
There are a few things we could do to improve our system, but I think it becomes a little too difficult to keep up with over 300 or 400. The Turkey Trot might want to look into chip timing for its next event.
Here are the results as best as I could get them so far. First in overall order and then by age group: