Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Back of the Pack Runners

I understand why races let the fast runners start first and slow runners in the back. Otherwise, the finish-line would bottleneck as those faster runners catch up and pass the slower runners. However, the experience is not the same for everyone.

My first year running the Broad Street Run, I was honest and said that I'd probably just make the time cutoff for the race and therefore I was put in the last starting group. I was still standing at the start line when the first group was reaching the finish line. By the time I started, bands and crowds along the course had already started packing up. At the finish line? they were out of pretzels, the ice cream was melted, and I had to take my own medal out of the box. 

Since the Broad Street Run allows you to put in your predicted finish and don't go by official times from pervious years, I have since been more relaxed with my estimated finish and start in a middle group instead of the last group. I purposely stand to the back of that group so I don't get trampled by those faster runners. When I reach the finish line, it's still crowded and I am able to truly enjoy the accomplishment. 

I saw this article in Runners World and I'm not really sure how I feel. While I 100% agree that the finish line and official supports should stay available for every runner (we all paid after all) I'm not sure how I feel about having the back of the pack runners start at the beginning. I'm not typically an attention grabber and I feel like being put in a special start group is just asking for that unwanted attention.

I'm not sure what the solution really is for this. I know that marathons can't just keep streets closed indefinitely for the slower participants but there's got to be some kind of solution that will allow everyone to have that same experience.