I’m registered to run the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October – have been since the beginning of November 2011.
Yesterday, I saw a comment about how the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series handles runners who don’t maintain the required pace in their races.
One option participants have is to:
“Board a “sag wagon” shuttle to move forward on the course, where they may continue to participate in the event, maintaining the minimum pace required.”
The person who posted the comment went on to state:
- that “the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series is degrading the sport of running, by actively supporting and encouraging cheating.”
- that “sag wagon” riders still “collect a medal which they did not earn.”
- and called for RnR to “suspend this policy immediately” and urged runners to “look for other races.”
I guess I would have to agree with the poster. How is busing people forward so they can finish with (or ahead of!) someone who invested time and sweat in training (or even no training at all) right? Does that effectively mean that, short of a medical emergency (which is option 3) or picking up the pace (which is option 1), there are no DNFs (did not finish) at Rock ‘n’ Roll events? In looking at the 2011 results for San Jose, there are 104 people who finished over the 4 hour time limit and 92 in 2010 (assuming that the current limit of 4 hours was in effect back then.) Further, post-4-hour finishers can print a finisher certificate with their time and no indication of the post-time limit finish. I also didn’t note any asterisks indicating “use of ‘sag wagon'” near people’s names.
Anyway, no one from the San Jose RnR page responded to the March 18 comment and, prior to writing this post left a comment that reads:
“RNRSJ – Any response/comment to Bart’s post below? Is his interpretation of the “Board a “sag wagon” shuttle to move forward on the course, where they may continue to participate in the event, maintaining the minimum pace required.” option accurate? Does this option only get the runner a shirt or do they get to cross the finish, get a medal, and certificate?”
If “sag wagon” users get to run across the finish, get a finish line photo, get a medal, and a certificate, well, that’s just wrong. Even my non-running, Dennisyou’rekindafreakyaboutthisrunningthing-thinking wife agrees!
We’ll see if any RnR rep responds to Bart’s or my post – I will update this post if anyone does. I saw a few posts about this practice when I did a Google: here and here. The first post says that Disney gives medals to all runners and not just finishers – ouch…guess I won’t be running with mickey.
Now, to the “Conflicted Runner” part of this post…
Maybe I’m just overreacting and being nitpicky, but I’m seriously considering not running the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll.
I just started running (from couch-to-5K) in September 2011, so it’s not like I’m some ultra-skilled, widely-experienced runner. I’m just an average person who is now hooked and committing time and effort to training…and having a ball along the way. Running races is where the rubber meets the road: “The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank.” (Dr. George Sheehan.)
The principle issue here is with an organizer even offering this option.
Certainly people don’t plan on sag wagonning their way to the finish – at least I hope not. I expect that when people (like me) register for a race like a half or full marathon (or any distance for that matter), they expect to finish and take the steps to prepare (some better than others, some not at all.) Personally, if I had to take a sag wagon, I wouldn’t feel right about getting the race benefits – even the complimentary shirt, certainly not a medal.
I guess for those reasons, I may just count the $70 registration as a loss and select another race in that general time period. I already found three good candidates – better read their rules and regulations.
What are your thoughts on this? What would you do? Am I just overreacting?
Training Journal – 3/23/12:
- Current plan: 10-Miler Training
- Today’s session: 5 mile easy run @ 10:05
- Comments: Good run – back to running pants as it was a bit cool this morning! 5.31 @ 9:41