Sporting Life 10K

This past Sunday, I ran the Sporting Life 10K for the fifth year in a row. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, the race wasn’t well run. I’m not going to talk much about that aspect, as I think so many other people have done a great job summing it up and keeping the conversation going, so rather I’ll post some links below that you should read if you’re interested in what happened. Here you’re just going to get how my race went.

It was forecasted to be a little bit chilly early on Sunday morning, and it definitely was in the shade. I was really happy at my last minute decision to bring throwaway gloves and a hoodie to wear at the start. We did the usual pre-race stuff, bag check (frightening – still amazed my bag was in its right place at the end), portapotty and hopped in the corral about 10 minutes before ours (green) was supposed to go. Before I knew it, we were shuffling towards the start line and ditching our throwaways.

From the start, it was packed but I enjoy this course, so much that I ran it during the other Yonge Street 10K last month. I was feeling pretty solid as we made our way down Yonge, weaving in and out a bit to get into a comfortable spot. I hate having people run right next to me so I usually try to pass people until I find a spot with a little more solitude. I use the term solitude lightly, obviously, since there were 27,000 runners. The kilometres felt like they ticked by pretty quickly, under the bridges with spectators overhead, past a couple of cool entertainers and a few water stations. Before I knew it, I was rounding 7k, minding the streetcar tracks along Richmond. I should note, I didn’t use the water stations, but noted that it seemed like some volunteers were manning completely empty tables, yelling “There’s water down there!”, which didn’t make much sense to me but anyway. When we made the turn from Blue Jay Way/Peter to Front St., I couldn’t help but notice that we were all run up onto the sidewalk and I still don’t know the story behind that. I’ve run that turn around the curb every year before this so I’m not sure if that cut was intentional or not.

I took a mini walk break at 9k to save up my energy for a big finish (little did I know I didn’t need it). As soon as I saw the big FINISH sign, I started to pick it up a bit, not really realizing what was ahead. I was forced to come to an abrupt stop about 10 – 20 feet from the finish line due to a giant wall of people in front of me. No but really…

clustereff

I spent about a minute grumbling (might have been an obscenity involved) and shuffling my way across the finish line before stopping my watch at 1:01:37. I wasn’t close to a PB, so I didn’t mind losing the time as much as I might have had I been close to PBing, but I was super annoyed with the whole process.

I got out of the finishing chute as fast as I could (so probably about 10 minutes passed due to being held up at Fleet St for car traffic, which I’m sure is a major contributing factor to the delays overall), collected my lackluster medal, grabbed a banana, and miraculously found my bag in its correct spot. I perched on a curb to wait for my friend, and we both spent a solid 10 minutes condemning this race and its organizers.

Highlights:

Lowlights:

  • pre-race bag check system was confusing and disorderly
  • general finish line and finish area organization
  • the medals were pretty lame (Silly thing to harp on, but after you collect so many, you want new ones to be interesting at least)

As promised, there are some great posts around the finish line debacle that are much better written than I could ever put out, check them out if you want to learn more.

  1. Sporting Life 10k – Another race fail
  2. Is the Toronto Marathon riding on the coattails of sentiment?
  3. Toronto, Running Doesn’t Have to be This Way

In the interest of fairness, I’d encourage you to read this piece containing an interview with Jay Glassman about the chaos, though I will warn you that it may enrage you and want to send him PR counsel specializing in crisis management and media training immediately.

Have you ever had a bad racing experience?

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