Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Thursday Lament on the Death of Odd Distanced Races: Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5K (7/19/12)

The Gang after the race (Notice Karen's finisher AND first place medals)

Race: Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5K
Location: South Boston, MA
Goal Time: 19:30
Actual Time: 19:40

 Last winter Joe commented how many races he’s seen go from 10K to 5 Miles to 5K in his career.  Indeed all races seem to be coalescing into 5ks and half-marathons.  To me, it’s sad.  The odd distanced races are going the way of the dodo.  The Wall Street Journal looked into this in 2010 without trying to answer why.

I have my own hypothesis. If you think about it, the running boom is to blame.  The fact is with the running boom, there are a greater number of runners.  Many of these runners have zero chance of winning the race or even their age group.  All they have to race is against themselves.   In today’s world of instant gratification, nobody wants to wait around until next year’s 7 mile race to find out if they are getting better. So month to month they want to run a distance to compare themselves 

If you look at the largest road races in the US, there are many non-5k, non- half marathons:  The Peachtree Road Race (10K), Bay to Breakers and Lilac Bloomsday (12Ks), Boilermaker (15k), Falmouth (7miles) Shamrock Shuffle (8K).  However, these are large races that are often season defining races in their city.  I know in Atlanta the Peachtree t-shirt is a goal; and, I’m sure for residents of Utica and Spokane – that Boilermaker or Lilac Bloomsday t-shirt or finisher medal like the Peachtree holds a personal cache greater than running a 5k faster than last month. Bay to Breakers is even a world famous party for the back of the packers.

Unfortunately the smaller races cannot be the Peachtree or Falmouth.  So to get the racing dollar it has to attract through distance.  One day all small races will be a 5k or a half-marathon (or Derry).

The Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5 miler made the move this year to the 5k. 

I was unable to defend my heavyweight title (won in last years 5 miler) – finishing in 3rd.  Karen however did win her age group.

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