This week I’m not reviewing a race from the point of view of a runner, rather from the point of view of a committee member. This was my second year of participating on the committee for the Liv9 Fall Classic in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada in the guise of handling the communications and social media.
Our race is held towards the end of September and has been for 33 years. We hold a 5k, 10k and half marathon as well as a 3k middle school challenge to help promote activity in the schools.
This year the committee had to overcome many problems; our title sponsor was bought out by a bigger company and they no longer wanted to support our race, city construction and mother nature rendered our normal route unusable and the preferred alternate unavailable, and the Harvest Jazz and Blues festival changed their dates forcing us to move from our normal weekend further causing us to have to find a new home for our race kit pick-up.
Our previous title sponsor, Accreon insurance was bought out by an American company and thus communication with our usual contact was spotty at best. This caused us to get a very late start on finding a replacement sponsor which was quite difficult because a lot of businesses had already committed their budgets for this year. Thankfully, over the summer a local company, Liv9 nutrition signed on as our title sponsor.
Oh mother nature! Torrential rain caused a portion of our normal course to become washed out and the city was already underway with construction on a portion of the preferred alternate trail so we had to become creative with our route planning. We incorporated more of the trails on the south side of the river which increased the complexity of directing the runners.
New Start/Finish Line and New Logo/Medals
In for a penny, in for a pound right? Since we were changing so many things we decided to also change where our start/finish line would be and also our logo and our medals. This aspect of our event actually went pretty smoothly, we agreed on a design, still had the medals made in New Brunswick and most of the technical shirts arrived on time, less one box.
Race Kit Pick-Up
The Harvest Jazz and Blues is a huge festival in Fredericton which normally occurs a week before our race so there isn’t a conflict, however this year they changed their dates causing our normal event weekend to be in conflict. Once we pushed our event back a week we discovered that the normal venue that we use to hold our race kit pick-up and modest expo was already booked. We eventually settled on a more unique location at the Cultural Centre which honestly gave us more room and more of a parking area and was closer to the start/finish line.
The actual day of race kit pick-up went well logistically, there was lots of free parking and no one complained about not being able to find the venue. Aside from the above mentioned technical shirt snafu the merging of two databases caused problems when one of them didn’t actually have any size data for the registrants. The volunteers had to reconcile this information when they handed out the bibs to the participants. The gym that we were in was very spacious and we received numerous comments positive comments on the venue.
The weather of the day of the race was foggy but otherwise worked out perfectly with cool temperatures and light wind. Set up went well and the half marathoners went out at 8:30am without issue. The 3k middle school run at 8:45am was when the trouble started. The course for this race had always seemed to be confusing to a lot of people. Sadly, even with a lead biker the runners cut the course off much too soon and only ran about half of the distance. Many parents were not happy and the idea of a re-run was not advisable due to 3 other distances running the same course and possible confusion (more) at the turn-around points. The 10k and 5k races went out and came back without issue and most of the anecdotal comments from the participants pointed to a lot of PB’s and a scenic course….however the half marathon course was discovered to be 300-400 metres short so the records that a few runners had turned in could not be accepted.
One pretty fantastic thing happened at the end of the race. One 10k participant was really struggling running her first 10k race, in fact all of the other runners in all of the other races had finished. When our volunteers heard that she had 1.5km left about 12 of them ran out to meet her and walk/run her in. The scene at the finish line was one of good will, happiness and triumph. Your race is nothing unless you have quality volunteers and I am happy to say that our race has them year after year.
These comments are strictly my own and do not reflect anyone else on the committee or organizers.
I felt this year that the committee needed more oversight or at least somewhat of a heavier hand, especially with so many race changes. Tasks were changing seemingly up to almost the very last minute, which I understand can happen but as an example the organization of the volunteers was transferred to the assistant race director 2-3 weeks before race day! The lack of a course director and at least 2 course marshals was a HUGE oversight and the problems, especially with the 3k race, were predictable and avoidable.
In spite of the committee, the race was an overall success, our numbers were up and people were raving that it was a fast, scenic course. I think that the race succeeded to the level that it did in large part due to the volunteers and the work of a few very dedicated committee members and not the committee as a whole.
I will not be back on the committee next year, not due to the problems this year, but due to the fact that my work schedule will not permit me to participate to the level that I feel will be required; I had already made this decision ahead of the race. I do hope that the suggestions that I will put forth in the wrap up meeting will be taken to heart as the race could be a favorite of runners in the early fall schedule.
One foot in front of the other