Sunday, January 29, 2012

For me, not half-bad; for others, half-ass

Mighty-fine medal. Too bad not every finisher 
received his or hers.
Yesterday morning I raced in my second half-marathon, The Texas Half at White Rock Lake. Some bullet points:

• It was a chilly morning, but the outdoor space heaters minimized the shivering; great idea, especially for someone like me who insists on running in a tank and shorts (I get hot quick).
• How'd I do? Great. I felt fast and strong the entire race. I ran "my race" and finished at 1:49:42 — a full 20 minutes faster than my first half-marathon in November. Yeah, I'm very pleased; I know my training is working and I am even more motivated to reach my next running goals. That being said, I haven't signed up for any races yet. A handful of friends are adamant I run the Hot Chocolate 15K. Maybe. At the very least, I'll volunteer. 

Unfortunately, not everyone had a wonderful race experience at the Texas Half. About a half-dozen finishers are voicing their displeasure on the Facebook page (update: comments have been removed) of Mellew Production Eventsthe company that puts on the race. The major problems: Not having enough finisher medals (several finishers received vouchers), running out of food (not even bananas), open-course safety concerns (cyclists weaving through the crowd) and parking. 

Granted, I'm still pretty new to running races and I have never coordinated a race (I'm sure it's incredibly difficult and stressful); but, it seems to me the first two problems are totally unacceptable. 

You finish the race in the allotted time (the course was open for three and a half hours), you get a hard-earned medal and something to eat. Period. The Texas Half site says that much ... and best I can tell, there isn't any fine print stating they may run out of bling and you'll have to wait three or four weeks to receive your medal. But that's what the disappointed medal-less finishers were told after finishing the race. 

As highlighted in Debbie Fetterman's running column for The Dallas Morning News (no paywall so click away), runner Elaine Hillis participated in Mellew's Four Season Challenge (finishing four Mellew half-marathons) for the medals. 

All told, 1,129 runners finished the half and 291 finished the 5K yesterday; that's compared to 740 half finishers and 261 5K finishers at last year's Texas Half. The Texas Half website noted an expected field of 1,200 runners; what they got was 1,420 finishers. 

That number shouldn't have surprised the Mellew crew. Fetterman's column mentions that the Texas Half hasn't drawn more than 1,230 runners, but the 2012 installment could draw 1,500. In response to that figure, Lewis George of Mellew notes "that's big time." Big time enough to either have enough medals and food, or better cover your bases with some fine print saying "due to open registration on race day, you may not receive a medal or food at the finish line"? Apparently not.  

Moving forward, I hope these problems don't occur at future races and Mellew considers a cutoff for its races. 


Bill said...

Many pre-registered runners didn't get a shirt either (unless you'd be willing to take one way too big or small).

Bill said...

Oh, and when my wife talked to the owner after the race and suggested a cutoff, he refused to consider it, saying "this is how I make my living".