Sometimes, unexpected things happen at races. As John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” If things at your race start happening that weren’t part of your plans, then you’ll be glad you chose to have SpectaSport by your side to provide strong and experienced guidance to save your race.
Out of the Loop: What Happens When Volunteers Make Mistakes?
In November 2017, the Sussex County Women’s Forum was extremely relieved that they had chosen to partner with SpectaSport for their annual “Alexa’s Thunder Run”, a trail half-marathon and 10K. These were not rookies, Mary “The Trail Queen” Galeos and her organization have produced dozens of trail distance races, and typically draw 300 or more people to their races on hiking trails in rural New Jersey. But things can happen even to the best organizations, and a volunteer accidentally directed most of the 13.1 mile runners the wrong way, bypassing a trail loop of almost 2 miles. It’s not the first time in the history of the world that a race has been diverted inadvertently, and it won’t be the last (it happened at a large international marathon in Italy the previous month). Some of the local runners, who had run the race previously, realized the mistake and ran the missing section on their return loop. But about half of the runners had no idea they had missed the loop. At most races, they would have been disqualified.
While the race staff concerned themselves with making sure runners were safely back on the correct trails, SpectaSport calmly stepped in and created an entire new race division on the spot. By the time the first runner crossed the finish line, Alexa’s Thunder Run had already grown to a three-division race with results for a new 11 mile race added to the originally-planned 13.1 mile and 10K races. Online results reflected the addition of the new division and updated automatically during the race as runners were moved from the 13.1 mile race to the 11 mile race. SpectaSport’s results kiosks provided up-to-the-minute results and classifications for all three races, including the 11 mile race that didn’t even exist when the runners first started the race. In many cases, runners saw their age group classifications for the 11 mile race on the results kiosks before they even realized there was an 11 mile race.
To put it in perspective, SpectaSport provided full results to runners, as well as online results, for a race division that didn’t even exist at the start of the race—in less time than other timing companies take to provide limited results for planned divisions.
Getting Results: SpectaSport to the Recue
The result was “Results”; after all, isn’t results what you most want from a timing company? Thanks to SpectaSport, every runner that crossed the finish line was classified and got an official time. Nobody was penalized or got a raw deal, because those that ended up not running the full 13.1 miles still had full results in the new 11 mile race. In many cases, runners were comparing their 11 mile results to their friends just as if that was the distance they signed up for to begin with. Runners in the 11 mile race even got their own awards presentation for overall and age group winners.
“As soon as I was told we had a glitch on the course causing runners to lose about a mile and a half I thought hmmmm. It’s gonna be fine,” said Mary Galeos, Director of the Friend 2 Friend Trail Series. “I walked over to Ken and described what took place and asked if there was any way we could determine who ran the full 13.1 and who did not. I wanted to reward the 13.1 but also, considering I had enough medals, wanted to acknowledge those who ran the 11 miles. They had committed to run the 13.1 and I didn’t want them to feel cheated. Ken turned back to his computer and said, No problem, Mare. I’ll just create another event. I thought I was calm when I approached him with the issue but I couldn’t believe the sense of relief that flooded my brain in that moment. My runners were more than appreciative and as if that weren’t enough they all got to see their times immediately at the kiosk Ken had set up for them. In 17 years as race director there’s no other timing company I’d ever consider using than SpectaSport!”
Perhaps most importantly for this charity race that raises money for free mammograms, only one runner wanted a refund. If one of the volunteers for your charity race accidentally sent half the runners the wrong way at your race, are you confident that runners would still be happy and pleased with the outcome? If not, maybe you should call SpectaSport. After all, it can happen to any race because “life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.”