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I Did What?

The post-race crowd from the St. Paddy's race in Des Moines.

We’re all friends here, right?  The reason I’m asking is that I’m going share with you something that happened at the St. Paddy’s Half Marathon that been on my mind since that race several weeks ago.


There was a little over a mile left.  Those of us running the half marathon and marathon were coming up on the 5K walkers who had started after us.  We were all on a bicycle trail, heading to the same finish line.


There were at least a few hundred walkers, most of them keeping to the right so that we could easily move past them.


I say, “most of them.”


Problem # 1

As I ran to the left on that bicycle path, I saw a woman with a small child that I assume was her daughter, walking in my direction.  Blocking my path.


Several walkers finishing up.

Under normal circumstances, I'd have just moved to the inside to get around them. However, that part of the route had other walkers. In other words, I had no easy way around them. Added to that, I'd run close to a dozen miles at a pretty decent clip with just one mile remaining. Given those factors, stopping for them or even slowing down were not options I intended to consider.


I don't recall my exact verbiage, but I believe I used the word “please” the first time asked her to move.  I know that I failed to use it the second time I made that request.  I distinctly recall using very few words that definitely did not include “please” the third time I asked.  Fortunately, whatever I said secured the desired outcome as this individual and her daughter finally moved out of my way.  That would have been the end of the matter had this person not informed me that I perhaps could have demonstrated greater courtesy in my tone.  Which unfortunately triggered a response from me that included a profanity as I sped past them.


I immediately regretted that outburst.  But again, I’m in a race, trying to maintain a pace that ultimately awarded me my best half marathon time in nearly two years. That had my head riveted into "race mode."


Problem # 2

I hadn't run a quarter mile before having another issue with a walker. This occurred when turning a corner between two concrete pylons.  Complicating that maneuver was another walker whom I had thought would defer to a runner coming up quickly behind them.  


Don't let the green skirt fool you. It was chilly that morning.

I was wrong in that assumption, as I had to slow for this person. In another moment of frustration, I let loose a lesser word that is still not allowed on network television.  Which prompted from this person the same word I’d uttered only a moment before with that mother and daughter.


Calling it karma, I took off, grateful that at least the next two times I had to yell for walkers to move to the right, they actually did.  Without snide comments.


Problem # 3

The third incident took place after I'd finished talking with a friend after the race, A young woman approached me with the sole purpose of informing me that I had exhibited poor manners towards that woman and child. She then strongly suggested that my next endeavor should be to locate them so that I could offer a proper apology. I mumbled something noncommittal as a response as I started for my vehicle to return home.


This left me perplexed enough that I forgot to take a post-race selfie. Perhaps my outbursts in both cases could have been worded different. At the same time, I was the one who was running.  Was I supposed to attempt to weave through them, slow down or stop, wiping out the work I done in order to defer to someone walking?


I’ve always operated under one simple rule with running or walking in crowded conditions.  Move to the right so that the faster person can go around you.


That was all I wanted in that race.


What would a race be without inflatable props?

My Dilemma

It’s not my intent to make more of this than necessary.  But my frustrations remain.   I acknowledge that I could have opted for a different vocabulary in those exchanges.  But would that have changed anything?  And isn’t the more significant issue that I found myself in situations where those exchanges occurred?  Had both individuals simply moved, none of this would have happened.


Walkers pay the same registration fee as runners.  That gives them the same right to be there as runners.  I also wholeheartedly support the exercise provided by walking.  


But what occurred at this year's St. Paddy’s has left a rather unpleasant taste in mouth.  Whether I opt to venture into it again will depend upon further consideration.  One key factor being if they schedule the walkers at a different time.


Having had the opportunity to essentially get all this off my chest, my question is now for all of you.  What do you think?  


Was I out of line?  


How would you have responded?


Let me know your thoughts below or on Facebook.




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6 Comments


That sounds like an unpleasant way to end what you felt was a great race for you, I hope you achieved your goal! I agree with the other’s posts that the race director needs to consider that walkers should not be started on a route or time that would interfere with the runners, and I’m always concerned about that when races are run on a bike trail, they aren’t meant for that level of congestion. In fact I decided to pass on a race last weekend for that very issue, I already knew the trail would be tight, and there’s a busy waterway on one side. I understand your regrets about your language, I’ve been there. I’m sure that went…

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Thank you for your message, Kimberlie. You hit the nail on the head with several key points. Being a St. Paddys race, there was certainly a "fun" aspect to the event. However, that seemed more limited to the 5K & walkers. The marathon & half marathoners were definitely taking this serious. A review of the rules would have probably helped. I was pleased with my finish. Just disappointed to have a good race that I had trained hard for end in this manner. Best of luck with your running!

Rick

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Argh, frustrating! After asking nicely multiple times I probably would have popped off colorful language also. BTW, typically longer distances do pay more money maybe a quick tap on the shoulder excuse me please? But definitely a no win situation. Race directors need to remind walkers in these situations up front also.

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I completely agree, Debra. I'm glad I'm not alone in my frustration. I also appreciate you reading the post and wish you the best with future races.

Rick

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Hi Rick,


That is a tough one! I don't think you did anything wrong! It is a race, correct? The best way for the issue to never come up would be to either start the walkers after the runners and make the courses different so that you wouldn't have to worry about trying to pass someone on a narrow, crowded course. Also, it is a no win situation for you as everyone has paid for their race (as you said) and everyone deserves a good experience! i really think it is the organizers fault. My rule is the same as yours. We call it the warehouse rule! Stay to the right at all times especially when someone wants to go…


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I truly appreciate your response. You get it! I had trained hard for this race and felt good about how the half had gone. To have to deal with this when I've barely a mile left was a needless frustration. Like you, I'm all for walkers and good health. I believe a race can handle both. But to do so, there must be rules and they must be followed. Thank you for your words and best wishes with your running!

Rick

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