Hey, what ever happened to Floyd Landis? Is that dude still racing? It seems like only yesterday that he was fighting the good fight, butting heads with the man (i.e. Those UCI fascists) trying to clear his name. Remember that book he wrote (the War and Peace of doping denial) about his ordeal and proclaiming his innocence? Man, I hope that guy finally gets his due.
Well, at least those millions of dollars he spent on his defense went to good use. Maybe he’ll pay all those people who donated to his defense fund back. I’m sure he will — he seems like a pretty stand-up kind of guy.
Floyd’s too easy a mark (they even devoted a significant chunk of time on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning to Landis, and all they ever talk about is football), so today on SwimBikeRun we’re going to target someone who is a little more directly involved in our sporting lives: the race director.
Now, race directors deserve a whole lot of credit for the services they provide, and I know I couldn’t do what they do. The time and effort necessary to put on even the smallest 5k is monumental, and much greater than most of us can imagine, so for this they deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. However, as with every career, position, or hobby, a better job can be done and should be strived for. To make things easier for time-crunched RDs, I am hereby proposing an Athlete’s Bill of Rights, a Magna Carta for the endurance athlete if you will, which race directors should follow closely when considering how they can better treat their participants. After all, we’re spending our hard-earned cash to do nothing really more than run around in a circle as fast as we can, so we should be treated better than herded cattle on the way to slaughter, wearing spandex of course.
So here goes:
We the athletes, who’ve trained, dieted, purchased and bragged for at least days in preparation for your race, would respectfully request the following:
I. Beer. All races should have a post-race beer stand. In fact, the idea for this Bill of Rights originated in thinking about the upcoming Tap House 5k and the fact that I’m more likely to do a race if BEER appears somewhere on the flyer. They’re called “post-race parties” after all, and the last time I went to a party with no beer, I was like six.
II. Post-race food. Even though beer is most important, the post race party buffet should be filled with pizza, donuts, cookies, soda and other “non-healthy” snacks. We all live the rest of the week on bagels, fruit, and Gatorade, and we’ve just buried ourselves at your race, and what do we get for our reward? More bagels, bananas, and Gatorade? That isn’t right.
III. Porta-Potties. Whatever number of porta-johns you’ve decided on, add five more, just in case. Nuff said.
IIII. Start on time. Circumstances are sometimes beyond your control, but please, please, please start on time. We wake up earlier to get to your races than we do during the rest of the week, so the least you can do is start on time. Whenever a race starts late, I pine for those few extra minutes of beautiful sleep that I could have enjoyed.
IIIII. Well-marked course. This is more of a personal issue, as I get lost walking to the kitchen, but a poorly-marked course can ruin a racer’s day. Even a couple of steps in the wrong direction can throw racers off and then provide them with an instant excuse for not PR’ing.
IIIIII. Exact distance course. Now that seemingly everybody now races with a GPS watch, it will be impossible to please everybody as one watch’s results will vary from the next. However, doing your due diligence and making sure that your race is as close to the advertised distance as possible will keep participants from complaining about that extra tenth of a mile, and that missed PR of course.
IIIIIII. Refund/Transfer policies. It’s well known that races usually are not profit-making ventures, but if your race sells out in advance (do you hear me, Ironman or Rock n’ Roll?) then a reasonable transfer policy should be offered. You can make even more money with transfer fees and additional registrations. With online registration capabilities, transfers should be easy to offer, and just plain good business.
IIIIIIII. Spacious expos – If you’re expecting thousands of participants and family and friends at your expo, please don’t hold your expo in a classroom. Nothing turns me away from an expo quicker than the claustrophobic death-cage match than a venue crowded with shoppers looking for a commemorative coffeee mug. Participants in an Ironman or marathon will be spending hours bumping into each other at the race, there’s no need to provide us with a sneak preview.
IIIIIIIII. Aid-station drinks. Please tell your volunteers not to fill cups all the way up to the rim. The drinks just end up all over our faces and shirts (which ruins our race precious photos!) or else all over the volunteers themselves when we grab them out of their hands. Also, please weaken the Gatorade. Gatorade that tastes yummy and sweet to a sedentary volunteer is vomit-inducing to many gut-distressed athletes in the middle of a race.
IIIIIIIIII. T-shirts. How hard can it be to give out t-shirts that are not hideous? If you’re trying to market your race, then give people t-shirts that they will wear out in public or while training. For people who race a lot, it’s going to take a pretty cool shirt to make its way into the wardrobe, so please put a little bit of effort into designing a nice shirt. But seriously, thanks for the lifetime supply of bike rags.
These are just a few to start with, and just like the Constitution, amendments can be made (I’m thinking that the right to bear arms against drafters and swim course cutters will be next), so let’s hear ‘em.