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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/25/13 11:23 A

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I guess I'll have to take one back. Officially, the Nike Women's HM says every person must pick up their packet personally. (They make the absurd claim that it reduces confusion.) However, they've been inundated with people saying they cannot make it to the packet pickup in time so Nike is letting people pickup packets for friends after all.

This illustrates the problems of a first-time race where the inexperienced organizer sets a policy that makes no sense in the real world. Long-time participants might have used it as a factor to skip the race while first-time participants might not have realized the annoyance factor until later (having already made flights and other travel arrangements).

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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/24/13 8:30 P

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I have no complaints about having to go through an expo. No one is making you buy stuff. (I can't remember ever buying anything at an expo. It's almost all cheaper elsewhere. And returns are easier elsewhere.) And I usually walk out with some freebies.

However, I don't like when they insist runners come to the expo themselves for packet pickup. Fortunately, HMs that do this are rare. That new Nike Women's HM in DC is a good example of this bad practice.

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TIMOTHYNOHE's Photo TIMOTHYNOHE Posts: 4,317
3/20/13 10:20 P

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At the prices we are paying for most of these races that have no deferrals and no refunds, I would have to I put up with it, but I don't like it. What if I break a leg or the case of a pregnant woman who signed up originally with an OK from the doctor, now being ordered to not run. That's a lot of money to have to just throw away because of unforeseen circumstance.

Transfer presents another problem. In a word Scalping. I could buy a load of bibs at the low intro price, hold them until the race raises prices to their max, then dump them on StubHub for $10 less. The race doesn't make the money they might otherwise have expected from those bibs.

Deferrals? Until the next race, no charge. After the next race, you lose.
Refunds? Yes with a small "restocking" fee.
Transfers? Hmmm. Maybe if it is handled through an agent for the race and at purchase price plus a small fee. Purchase price, not at the current registration price.
Change of race? I got caught on this one. I got the Route 66 Marathon at a low intro price $55. Six months later I decided I wanted to change my race. I think I should have gotten the transfer straight up. Nope. My Marathon was canceled and refunded less a processing fee of $10 and my Half registration was full current price, $65. The net was $20 more to Route 66.

PS -- I like most of the Expos. I have found good races at the expos. I also spend way too much money. Baltimore 2012 was a bad one. You came into M&T Stadium on the luxury level, you had to walk all the way through half the expo to verify your credentials and get your bib then go all through the entire expo to the other end to get your shirt and rest of the packet. There was no purpose to that except to run me through the show whether I wanted to go or not. Rock 'n' Rolls usually have pick up, then you are channeled to the Brooks Store and then to the Expo but you can exit without all that. They don't force it on you like CSE did.

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon, Dublin, Ireland, 8/5/2013
ie.competitor.com/dublin/


PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/20/13 11:23 A

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Many HMs allow refunds, transfers, and/or deferrals. I have no problem if races charge something to cover their administrative costs. But some races don't allow refunds, transfers, or deferrals even if you're willing to pay! For example, the NY City HM says:

"... entry fees are non-exchangeable, non-transferable, and non-refundable, under any and all circumstances, including, but not limited to, cancellation of the event ..."

The entire Rock'n'Roll series has a similar blanket policy. But even the Baltimore HM (which I have repeatedly criticized for some of its practices) offers deferrals. Some HMs - even very large HMs - are even more flexible. For example, Disney HMs offer deferrals and transfers.

I don't know what's going on with these inflexible policies (which some websites justify by calling them "standard industry practice") but in light of them, is it any surprise that these same races are plagued by people running with other peoples' bibs? (Note: I'm not saying their rules justify this practice.)

Personally, I'd prefer not dealing with a race that has policies so many people consider violating. Given a choice between races, I'll take the one with the more flexible policies.



Edited by: PASTAFARIAN at: 3/20/2013 (11:40)
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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/20/13 8:18 A

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Timothy, The point of this discussion is to compare good vs bad. If you want to compare what makes a good expo vs a bad expo, I'd love to hear it. I'm not arguing you should avoid races with expos. (Indeed, even the satellite-packet pickup races have expos.)

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TIMOTHYNOHE's Photo TIMOTHYNOHE Posts: 4,317
3/20/13 12:17 A

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Most of your spectacle races are, as you point out, for profit races. They want to maximize profit. CSI doesn't do distributed pick up at Frederick for our convenience. The see a cost saving profit margin business decision. They do the standard (and I emphasize that it is the standard) two day pre race expo with packet pick up for Baltimore because it is a higher profit method. I guarantee that if it was more profitable for Baltimore or Rock 'n' Roll or NYC to do it otherwise, the Expo and Expo pock up would be gone.

These are businesses. They do not put on these races for your convenience.

And if it is your preference to minimize your participation in game put on for the purpose of profit, you can find plenty of well run smaller races put on by Fleet Feet or Potomac Running Club or whomever.

I don't mind the Expo packet pick up. For a runner like you ... too close to stay over in Baltimore, to far to just zip up here and get your packet after work before 7:00PM when the Expo closes ... how the Expo model doesn't work for you. But if you are running a race on the same model in Seattle Washington, it wouldn't be as big a problem because you'd be in town anyway.

Mailing the packet to you. Hmmm. How many do that? Some must since you mention it, but I haven't come across any.

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon, Dublin, Ireland, 8/5/2013
ie.competitor.com/dublin/


PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/19/13 11:37 P

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Timothy, It's not the hardship you portray to do satellite packet pickup. First, it's just a fraction of the packets that need to be hauled to each location since they ask in advance whether you want yours at which satellite location. So they're not wasting energy schlepping packets unnecessarily. If you total up the net resources expended, satellite pickup is much more efficient.

And then there are races that willingly mail you your packet if you willingly pay extra. If that covers their cost (and lowers my hassle), I'm fine with that. At least the race should offer it. I don't believe that expos are necessary. It's just a way to increase profit.

Your characterization that Frederick can avoid the problems of Baltimore because of the size difference is a red herring. Bigger races make a better profit even with the same practices because 1) some costs are fixed no matter the size of the race and 2) per-runner costs decrease as runners increase. That's why races always try to increase their size every year.

Bottom line: Bigger races should have lower costs, passing cost savings on to us. But what we see is the exact opposite: Runners get excited by the idea of huge "spectacle races" and unthinkingly pay whatever is asked.

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TIMOTHYNOHE's Photo TIMOTHYNOHE Posts: 4,317
3/19/13 11:05 P

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Lots of times for the really big corporate races ... read Rock 'n' Roll, NYC Marathon, Baltimore Running Festival, Williams Route 66, etc ... those "Health and Fitness Expos" are part of the monies for putting on the race. Registration doesn't begin to defray the costs. Sponsor ships help a lot ... Sun Trust for Rock 'n' Roll USA, ING for NYC, Under Armour for Baltimore, Williams Energy for Route 66. But the expo is another way to help pay the freight and turn a profit. How do we get you to go to the Expo and drop money on a whole box of Gu or some tape that is of questionable value or whatever? We make you come to the Expo to get your bib. And in none of these races is the Expo the same day as race day. They encourage locals to come on Thursday so the out-of-towners can come on Friday (for a Saturday race)

Baltimore is not unique by any stretch.

A distributed packet pick up would require twenty-thousand packets to be schlepped around from site to site for days in advance. Then your out of towners, who are most likely coming in the night before, or those who wait until the very last minute, will be gumming up the works on race morning.

I think, for the really big races, Expo pick up makes sense. For medium races, Frederick is your example, scatter site pick up works well. Small race will still use race day pick up.


Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon, Dublin, Ireland, 8/5/2013
ie.competitor.com/dublin/


HENRYNOLAN's Photo HENRYNOLAN Posts: 866
3/19/13 6:46 P

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thanks for bringing to light all sorts of considerations that i would never have even thought of. i'm in the process of trying to decide which race will be my first HM, and i was looking only at dates. the two i'm trying to decide between are 2 of the biggest ones in the province (ontario, canada), so i had just assumed that they would be well organized and equally excellent

PB races:
5K ~ 11/25/12 ~ 31'58
10K ~ 4/28/13 ~ 67'55
Half Marathon ~ 10/20/13 ~ 2:29:52


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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/19/13 11:56 A

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Here's another point to compare: packet pickup

Some HMs make packet pickup easy and pleasant. Some are the opposite. Example:

Frederick HM scatters packet pickup locations around the state and even some in Virginia and DC! Sooo convenient.

In contrast, Baltimore HM has a single packet pickup. That's bad enough (typical actually) but the B'more packet pickup is on a different day than the race, forcing non-Baltimoreans to make a special trip, in the middle of the business day, to packet pickup. Ugh.

The weird thing is that both of those HMs are managed by the same company! So they know how to do it right. I cannot figure out why they choose to do it so badly for Baltimore. Had I to do it over again, I'd do Frederick another year instead (and I'd come out ahead since Frederick has a cheaper registration fee!) I can understand why Baltimoreans like their HM but, for the rest of us, I'd choose Frederick HM over B'more HM any day.

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TIMOTHYNOHE's Photo TIMOTHYNOHE Posts: 4,317
3/18/13 3:57 P

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I'll get to the generalized question later. I just arrived in Guymon, OK from Dalhart TX where I ran a cold cold cold windy 2:25 or so. Less running tomorrow, same distance.

Any way ...

What? Baltimore had corrals? Oh wait, yes they did. Something like five or six for like 200,000 people. May as well have had no corrals.

You know, I will comment. Not a half marathon, but the Hot Chocolate 15k in DC in 2011 ... such a total clusterf*** it makes all your Baltimore complaints pale ... had nice small corrals and zero control. Partly because they folded the start so to get to a lower corral, you had to cross a higher corral. One thing, the only thing they did right though was I think they had a potty for every runner.

Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible and suddenly you will be doing the impossible -- St Francis of Assisi

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon, Dublin, Ireland, 8/5/2013
ie.competitor.com/dublin/


FANGFACEKITTY's Photo FANGFACEKITTY SparkPoints: (73,692)
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3/18/13 2:35 P

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The Paris HM had good corral control...but no toilette facilities in the corrals and for those of us with nearly an hours wait before starting that was an issue. Another good point was the staggered starts for each group so the water/food stations were not mobbed, and that they had plenty of food/water both along the route and at the end, for which there was basically no wait (likely due to both the staggered starts and my being the end). The kilometer markers were very visible, which I liked.

The Detroit Turkey Trot (10k) had zero corral control so walkers wound up at the front, tripping up the fast runners and the beginning of the race was an absolute mob for the first mile. The mile makers were either completely missing or so small or placed out of the way that I never saw a single one. Detroit had plenty of food/water afterwards but you had to wait in line for 45 minutes to get to it.

The only other commercial HM I've run was the Martian but I don't remember any real details from it. The Detroit Turkey Trot had a similar number of participants to the Paris hm (+30k) so I figured it is comparable.

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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/18/13 2:20 P

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Good question. By commercial, I mean HMs organized for the purposes of turning a profit. (So my example of NYHM, while seeming organized by a club, is in my view, a commercial race since its purpose is to bring in a lot of money that is not spent on the race.)

Maybe I should have used the phrase "for-profit"?

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FANGFACEKITTY's Photo FANGFACEKITTY SparkPoints: (73,692)
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3/18/13 2:05 P

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I'm sorry, but what do you mean by "commercial" HMs?

France - EST + 6 hours

Team Challenge Weight Leader: Fall Teddy Bears
Team Leader: Single Female Homeowners
www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/groups_i
ndividual.asp?gid=21657


SW on 1/1/11 - 204.4 lbs.
GW on 9/1/11 - 134.5 lbs
GOAL ACHIEVED! 70 lbs. banished!

Mind the Gap! between what we know we should do and what we actually choose to do.


 current weight: 157.4 
 
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PASTAFARIAN's Photo PASTAFARIAN Posts: 1,919
3/18/13 1:55 P

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For people who have done at least two commercial HMs: Describe how one HM did a great job on some aspect of the race and how another HM did it poorly. It's important that at least one HM does it wrong; no point in giving attention to things that all HMs do well! (PS: Let's skip club races here and just focus on commercial HMs.) Maybe this discussion will be of some help to people trying to choose their first commercial HM.

I'll start:

- Corral Control

Best: NY HM not only had controlled corrals but had portapotties IN the corrals!

Worst: Baltimore HM had corrals that were uncontrolled. Even more significantly, the corrals were so poorly marked that most of the people in my corral were in the wrong one. It was so confusing that even people with bibs for faster corrals were in ours.

Bottom line: If you can't even do simple corrals correctly, you have too many people in your race.



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