Since November 19th, I have run 3 different races – 2 half marathons and one 10k. I have had the pleasure of taking these race relatively easy and nowhere near the serious mindset like races in the past. However, other runners definitely have. After each of these races, I have overheard other finishers mention that the course was long since their GPS clearly stated that they actually ran the allotted distance before they actually crossed the finish line. Hmmm… interesting.
Course that are USATF certified are precisely measured to be exactly the distance that they say they are. So why do they show up on Garmin’s and other watches as long? Well, races are measured on tangents. Meaning, the shortest distance that it takes to get from point A to point B.
This is not new information. There have been plenty of other blog posts about it. I just thought it was very interesting the number of times that I had recently heard people actually refuting the fact that they had PR’d and that the course was wrong. All hail Mr. Garmin.
Multiple years ago, when none of us used GPS watches during races, we all just trusted that the race was right because the race officials said so. We would use our Timex Watches (at least that is what I use) and just time the distance, and report on it later. We crossed the finish line having ran 13.1 miles, not 13.3, or 13.41 – the solid half marathon. Now, with all the technology that we carry, our races are different.
When you look up your results and they say a different time than you have listed, do you put an asterisk, saying that you did in fact have a different time and that the official results are wrong? Or do you take them for what they are - the official results?
If I would have actually had a working GPS when I ran the Chicago Marathon, I am sure that it would have said that I ran more than 26.2 miles when I crossed the finish line. And if I would have stopped my watch when I completed that distance, it would have most likely been the difference between those 14 seconds that stood between me and a Boston Qualifying time. Boston doesn’t care what my watch says – they care what the official results say.
So really, my question is – are you a runner that goes by what your watch says, or by what the course states? Does having a GPS alter your view of the distance that you ran, and the time that you ran it in?
P.S – I’m not taking anything away from any of you that have run great races lately. I’m just starting a healthy discussion, not an argument.