Verified: the Midsummer Mile Was SHORT

>> Monday, July 15, 2013

This has been a bit of a roller coaster. Here are the ups and the downs:

When I ran a 4:40.5 mile last Wednesday, my Garmin called it short.

Then people questioned a Garmin's ability to handle those sharp turns at sub-5:00 pace. And people kept saying it was a certified course. (And I knew it was certified, but it still didn't seem right.)

Then Rick Recker, the USATF/MN Course Certification Chair, asked me if I had photos of the finish line. He had a suspicion that the wrong fire hydrant was used as the finish line.

I sent him a few photos, and he was able to pinpoint what he needed to know. He responded with "Course checked out. Marks are good. Nice PR." I nearly wet myself!

Then Rick heard from someone else that they thought the start was off. Rick never considered that because the certification notes make the start line very clear/easy to place. I sent him 4 photos that showed close ups and wider shots of the start.

Rick responded with this official note:

That last part is what's important: it says to multiply our finishing time by 1.036 to get our approximate "actual" mile time. So my 4:40 mile turns into a 4:50 mile. (280 seconds x 1.036 = 290.0 seconds = 4:50.0.) I had done some math in my race report based off what I had on my Garmin, and I figured I was on pace for a 4:47.9 - 4:49.2 mile. So that was about right the entire time.

If I now call this a 4:50.0 mile, it's still a "Road Mile PR" (easily beating my only other road mile which was 4:55.9), but I'm under a half second shy of my "Track Mile PR" (set at the 2011 Meet of the Miles at 4:49.53).

SIDE NOTE: If you've never seen official USATF Certification notes, go find some from a local race. They are full of random little drawings like the one you see above. I looked up local race a few years back, and they had notes and drawings like: "mile 9 marker: 4 feet past the 2nd stoplight north of Main Street." Or something like that. And there'll be a crude drawing of it. Click here to search for your local USATF certified races.

One final thing... in my race report, I showed this photo of me near the finish and asked "What's THAT face?"

Well, a reader helped me answer that question. I was sent this:

Hole. Ly. Crap. That's fantastic.

"I'm going to enjoy watching you die, Mr. Anderson. I'm just not enjoying the final 200 meters of this race."


SteveQ 10:11 AM, July 15, 2013  

I hope this helps people to see that certified races aren't always correct, and even the races you'd least expect can be in error (NYC Marathon was short for about 10 years), but at least the offcials are trying to be accurate and helpful.

And you really need to run a mile in a suit in the rain now.

Karen 12:30 PM, July 15, 2013  

I helped mark our local marathon and it was a huge pain in the ass looking at the certification papers and maps. Our race is very rural so it had something like "3,224 ft. west of such and such marker". I wish we had fire hydrants and poles to guide off of, it would have helped immensely when we placed all 26 of those mile markers.

Great job on helping them figure out the course AND that new PR. :)

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