A Great Idea: parkrun

November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes a simple idea is so obviously great, it makes you wonder why no one  thought of it before.  One of those ideas flickered across my Twitter feed today.

Enter parkrun.

parkrun is a British organization that organizes free, weekly, 5k runs.

I love this idea on a few different levels.

First, earlier this week, I whined about the whole process of getting into some races now-a-days.  You can almost hear me cuing-up my old, crotchety voice, “back in my day, you could just decide on a whim to show up at any race on race day and just sign right up”.   From what I skimmed, these are much smaller, informal races that discard the hype.

Second, from a training perspective, the best way to get into racing shape is to race.  I know I’m able to race much faster than I can train.  For whatever reason–the excitement, the competition, the feeling of being judged, I can just race faster than I can run.  Having a consistent, affordable, regular series of races/runs provides awesome workouts and measuring tool.  Reminds me of the awesome Salomon Autumn Trail Series that I’ve run the last three years.  The series consists of 4 races, two weeks apart, at a local park.  I’ve said it before but the Salomon Trail Series give me a chance to re-create a mini-Cross Country season.

Which leads me into the final, and perhaps most important, reason I love the idea–it gives runners an excuse to get together on a regular basis.  A few different events over the last three months have emphasized how much more personal an in-person bond can be, experiencing things together.   Getting together with friends, comparing notes, having a bit to eat, and going for a run together is a great benefit.

I’ve been toying with a similar, less grand version of this for a little while but maybe I should raise my goals although taking time to organize things takes a lot longer than I knew.

Would you participate, at least occasionally, in a weekly run/race?  For either training, psychological or social reasons?

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Racing to Register

November 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Registration opens today for the 2012 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon & Half Marathon, which I am not running for a  record 11th straight year.

Not that I have anything against this race, in fact I would have signed up for the half today if it weren’t for the fact that the route will not go through Lambeau Field this year.  Last year, I considered running the half primarily for that reason but by the time I wanted to (Mid February), the race was closed.  And while Green Bay is one marathon that allows numbers to be transferred, I wanted to set my schedule in stone and not hope I could find a second-hand number.

But this raises an increasingly common issue–races that fill up to capacity.

I understand races need to limit the field of races because of logistical, planning, and safety reasons–overbooking a race is worse than limiting the field.  But, for the runner, it’s a pain in the gluteus maximus.

It seems that to get into some of the more popular races, you first have to win the registration race just to get into it–and as a race becomes known for filling up, the registration race gets more competitive.  Which really sucks for a marathon or even half-marathon because they can fill up months before the actual race and if life gets in the way of your training, you end up donating your registration fee to the race unless they let you transfer or roll-over your registration although that isn’t the standard.

Some races–Garry Bjorklund 13.1, my Goal Race for the first half of 2011–require you enter a lottery for registration.  And while I got in, going through the lottery process isn’t fun either as it makes planning difficult.  In most cases, I think you find out fairly quickly but there still is usually a period where you end up training without knowing whether or not you’re actually going to get into the race.

Generally, it is a good thing that more runners are out there doing more races but it has added a dynamic to some races that takes away a bit of the fun.  As I’m thinking about my 2012 racing plans, the ability to actually get into the race is another factor to take into consideration.

Running smaller, less likely to fill up races is an option with a different set of pro’s and con’s and I enjoy doing that for training races but would be a little bummed if that decision gets forced onto me because of race capacity restrictions.

I do have an idea of what I want to do next spring & there haven’t been registration problems the last couple years so, if my training goes well this winter, I might not have to worry about getting in but if things fall through, my backup plan could definitely be effected by registration caps.

Has anyone been burnt by training for a race they couldn’t get into?

Have you “discovered” a great  race that you ended up running because you couldn’t get into a different race?

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