You see, this weekend I had a surprising number of friends racing Ironman Chattanooga. (Let me be clear, for as much running as I do, I think doing an ironman is completely crazy – in an amazing / awe-inspiring way.) It seems like it was a good day to slog through 140.6 miles as a number of them had great races. But wait…. the course actually WASN”T 140.6 miles. It was 142.6 – a full 2 bike miles longer than it was expected to be. (There were actually rumors that it was going to be FOUR miles longer than normal.) For the average ironman, this would increase their time by over 6 minutes or more. In a sport where carbon fiber jock straps and helmets that look like sperm are the norm, I’m really surprised I didn’t see spandex clad triathletes with carbon fiber pitchforks trying to skewer anyone with a clipboard who looked like they had authority.
If a marathon were any longer than 26 miles 385yds runners would certainly flood to facebook to vent their frustrations, clear plastic homeland security approved gear check bags raised above their heads in silent protest. But, to be fair, some aspects of running are indeed “flexible” with the distance where needed – 100 mile runs are usually around 102-4 miles. But, by far the vast majority are accurate down to the last meter. If they are not, runners are the first to complain about it. As evidence of this, stand by the finish line of any major half or full marathon and listen to exhausted runners piss and moan about how their GPS shows 13.3 or 26.7 miles.
So, the question that I had to ask self is “are runners just too particular about stuff”? Should we all take a big spoonful of “simmer down” and stop sweating the small things? I can’t seem to find if there was any sort of “adjustment” for the longer course. I doubt it. When I ran the Denver marathon and the course was long, our official (and therefore Boston Qualifying) times were reduced by ~30 seconds. So, the precedent is certainly there.
All told, I’m shocked that 1) this was allowed to happen and 2) it was (seemingly) not a huge deal. In the grand scheme of things, it was a very small percentage of overall distance and time, but in sports where seconds count I would think that people would do terrible things to save that kind of time. Maybe runners could use a bit of perspective and not worry about the seconds and instead focus on the big picture? For my money, I’m going to keep running exactly 8.00 mile runs… but maybe I’ll go crazy and run without a garmin now and again (on a course where I know the exact distance…. I’m not a barbarian).