I paid $35 to run a 5K Turkey Trot this morning. This particular race has been a tradition in our town for several years, and it draws a pretty large crowd of runners (at least 300, maybe 400). Furthermore, the course is as flat as it's going to get around here - so at least in theory, it's a good opportunity to set a 5K PR.
It's sponsored by a professional athletic center where a bunch of pro football players train.
In other words, all signs point to a well-organized race.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Issues with this 5K:
1. 15 tables, no signage. I didn't pre-register, so I registered this morning. It took me several minutes to figure out where the sign-up sheets were. Once I'd filled out the form, it took me another few minutes to figure out where to pay. The person who accepted my money said, "You can get your bib over there," and then pointed in a vague direction. Lather, rinse, repeat with the chip table.
2. No starting line. Most of us milled around in confusion, trying to deduce which direction we were setting off in. Furthermore, there were no suggestions for runner/walker placement. What's the point of having a big, USTF-certified, timed 5K if the people who want to get off to a fast start are blocked from doing so? I'm not insulting the walkers, but race directors should think about this.
3. No gun, no "Ready, set, go," nothing. Some people started running and the rest of us followed.
4. No clocks anywhere along the course. Even the smallest and newest race I did a couple of months ago had a clock at the finish line. I should have started the timer on my phone, but I assumed I didn't need to.
But wait. Isn't it really all about the joy of running? Isn't that the most important thing?
Um, no. If I want to experience the joy of running, I'll go to the local park and run for free. When I sign up for a race, I do it because it's a way to feed my self-competitive hunger. I love running, but I love running in large part because it's a way for me to set goals and strive to reach them.
I've been doing more speedwork lately, and I think I managed to keep up a decent pace during the race - so I have high hopes that I beat my last time. I'll have to wait until the results are posted online (which should be anytime between now and the end of the year).