Sunday, February 12, 2012, I participated in the 2012 North Shore Cupid’s Love Dash 5K race in Highland Park, IL. http://www.northshoreloverun.com/ It was bitterly cold, and there were some moments where I thought that I should just write this particular race off as a lost cause. I mean, it would make no sense to hit the course and end up turning into a human popsicle 100 meters into the race. I walked over to the theater that they had commandeered to act as “race central” to see where they had the port-a-potties or use the facilities, and on my way back to my car I started to go into hypothermia!
I decided to stay and participate, as I had on FIVE layers of clothing (one short sleeve T-shirt, two long-sleeved T-shirts on top of that, a full-length zip fleece, and a full-length zip hoodie over all of that). I managed to stay warm enough, and, surprisingly, did not overheat during the race. IT WAS BITTERLY COLD! Maybe 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The race should have been held later in the day, when the temperatures hit the low 30s.
At the 5K start line, there were only THREE port-a-potties. For a race with 700 participants, this isn’t merely ludicrous, it’s INSANE. A number of people who were in line with me had to leave the line because their race, the 10K, was going to start. (The 10K started at 8:15 AM, the 5K at 8:20 AM. And the 5K actually started at about 8:25 AM or thereabouts.)
My complaint is with the 5K. I have no idea what happened to the 10K, and whether that race was well managed. You see, the map for the 5K race shows that the runners are supposed to start off going eastbound on Central Avenue, and then turn right well before hitting the end of Central Avenue.
Well, guess what! For some reason, the 5K runners ended up going all the way to the end of Central Avenue. (Central Avenue reaches to the edge of Lake Michigan. If one were to go past the edge, it’s a good hundred feet or so down to the waterline.) HERE IS THE VIDEO I TOOK DURING MY PARTICIPATION IN THE 5K RACE:
I had a mini DV vid cam clipped to my baseball cap. You can see the entire race course for yourselves. Anyone who is intimately familiar with the streets of Highland Park, IL, can compare the actual route of the 5K with what was supposed to have been run, based on the map above. The map is the official 5K race map from their website.
Later on Sunday afternoon, I surfed the Web to see whether the race results had been posted. Indeed they had!
And guess what! My race results were not there! Now, I had received a different race bib than most of the other racers, since I had signed up for the 5K last Wednesday, and packet pick-up started the next day. Very sloppy management, if you ask me! (I thought my bib may have been defective, in that there may have been something wrong with the B-Tag on the back. There was only one, and I had originally thought that the race system may not have been calibrated to detect the B-Tags of these spare race bibs. But my race result is now there.) John V. Karavitis
Given that my race results were originally missing (and I had checked both the 5K results and the 10K results), I e-mailed the only e-mail address that I could find: Colleen Montgomery, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Her initial response was:
Unfortunately, our lead bike took you to the next block over, by accident- even though there was a sign and arrows leading you to forest ave. A quarter of you went with the bike and the rest were directed to the right course. I haven’t had a chance to send out an email regarding this as I am still on course.
I’m sorry that happened and it won’t happen next year. we will have a volunteer at that turn and larger signs.
ColleenSent from my iPhone
Okay, my name is John, not Lynette. I e-mailed her back, asking that my race results show up, and that I either get credit for running the full race, or a pro-rated time overall based on running 5 kilometers. I never heard back directly from Colleen, rather, the two e-mails that I got back were both from “MonTees Carpe Diem racing”, which I’m guessing is the race organizer. (Funny isn’t it how many race organizers there are out there! A chicken in every pot, and a race on every Sunday!)
Here is the second e-mail that I rec’d from MonTees Carpe Diem Racing:
Dear Cupids Dashers
Thank you all for participating in our Race. We hope you all had an enjoyable time! 635 Dashers braved the sunny but cold morning.
On Saturday there was a water main break which caused one of the roads to be closed. I remapped and measured the route which was reviewed and approved by the Police late in the day on Saturday. However I believe this might have caused for some nervous Marshals. We hope you all had an enjoyable event and are working to insure a better event for next year.
Due to the new route resulting in the Lead Bike to the 5k take some of you further than you should have gone. (I believe another Marshal gave her wrong information). I was out on course when this happened and redirected the remaining half to turn onto Forest Ave. I know that some of you are disappointed in this error, and I do apologize. Please no that we are working very hard to insure everyone has a safe, well directed correct measured course. We needed a Volunteer at that turn and have larger directional signs, which we will for next year.
LOL! OH, REALLY!! FIRST OFF, there is an apparent contradiction between Colleen’s first e-mail to me, and the follow-up e-mails from MonTees Carpe Diem Racing. If there were signs and an arrow, how could the lead bike, or any of the “nervous” marshalls, not have known where to direct people??? And somehow she managed to end up on the course in time to re-direct three-quarters of the 5K racers! Oh, really!!! I direct anyone reading this post to the YouTube video that I made from my participation in the race. I started the 5K race at the front of the line, and I was among the first 20 or so people to be going back west on Central Avenue after hitting the easternmost edge. Going back westbound on Central Avenue, I looked at the other side of Central Avenue, and saw pretty much the entire line of 5K racers. At least, that is what I perceive that I saw. ALSO, if you review my video in its entirety, there does not appear to be a mass of people that the earlier runners end up meeting at any point along the race. If the vast majority of 5K racers had been re-directed, then those people who had started at the front of the line would have ended up merging with these runners. THAT NEVER HAPPENED.
Maybe I, John V. Karavitis, am mistaken. But I can’t see how Colleen’s version of what happened is correct. How and why could the “lead bike” not have known where to go???? How could the Marshalls not have known? And what sign and arrows??? And when did Colleen show up to re-direct three quarters of the 5K racers??? In addition, I saw no evidence of any water main having burst at any point along the 5K race course which would have necessitated some kind of change, and, regardless, that would have to have been taken care of before the start of the race. AGAIN, I POINT YOU TO THE VIDEO THAT I TOOK WHILE I RAN THE 5K RACE. AND IF COLLEEN’S VERSION OF THE STORY IS CORRECT, WHY DID THE LEAD RUNNERS NOT MERGE WITH THE OTHER RE-DIRECTED RACERS??? The slower of those racers, being further behind those of us who were at the very front of the start line, would have been caught up to eventually by those of us who started at the very front of the start line. Understand what I am saying? People at the front of the start line tend to be faster runners, people toward the end of the line tend to be slower. If the slower runners had been directed further along the race route, ahead of those runners who started at the very front of the line, then those faster runners would have eventually started catching up to and passing those slower runners. EDIT: Further proof of this is in the race results. I am listed as “Unknown partic 1576” (was listed – it now shows my name), with a time of 29:47.9. If the vast majority of runners had been re-directed, then why am I listed as coming in at 24th place, out of a total of 305 runners????? http://itsracetime.com/Results.aspx?ID=345
So, to re-cap: (1) Bitterly cold, and the races should have been run more toward high noon; (2) insufficient port-a-potties, at least by the 5K start line; (3) poor management of race bibs for those registering late in the process; and (4) the mother of all screw-ups with regards to the actual 5K race course itself. (Again, I have no idea whether there were any problems with the 10K course.)
Will I run in this race next year? THAT is the question…..
And there you have it. John V. Karavitis