Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fun with course certification

Wow! Some of the long races around West Michigan are updating their courses this year. Recently, I was over measuring the Park 2 Park half marathon course in Holland. It's a great half-marathon warmup if you're doing our marathon about three weeks later. Flat course, scenic, well organized. 

The Octoberfest Marathon in Spring Lake is reworking its course as well. It's another great tuneup race - while you're in shape for one, may as well do two, don't you think?

Certification is the key to being a Boston Qualifier. What that means is that the course is measured to USATF standards. It also means it's NOT SHORT. 

You probably think a marathon is 26.2 miles. (Actually 26.21875.) It's measured that way, plus a tiny "short course prevention factor" which puts it a little closer to 26.25. And then, the course is measured via the tangents, which means if you cross the road or run beside someone or don't follow the exact inside of all the curves, you're going to run longer. Most marathons can't be done in less than about 26.4 miles. If you're in Chicago weaving in and out around thousands of other runners, you may even get to 26.6. If you're running a trail marathon, it's not certifiable in most cases, but they're rarely short.
Especially if Randy Step has anything to do with it.

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