Lies race directors tell us

564820 3688853220534 1251317490 3656570 122962994 n 300x224 Lies race directors tell us

Not everything a race director tells you is true

Let me preface this by saying that this is all tongue in cheek–I love what race directors do for us. They take on a thankless job, spend countless hours putting together quality events, and rarely make much of a dime off the event (unless they are directors of the RocknRoll series, of course!). That said, every once in a while, the race description might be, well, a little off. Here are some of my favorite lines from race directors:

  • Rolling hills. Translation: big mother hills that never end.
  • Water stops at miles x, y, and z. Sometimes it’s only x and y, not z. Or only x.
  • Small gravel section. This could mean a mile or more worth of off-road terrain you weren’t expecting.
  • Mile markers at every mile. Not always.
  • A “scenic tour” of whatever city in which the race is held. Sometimes turns out to include business parks or old, dilapidated neighborhoods.
  • Post race party with great food. How about a banana and bottled water?

Know of what I speak here? What would you add to this list? 

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  1. I usually don’t read too much of the race description because ignorance can be bliss (and stop me from stressing too much). But I’ve learnt never to listen to my coach about his impression of any particular course. Once he told me that a course was flat and I ended up having to walk up the last of a lot of hills.
    Char recently posted..Navel Gazing on the RunMy Profile

  2. Don’t let the race intimidate you, though. Even the novice runner can get ready in a matter of weeks.
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  3. How about a certified course that ends up mis-marked on race day and is significantly short or long?

  4. I usually find that race directors always exaggerate their races to tempt us to run them. My favorite is always the rolling hills and I am climbing hills that I would never have attempted, ever. This past weekend, my triathlon was the first race I have ever done that the amazing descriptions were fully depicted. Their race directors need to give lessons to all race directors because they were amazing.
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  5. haha!!! It’ s a lot like selling a house…”charm” means needs work…cozy means small :)
    Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted..A Life Without LimitsMy Profile

  6. The only one that really annoys me is the Mississippi marathon I’ve run a few times that routinely advertises hammer gels at mile 20 and does not have ANY. Not cool.

    A local 5k got mis-marked on race day due to construction on the roads and the results were reported as, “Results for the 3.26 km road race”. Haha! I love that the director just went with it!
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..Wearing yellowMy Profile

  7. Oh those rolling hills!! They are only rolling if you are on a roller coaster!!! One race I ran they were actually honest and said….”17 killer hills”. Oh were they ever right!!
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  8. Haha! A banana and bottled water sounds like awesome finish line party food!
    Nina recently posted..Koehlbrandbrueckenlauf Training: Week 4My Profile

  9. Ha! I’ve been to really hilly courses that they called flat in the description. Then the next year they amended it to say “flat compared to other TN races.” Um, a hill is a hill. It’s not flat just because it’s less steep than another hill in the state.

    I love post-race entertainment that is their teenage son’s garage band. Sweet!

  10. I raced a tri earlier this year that advertised the run as a mix of road, grass & trail. It was 100% trail with the only ‘road’ being a tiny parking lot in the middle of the park. I don’t run trails at all and haven’t developed the muscles that would help stabilize my ankles on that terrain, plus it was SUPER hilly. I’ve never seen such steep downhills. So this didn’t end up well for me, I was worried about turning my ankle or busting my knee which would have put me out for the season. However, it did make me realize that running some trails will probably help with strength overall.
    Michele recently posted..Clough State Park Race ReportMy Profile

  11. Flat, fast course!
    Jamoosh recently posted..Beer, Oldness, and Mother Nature Messes With MeMy Profile

  12. LOL! That is too funny. I have been lured in by the fancy writing skills of many of race directors. I especially love “rolling hills” description, you know they’re sitting there typing with a big smirk on their face.
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Hello AgainMy Profile

  13. Hahaha, the post race with good food is one I always see. I got really lucky with the Chicago RNR half…they have water/fuel/medic stops everywhere they said they would and more. Lots of volunteers handing out orange slices and such. I read rolling hills exactly how it is…I live in the mountains…lol.
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  14. “mostly flat” means there is one ginormous hill that will try to kill you a mile from the end of the race.
    Kari @ Running Ricig recently posted..I’ve created a monsterMy Profile

  15. I like the “fast and flat” phrase they use to advertise some races that are not “flat” at all unless you ignore the rolling hills within the course!
    Robin recently posted..10 Personal Running QuestionsMy Profile

  16. The food one is the worst! I swear, they always say it’ll be awesome and then give you sippy cups of water :)
    Heather@Just a Colorado Gal recently posted..Never ForgetMy Profile

  17. Those all made me laugh because I have heard them so many times. The one that usually gets me is the flat, fast course. A lot of times those are the courses that I curse when I am done because I didn’t see the flat & fast in it. With all that being said though, I do appreciate everything that the race directors do. They definitely deserve more credit than they get sometimes.
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  18. “Somewhat challenging course” – usually means uphill 90% of the way. Just tell it like it is – “The course blows monkey chunks but it’s the best workout you’ll have all week”. I’m okay with that! My biggest frustration – when the mile markers are WAYY off. At the Long Beach Marathon last year I ran a 5:30 mile (uh nope) and a 9 minute mile (uh nope) back to back and my pace never changed ;)

    And yes I have to say that Race Directors are amazing. There’s a local group out here and I absolutely respect the person who runs it because they have always put on the most amazing races.
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  19. Very funny:) I always get nervous when I see rolling hills!
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  20. It’s all relative, right?!
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  21. Great post!! Rolling Hills with breathtaking scenery = bustin your ass up a 12% grade along a fire road with your head hanging down and not seeing anything but your feet!
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  22. I had a race where they posted mile markers every, single mile, so they said. When I crossed the finish line (same route everyone took), it was only 12.2 miles not 13.1.
    shelly recently posted..Before vs. AfterMy Profile

  23. “Mile markers at every mile. Not always.” Or not at the actual miles. :)
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  25. Rolling hills… so true! I recently ran one race that they actually said “hilly and challenging” (which was very true). My FAVORITE description is “flat and fast.” If it says that, chances are I will be registering!!
    Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..A Timed Mile: Old vs. New PR’sMy Profile

  26. Too funny Amanda! Especially the “rolling hills” description – red flags go up every time I see those words!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..The knee watch continuesMy Profile

  27. do you think the jokes on us or the RD really has no idea? I actually know some RD’s of races that…. DON’T RUN! I think it’s totally bizarre. I’m not sure you should be organizing a race if you’ve don’t run them… ???
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  28. Ha! Yes. Rolling hills always makes me nervous… and I’ve learned to have low expectations for post-race food, then I can be pleasantly surprised if I’m wrong.
    Laura recently posted..School Lunch Ideas + Sweet Potato Energy BarsMy Profile

  29. I’ve only ever run two races and I definitely laughed at some of these based on my very little experience!

    The best was Spartan…21K…no actually we mean 25K. lol
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  30. LOL. I love it…

    I don’t know what to add, but there should be something about port-a-pottys. Either there being a lot or not enough.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..My Next Reading AdventureMy Profile

  31. haha! Love this. Yes, I scoff whenever I see “rolling hills” in the race description. Yeah right!! My favorite part is when the “scenic” course takes you through office parking lots. Nice.
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  32. … or half a banana!
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  33. You could add something about whenever you see the word “challenging” in a course description it usually means miserable. Also potto pottie locations are usually about as accurate as the water stop locations.
    Melissa C recently posted..Proud Mommy Moments!My Profile

  34. I think minimizing hills is the biggest one!
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  35. Oh. My. God. YES with the ‘rolling hills’ lies. My very first marathon was on Maui, and the last 8 miles of the course were short, STEEP hills that crushed my will to live (not to mention RUN).
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  36. I always think the elevation profiles lie as well!

    I’m lucky though, I’ve only run Rock n Roll events and at least for the front of the pack, the support with water and food is great.

    Another lie for great scenic course = scenes you will see 4 times as you make several loops to gather up those miles
    Liana@RunToMunch recently posted..A Great Long RunMy Profile

  37. Race directors around here like to advertise that their course is flat and fast. “Flat and fast” in Washington State is nearly always a lie–or at least a relative term. I’ve yet to run anywhere around here that is truly flat; there is *always* a hill in there somewhere on the course. It’s okay, though; I have learned to silently chant “hills are fun, hills are fun” when I get to them and keep going.
    Denise S. recently posted..Weekend wanderingsMy Profile

  38. hahaha! That is so true! I’ve fallen for the scenic tour, rolling hills and mostly flat many a time!
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  39. I don’t get the “rolling hills” description. Basically, if you’re going to a local race, you should know the terrain anyway. But you’re spot on – if that description is includes, there’s usually some three-quarter mile hill that will break you.
    David H. recently posted..12 things: Training thoughtsMy Profile

  40. Ha ha so true! I never ran a Rock n Roll race but I heard they lied with “bands at every mile” – more like every 5 miles, apparently! And what about races that advertise “great swag” and then give you a one-size-fits-all shirt, a koozie, and a bunch of coupons?!!
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  41. “Flat and fast” almost never is. There always seems to be a lot of truth bending about entertainment and anticipated spectators on the course as well.
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  42. Hehehe…The rolling hills / flat course are the ones that get me every time!!! This post started my morning off on the right foot =)
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  43. I think the best (worst.) was the one that said it was digitally timed – I read that to mean chip timed – and it ended up being the race director calling out people’s times as they crossed the finish line. He was reading them off from a stopwatch on his iPhone.

    No. Not kidding.
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  44. Love this! I would addPlenty of clean port-a-pottys!
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  45. Love it, Miss Z! This is the topic that acquainted us way back when. My favorite will always be that the race is a 5k when it’s really 2.9 miles, but who’s counting :) Good luck in the tri this weekend!
    Salty recently posted..Ariana Hilborn: You Owe it to Yourself to Chase Your DreamsMy Profile

  46. I’m a few days late reading this post because I’m finally taking the time to scroll through my reader (112 inread posts!). This is the lie my hubby and I tell about the course for the turkey trot we put on, “Flat and fst,” when we know perfectly well there is a 1/2 mile hill at mile 2.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Unapologetically StrongMy Profile

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