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? 

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge


  1. says

    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. says

    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.
    Robin recently posted..Pumpkinman Half Iron Race Report 2012My Profile

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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!

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. says

    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.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Bicycle Pub CrawlMy Profile

  8. says

    “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.
    Sheila recently posted..On Cupcakes and Sports BrasMy Profile

  9. says

    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

  10. says

    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

  11. says

    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

  12. says

    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.
    Rachelle recently posted..1311009702532_9795942My Profile

  13. says

    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