Hating on the 5K

by - Tuesday, October 20, 2009

After running Sunday's race, I am completely annoyed with the 5K.

I like the fact that a 5K is an easy distance to run that requires absolutely zero training at this point in my running. I can pretty much register the day before, show up not fueled properly and know I will at least be able to cross the finish line. It doesn't pose the challenge that any other distance poses. The only challenge left in the 5K for me is improving my time.

What I hate about the 5K is that it brings out all amateurs who know absolutely nothing about race courtesy. Like in this Sunday's race, the BF and I lined up in the middle of the pack of people with timing chips on their shoes. For some reason this year, the idiotic race directors decided it would be smart to have the timed runners and the untimed runners start at the same time.

So we lined up, the gun went off...and no one moved. Finally there was some shuffling. Then we crossed the start line and there was still some shuffling and very little running. When I finally got my bearings and wasn't about to trip over someone's feet, I noticed tons of people walking from the get go and people without timing chips who had started in the front of the pack.

I hate people who don't follow common race courtesy and while I know this happens in longer races, it always seems to be the worst in 5Ks. If you're going to walk the whole race, start at the back of the pack. If you're not a timed person, start behind the people who paid extra money to be timed. If you're the race director, go back to what you did last year -- having the timed runners start 15 minutes before the untimed runners.

Chances are, the people who paid extra for timing are a little more serious, more prepared, know how to line themselves up at a start line and don't want to deal with the jostling and dodging around people who line up in the wrong place.

I think this mostly happens in the 5K because it's a lot of people's first experience with racing because it's an easy and manageable first distance. I don't mean to turn people off of running or to sound like a running snob. I just think people need to be more aware of common race courtesy. Running should be fun for everyone participating. If people line up where they are supposed to, there's such a better chance of that happening.

So for now, I'm kind of over the 5K. That's not to say I'll never run one again. I probably will. In fact, I may be running one next month. But it will be much smaller than Sunday's. Otherwise, I'll stick to 8Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, etc, races that actually require some level of training and probably cull out the amateurs.

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14 comments

  1. yea that's why i like the 5 mile distance better. keeps those people out of our way.

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  2. You're very right!

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  3. I ran a race last year and it started to rain right after the start. I was caught behind 5 "racers" that pulled out umbrellas (from where, I still don't know). They spread out from one side of the road to the other so their umbrellas wouldn't touch and no one could get around them. Then they gave the runners trying to get around them attitude since they might get wet if they took their umbrellas down.

    This was a 3.5m race so the 5K doesn't have an exclusive on it. I try to keep the shorter races to races with smaller number of runners (<600 or so) unless there is a corral system based on previous results.

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  4. I usually end a 5k feeling like it wasn't worth it...for what ever the reason it just doesn't satisfy!

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  5. I think that sometimes the chaos at 5k's is partly due to the lack of organization by the race director... but not always. Sometimes there just people out there that don't pay attention, or don't realize how annoying they can be!

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  6. i was annoyed during run for the zoo b/c casual runners lined up way to far forward. however, this situation with untimed and timed starting together is more the RD's fault than the participants. Why couldn't they wait 5 or 10 mins between races?

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  7. I've always wondered why when the race directors and everyone are saying "slow runners, walkers and people with strollers to the back" they all move forward?

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  8. woa! I can't believe that people could do that! As a slow runner, I'm so damned embarassed (at least early on) that I WANTED to be at the back!!

    Kick em in the shins! That should do it. :D

    kelsey @ kelseytoney.com

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  9. I agree. There are many people who are just starting out running and have no clue what they are really doing. The race directors should realize this and go over a few things before the start of the race. It would make things more enjoyable for everyone.

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  10. Yea, but they have to start somewhere...

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  11. haha this is so true, and it is frustrating! i try not to hate too much, since the 5k is how most people get their feet wet with running (on the c25k and all). but... it is irritating. hopefully next year the komen organizers will re-separate the groups!

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  12. Fully agreed! I have taken to yelling and sometimes even gently bumping walkers out of the way in some of these races just to get into a groove.

    I have found that the one way to avoid them entirely (other then staking out a starting position an hour or so early) is to do more "winter" races as these tend to be inhabited more by real runners then walkers and novices

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  13. I did a Jingle Bell run this year that when you sign up you kind of pick the time you think you will finish in. The first heat was actually faster then I'd ever run (finish in under 25 minutes) but I signed up anyway because I didn't want to get stuck behind the walkers. And surprisingly I wasn't last and I think other average runners did the same since I was in the top half at the end.

    I even get annoyed when groups run together and they spread out like that. I mean seriously, you all need to run side by side? How about in twos if you can't handle not being with a buddy.

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