Well, maybe they don’t, but it sure seems like it at times. It is like they’ve banded together and decided, hey, what can we do to make it impossible for this guy to run our races. We don’t like him, we don’t want him, make him go away…
I guess a little more explanation and background would be helpful. I work as an athletic trainer at a private school working with athletes in grades 7th-12th. And, for those that don’t know, an athletic trainer works in the field of sports medicine. We’re often confused for coaches, personal trainers, fitness trainers, etc. If you’ve seen a college or pro football, basketball, baseball or other game on TV you’ve seen an athletic trainer. Someone gets hurt; we’re the first one on the field to take care of them. There is more that we do, but that is relatively unimportant to this. What is important is that even though I get 2 months off during the summer, I usually work 6 days a week and occasionally on Sunday. I am the only one at my school that is qualified to work with injured athletes, so if I leave, I put my athletes at risk. I need to be here for all contests.
Believe me I’m not complaining about my job, or my hours, what I’m complaining about is how hard it is anymore to race during the school year. Trying to find a ½ marathon or full marathon (or triathlons) that I can do is almost impossible. It’s not that there aren’t any Sunday races or there aren’t any on my few Saturdays off, it’s just that they’ve become impossible for me to do, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
Every time I look for a race during the school year I check for days that I will have time to get out of town and get to a race. Granted it would be nice to race locally and save travel expenses, but how many ½ and full marathons are in your neighborhood? So, when I find a date that works for me, I look for races that I can get to in my limited travel time and budget. There are many places online that make it easy to look for races and just about every time I have several to choose from. Unfortunately, most are closed to me.
This is where the crux of the problem arises. I will find a race that looks like a possibility and check out the info for it. The first thing I look for is if they offer race day packet pickup. I’ll check, and nope, no race day pickup. Next I’ll look at when pickup closes the day before. Most of the time it is too early for me to get to due to work. Strike two. Finally, I check to see if someone else can pick up my race packet for me. NOPE! Strike three! I’m out. I got to the next race site, same thing. The one after that, again, same thing. The next, yep, no go.
It gets frustrating as hell. I need these races. They help provide motivation for my training, allow me to see where I am physically and it gives me a release that training alone can’t do. But race after race, I am blocked from doing. And the trend is growing. Ten years ago this was never a problem for me, but each year there are fewer and fewer races that allow same day packet pickup or allow someone else to pick up your packet for you. And, it makes no sense.
Is the Taliban really going to target the Podunk Corn Fest Marathon and strap a bomb to a runner and make him detonate it at the finish killing 4 people and 2 cows? I don’t think they’re really interested in it. Am I going to sell my race number to the Small City ½ marathon for a huge profit? I don’t think so. So why can’t someone else pickup my packet? What’s the big deal? Is it because I registered online and so didn’t actually sign a release form? Hell, I’ll download it, sign it and either mail, fax or email it in. What’s the big deal?
Like I said, I’m sure I’m not the only one that faces this difficulty and I’m sure that many of you are able to work around it, but do you really want to? Who really wants to give up a vacation day or personal day just so they can make it to packet pickup on time? I’ve known people that raced locally and had to take a ½ day off to make it to packet pickup on time. This is a trend that really makes no sense and needs to end. I’d gladly stop by a booth race morning to show ID, sign form, whatever to prove that it really is me racing with the number I was assigned. Ban me for a year from all races nationwide if someone else ever races with my number, whatever it takes, but let me race!
Why do race directors hate me?