Friday, July 21, 2006

Gay Games marathon gets last minute course change

Hmmm...I'm not sure what these people are thinking. July days in Chicago tend to be hot and humid, and the organizers of the Gay Games are only now figuring that out? Actually, the weather forecast for tomorrow is somewhat favorable for the marathoners.

This press release discusses the course change. The Gay Games Marathon will take place Saturday morning.

The Saturday 22 July 2006 Gay Games marathon route has changed to more adequately ensure the safety of the athletes. The Marathon will start and finish at the lakefront just north of 31st street beach, just south of McCormick Place. The course will take the runners south on lakefront trails to 49th street and then back north near the start locations. Marathon runners will run four loops of the lakefront course. Half-Marathon runners will run two loops. The course will no longer go north to Fullerton as planned.

Four loops? Bohr-ing!!!


"Changing to a shorter looped course will help ensure the safety of the runners," said Nancy Harris, Logistics Director. "Last weekend's extreme heat led us to re-evaluate the longer course and conclude that for athlete safety we need to position water and relief stations much closer together than traditionally provided in a marathon. The new course ensures that marathon runners will always be much closer to trained volunteers and medics so that any health-related issues may be handled immediately." The decision was made in cooperation with City of Chicago officials.

The high tomorrow is forecast to be 79 degrees. By the time most of the runners finish, about 10am, the high of the day will not have been reached. Besides, it's always a little cooler near Lake Michigan in the summer. So I'm not sure why they changed the course.

Will the new course be accurate? USA Track & Field is the organization that certifies courses as complying to the distance promised, which is 26.2 miles for a marathon, 13.1 miles for the half-marathon.

To a person, runners ask of two things from a race organizer: Plenty of refreshment stops (it looks like the Gay Games is covered here) and an accurate course. I'm not so sure that the latter will fulfill expectations.

Chicago has an unhappy history with marathon course that are tinkered with at the last minute, as participants in the defunct Lakeshore Marathon discovered last year. Those runners had to contend with an extra mile added to an already long race.

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