This morning, I ran the OTMH Classic 5K race in my town. I’m attached to this race for that reason; it is one of the first races that I ran after years of not racing; it is one of the first races I ran with the family there. Today, I ran this race for those reasons – and because friends were also running it, and because the kids at school simply expect me to race when it is in their town.
Going into the race, I had hoped to finish under 22 minutes and I wanted to finish as a top Master. I was certain that I’d be able to beat last year’s time of 22:36 as, so far, I have had a pretty incredible season. So, I waited at the start line, focused and listening for the gun to go off.
Gun time. As far as I have noticed, few Ontario races are using gun times these days. I found out later that it costs a lot more for organizers to have a timing mat at the start line and at the finish; our organizers opted to just have a finish mat so that more money could be put towards the charity the race was supporting. While warming up, I thought about gun times. It would make is so easy to cheat. Do you remember Boston? Washington? In both marathons, female runners went off course, grabbed a subway and joined the runners at a later point. I’m sure it has happened in other races too. And, it happened today.
When I reached approximately 3.5 km, this woman, whom I hadn’t seen at all during the race, came running from a side street and jumped into the race – just ahead of me. I did a double-take, and I’m pretty sure that the men around me did the same thing. At first, I thought she was adding an extra loop to the 5K distance, giving her a 7 or 8K run. Then, I saw the timing chip around her ankle and I watched her pass another gal. I was miffed; what was going on?
As soon as I finished the race, I followed her and then asked a friend to get her bib number ( it was curled up when I saw her and non-readable). And, of course, I mentioned it to one of the officials.
I was irked. I ran the race and wanted to finish in a certain time and a certain place. I wanted to feel good about how I ran. This just made me angry. From my point of view, this woman had not run the entire course; she ran the last part.
But why? It was a local event – a fundraiser for our local hospital. Was she trying to impress someone? Was she trying to trick someone? I entertained the idea that she might have needed a quick pit stop but this was a well-manicured residential area and there were less than 2 kilometres to the finish – and, as I already wrote, I did not see her earlier in the race or at the start line. As it turned out, the officials did take me seriously. The finishing time for this runner is not attached to any name, which can only leave me thinking that I was right.
Did I finish under 22 minutes? No, it was hot and it was a hilly course; my finish time was 22:32, 4 seconds ahead of last year.