Saturday, December 17, 2011

Race #157 - Columbia Half Marathon - Columbia, SC - 12/17/11

The Columbia Half Marathon is one of 22 races in the USRA Half Marathon Series held in cities around the country. It was the 12th half marathon in my quest to run at least one half marathon each month in 2011. Uh, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this or not but I missed the half marathon I had scheduled for November because we had company, and according to my wife Linda, "Nobody cares about that streak but you." After I thought about it for a minute I realized she was right, so I skipped it. No big deal really, because she's right. I'll still try to run a half marathon every month if there's one that I'm able to run, but I won't get too bent out of shape if there's not one, and some months maybe I'll run more than one.

Beginning with this race I've got a brand new Race Rating system in place. I believe it's much more objective than my original rating method since it's mostly yes or no (you can see the details below). I decided to make it add up to a maximum of 100 points so it should give a better idea of how each race really stacks up against the others. I designed my first rating system in about 15 minutes after I had run around 5 or 10 races, so I feel like I've learned a lot since then about what's good or not good about races. Of course, I could never be completely objective since it's still partly based on my own observations, but it should be better than before.

One reason for a more comprehensive rating for each race is that it's easier than writing about each race. I'm not really a writer but I do want to document my races so at least I'll know I'm still hanging in there and maybe I'll refer back to the ratings in case I plan on going back in the future. Currently my job has me too busy to spend a lot of time on a blog so I'll possibly just write a couple of sentences about a race unless there's something great I want to share.

Hope you like the new rating system, and if you think I can improve on it let me know and I'll definitely consider it. It's just some things I thought up one afternoon and I'm sure I've left out some items that might be more important to others than they are to me so let me know if you think something should be changed.

Oh yeah, we were talking about the Columbia Half Marathon...

Something I should probably mentioned is I really liked this race. There were a lot of great things about it and very few negatives. Having said that, the total of 75 points out of a possible 100 would lead you to believe it wasn't great, but with my old system of rating it would have easily been over 90. The new ratings will definitely be lower and there's no way that ANY race will reach a score of 100, but I do think it's pretty fair the way it's set up and over time the best races should still have the highest scores.


Click Here for Race Results

Click Here for Race Website

My Stats:
Time:  1:33:34
Pace:  7:09
Age Group:  1 of  12
Overall:  18 of 290  (6.2%)

Alejandro Arreola (left) Overall Half Marathon Winner
Richard Hefner (middle)
Bob Heck (right) 9th overall


RACE RATING  (100 Possible Points)

RACE COURSE  (20 possible points)
3 - Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 - Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 - Water Stops: (at least 1 for 5k, 2 for 10k, 4 for half marathon) (2 points)
1 - Course Marking:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 - Course Scenery:  (0)bad  (1)good
1 - Mile Markers: (0)poor or none  (1)normal  (2)with clocks or time called out
2 - Volunteers:  (0)too few  (2)good
2 - Finish line: (0)mediocre  (2)pretty good to excellent
2 - Certified Course: (0)no  (2) yes
2 - Correct Distance: (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Partly or fully on unpaved roads:  (0)yes  (1)no [half mile stretch of gravel road]

REGISTRATION  (6 possible points)
1 - Cost:  (0)expensive  (1)reasonable  (3)cheap!
3 - Race Day Registration:  (0)no  (3)yes

RESULTS  (3 possible points)
2 - Posted promptly online:  (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Clear link on website:  (0)no  (1)yes

AGE GROUPS  (13 possible points)
2 - 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 - 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
0 - 14 and under group (1)
1 - 65+ group (1)
1 - 70+ group (1)
0 - Top Overall M/F:  (0)none or first only  (1)top 3 or better
1 - Masters Category(40+): (0)no  (1)yes
0 - Grand Masters Category (50+):  (0)no  (1)yes

AWARDS  (9 possible points)
1 - Overall Winner Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
2 - Age Group Awards: (0)none  (1)yes  (2)excellent
0 - Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no  (2)yes
3 - Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no  (1)yes  (3)really cool medals

POST RACE  (7 possible points)
5 - Food for Race Participants: (0)none  (1)some  (2)adequate  (5)a feast!
1 - Entertainment:  (0)no  (1)yes
1 - Finisher times posted after race:  (0)no  (1)yes

REST ROOMS  (4 possible points)
0 - Porta Potties:  (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful
2 - Indoor Restrooms: (0)no  (1)limited, long lines  (2)plentiful

T-SHIRTS  (8 possible points)
2 - T-Shirts: (0)no  (2)yes
2 - Design: (0)not good  (1)not bad  (2)nice
2 - Material: (0)cotton  (2)technical fabric
0 - Discount for no-shirt option:  (0)no (2)yes

PHOTOGRAPHY  (12 possible points)
0 - Professional Photography: (0)no  (5)yes
0 - Prices: (0)expensive  (2)reasonable  (5)cheap!
0 - Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.):  (0)no  (2)yes

PARKING  (8 possible points)
2 - Close to Start:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Close to Finish:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Plenty of spaces:  (2)yes  (0)no
2 - Free Parking:  (2)yes  (0)no

WEBSITE  (5 possible points)
0 - Dedicated race website (0)no  (2)yes
1 - No dedicated site but separate page on other site (organization, running store, etc):  (0)no  (1)yes
2 - Results or link to results posted on website:  (0)no  (2)yes

OTHER  (5 possible points)
0 - Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no  (2)yes
0 - Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no  (1)yes, some  (2)excellent
1 - Part of race series or Grand Prix:  (0)no  (1)yes

TOTAL:  68