Friday, August 19, 2011

Great Idea! Saving Food for the Final Race Finishers

At the end of a long race, I want my bagel!
It happens to us walkers all of the time. We get to the finish line of a runner-dominated race, and there is nothing left -- no bagels, no water, not a banana to be found.

Though not having food by itself is frustrating, the attitude of the early finishers and the race directors is what is most frustrating. Often, complaining does nothing. It doesn't stop me from complaining, but it usually does no good.

Rather than re-hash a bad situation, I'm going to fast forward to 2011 to recognize a race doing something I think will be great!

In this month's email newsletter, the Columbus Marathon announced that new this year, "More, easier-to-carry finish line food  – we will have it packed in a bag for you!"

I'm sure many people read that and didn't think a thing about it. My first reaction was, "Wow! They listened!" If you are one of those you do not get the significance, let me explain. When there are just open tables of food, early finishers grab all of the good stuff, more than enough for one person sharing it with their non-racing friends and family, meaning the people at the back of the pack who actually paid to be in the race and need food get nothing. (I'm sorry. I am not going to re-hash.)

When finishers can go through the food line and just be handed a bag of food -- one of each item, enough for one person -- then there is plenty of food for everyone, and the people at the end of the race (who paid to be in the race) get food too!

My friends and I saw the success of this type of finish line food distribution at the Detroit FreePress Marathon. (Back when I was boycotting the Columbus Marathon.) We finished the race, entered the food line and each of us was handed a bag with a bagel and other goodies, we grabbed a bottle of  water, and then we moved to an area to rest. Somewhere along the food line, a volunteer put a mark on your race bib indicating you had received food and you could not get back in line. It worked great!

To some this will seem a little severe. What if you don't want a bagel, but you would rather have two bags of chips instead? And I hate to think about the number of volunteer hours that will be needed to make this work.

But measures like this ARE necessary if we want to have large races with people taking as long as 7 or 8 hours to finish. As long as you have 4-hour marathon finishers who see the TONS of food and think it won't matter if they take a couple of extra things for their friends, we need strict regulation of finish-line food.

I thank the Columbus Marathon for listening to those of us who take a little longer to finish! I really appreciate your trying to make a tough situation work for everyone. And I especially appreciate your putting such a positive spin on this new program. Thank you!

First you offer shirts in women's sizes and now you are working to make sure everyone gets food! It just keeps getting better and better!

PS: To the guy at last year's race who walked off with a BOX of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and ignored me when I said, "Someone behind you might like a doughnut, too" -- plans like this are because of you!


eqmom3 said...

Thanks for your efforts. I think it's a wonderful idea.

Cindi said...

I'm excited. I'm thinking it will help clear out the congestion for those trying to leave the food area, too.