Tuesday, September 2, 2008

nike human race 10k: race report


one reason i looked forward to the nike human race 10k was a chance to revisit randall's island. i hadn't run there since the nyrr icahn track summer races in 2007. the second reason was for the post-race all-american rejects concert. the overall experience was fun, but the race itself was the most poorly organized event i've ever participated in. while the level of enthusiasm from the volunteers was great, it couldn't take away from the awful (no, dangerous, is a better word choice here) course conditions 10,000+ runners had to contend with to finish the double loop course of the island.

race instructions directed runners to line up no later than 5:45 (for the 6:00 start). runners walked from the rear to the front to reach the time appropriate starting position. i can't remember a time it took so long to weave, bob, dodge, slide around, slip past, et cetera - just to reach the 8 minute pace section. all that work and we just stood there. a variety of excuses were tossed out, but the bottom line, the race went off a half hour late. it took me (from the 8 minute pace section) 2 and a half minutes to cross the start line!

then, somewhere near the end of the first mile we entered this man-made corral that was bordered on either side by huge orange sheeting. it was one of the most claustrophobic running passages - if only because of the sheer volume of runners funneled through that narrow space. i could only image the damage that would befall the runner unlucky enough to trip and fall along that stretch of the course. ironically, i made it out of that horrible stretch only to have a runner stop short right in front of me less than a mile down the road.

i swerved head-on into a plastic course divider - knocking it over and, luckily, just bruising my ego in the process. so far i was not having fun - and, funnier still, was working way too hard to maintain an 8:30 pace in the crowd of runners i was running with! i kept thinking that once the first loop was out of the way the crowd would thin out a little and we'd get some breathing room. no such luck. there were occasional pockets of space - but, overall, runners were crammed into unending narrow roads.

in a sign of possible trouble ahead - we crossed a narrow footbridge to complete the first loop. a left turn and we were retracing the route. but while things slowed down on the bridge for that loop, the came to a dead standstill the second time around - when the finishers turned right off the bridge and headed into the stadium to finish on the track. when i approached the bridge for the second time - it was crowded with walkers - literally - on their first loop! they had taken over both lanes of the small bridge and wouldn't let the runners pass on the right to finish! in all my races i never heard so many expletives being screamed at fellow runners! it was not only unsafe - the runners coming to a crushing halt and unable to cross the bridge - but downright ugly in the level of vituperation!

i hesitate to paint such a negative portrait of the event. but honestly, "what were they thinking" is all i kept saying to myself?! putting 10,000+ runners in such a confined space and no course controls whatsoever?! a prescription for disaster for sure (and a miracle no such disaster occurred sunday night)! from my perspective, getting through 2 loops of that course under those conditions was demoralizing and mentally exhausting. the amazing thing, the all-american rejects put on such a great concert that it made being there totally worth it!

here are my splits:

1. 8:54
3. 17:38 26:32
4. 8:11 34:43
5. 8:05 42:48
6. 8:24 51:12
0.2 1:34 52:46

one thing is for certain, my decision on running this event next year will come down to one thing (and utterly non-running related): who will do the post-race entertainment :D


check out the race photos.

check out the all-american reject concert photos.


Kevin said...

Man, and I was complaining about the race in Austin. Geez. That sounded terrible. I havent made my mind up if ill do this next year. but if i will, it wont be in austin.

johnking said...

Boston 2009 sign up today??? You in?? I am debating because I wanna do New York 2009.

Nora said...

You got pace sections?! London didn't even get an attempt at that. It sucked. Though maybe that's what the waves were supposed to do? (All we were told at sign up was 'elites wave 1', though.)

But yeah, I completely agree, the planning sucked. Your course sounds about as 'well planned' as ours - not very!

And at least you got a good concert. Our pre-race entertainment bit.