Grantham Running Club’s Ian Williams headed to the town of Quedgeley on Sunday 30th December to take part in the Gloucester 10 mile road race. Ian had picked the race specifically to qualify himself for the Men’s Club Champion category of the Club Championships, which requires four scoring races from a minimum of three specific distances.
Sadly for Ian and the rest of the competitors taking part the event and its aftermath generated into something of a farce. The first finishers to cross the finish line did so in a world class 46 minutes, only for it to be revealed they had been sent the wrong way by a marshal and had only run around eight miles. Worse was to come as it appears that a ‘visitor’ travelling through the area and not a marshal sent some (perhaps many) of the 400 finishers on an incorrect route that saw them run in excess of ten and a half miles. This included Ian, who crossed the line a very fine tenth in 1:03:33, recording on his GPS unit a distance of 10.57 miles.
When organisers became aware of the issue, a full investigation was launched and subsequently the race was declared ‘ZRD’ on the Power of 10 website, a rarely used distinction when the distance of a race is either unknown or non-standard. It meant that the race wouldn’t count as an official 10 mile PB for Ian, even though he had very impressively bettered his previous 10 mile PB by over 30 seconds, despite running the extra distance.
Unhappy with the how the race organisers had let him down, Ian complained to them. After several emails and in a move that may be unprecedented in the history of road running, the organisers agreed to amend Ian’s finishing time to 1:00:08 – the time the popular sports activity tracking website Strava gave Ian for his ‘Best estimated 10 mile effort.’ Moreover not only did they amend his time, they promoted him from tenth to second in the results! This time and position was then reflected in Ian’s Power of Ten profile and in the results on the Run Britain website.
In great form and improving rapidly, hopefully Ian will soon be able to find a 10 mile race that will most likely see him break 60 minutes with relative ease. Hopefully too this will be (presumably) the first and last instance of a race accepting Strava estimated times as bonafide finishing results. The prospect of revisions being made based on what individual runners’ GPS units measure is one that could potentially throw road racing into chaos!