(Originally published May 12) The Sporting Life 10K race in Toronto this past weekend had a few fails -- undermanned water stations -- but the worst was at the end, where mass congestion hit the finish line. I ran this race and have been updating this post since. So far, the race sponsor, the charity have given a response -- Canadian Running has interviewed the race director.
The response here has been tremendous, especially on my original post. You can read or posts comments at the bottom of the original post.
|Photo from MySportsShooter|
UPDATE, May 28:
It's two weeks, two days since Sporting Life 10K, and Get Out There published a statement from the race organizer. First things first, there is a "solution" to the finish line issue. So, good, they're conceding that there was an issue on their end as opposed to pointing at runners. Those solutions include staggering the start and opening up access to the park post finish (which was a massive contributor to the congestion.)
Here's the full statement from Get Out There (h/t to Andrea for pointing it out)
We recognize that there was an issue at our finish line this year that made it difficult for many of our participants to cross due to overcrowding. We are working on a solution so that next year, all our participants will easily and freely be able to cross our finish line without encountering a wall of runners.
In anticipation of an increased field in 2014, more time will be allocated between the waves; these times will be increased to 15 to 20 minutes. We will work with the city to close Lakeshore Blvd. between Bathurst and Strachan Ave. to allow our participants easier access to Coronation Park without having to stop for traffic. We will continue to work with the city on our course and road closure plan so that we can better accommodate both our participants, supporters, and Toronto residents.
The Sporting Life 10k and its sponsors are committed to providing our participants with a premium running experience that will elevate and inspire all.I'll look on to see how they address other issues -- specifically the water stations and volunteer recruitment and course marshals. In the meantime, I have passed along names to Sporting Life who asked for runners to potentially join an advisory board, with transparency -- no response from them on that.
Other posts on the Sporting Life 10K 2013
- Jay Glassman on inexperienced runners and race etiquette
- Behind Sporting Life 10K's white ribbons and why we're so mad
- Runners tell Toronto why races matter and what needs fixing
- Runners on what they would change about Toronto races
UPDATE, Tuesday May 14:
Steve sent me this YouTube clip that is not easy to watch. It shows a woman needing medical assistance. It took a few minutes for medics to arrive. Say what you will about preparedness, and whether the response time was fast enough. That's not for me to say. Here's the video.
"Medic! Medic!" "Come on, Toronto!" "That is unacceptable, this is Toronto."
Go to 9:11 in the video for the start.
UPDATE, Tuesday afternoon:
Alex Robertson from Camp Oochigeas wrote this in the comments. See earlier reaction from the race director to Canadian Running below.
Thank you for your support and participation in the 2013 Sporting Life 10k supporting Camp Oochigeas. This year’s race hosted an incredible 27,000 registered runners, and raised over 2 million dollars to support camp. Our partners at Sporting Life have been incredible to us, just as our donors, volunteers, fundraisers and runners. Your loyalty and commitment to camp is inspiring. And we appreciate your feedback. We know that Camp Ooch’s success relies on the support of you – our community – and your input counts. We recognize that, if we are to continue to grow this event there are things that will need improve so that it’s not only one of the biggest runs in the country, but one of the greatest too. Thanks again.
Executive Director, Camp Oochigeas
Canadian Running Magazine covers the finish line "chaos" and interviews race director Jay Glassman. Read it and let me know what you think but I see him laying blame on runners.
“We had people in the chute trying to keep people moving, but we also had a lot inexperienced runners stopping,” Glassman told Canadian Running Monday afternoon. “They don’t know they’re supposed to run it out.”Really, Jay? First, you're blaming runners and not your organization? Does anyone have pictures of the police roping off Fleet Street? Yes, see below. Runners were stopped after the line.
How's this rebuttal?
@canadianrunning I was there and it was a HUGE issue when I was leaving the finish chute, right around the time the blockages peaked.
— Kate R (@mk_robinson) May 14, 2013
@yumke That's ridiculous. I managed to cross the finish line okay than waited 5 minutes for cars to cross Fleet.
— Andrea S (@AndreaMS108) May 14, 2013
|Ummm. What's this, then Jay? From MySportsShooter|
And maybe an apology is in order?
@yumke Not what I was expecting in the fallout. An apology would have been a good first start.
— Alison (@Fueling4Fitness) May 14, 2013
@canadianrunning Blaming inexperienced runners is terrible, just like the terrible water stations and the terrible bag check!And as one person wrote, this reaction is starkly different than how the CRS dealt with the bag-check fiasco.
— EmilieSmith (@EmilieSmith) May 14, 2013
@yumke Difference of degrees perhaps but can't help but note contrast between this response and CRS response to bag check probs at STWM'11.
— Alison Warrian (@AliWarrian) May 14, 2013
UPDATE, Monday afternoon: John Roe from Sporting Life (which is the title sponsor) wrote this in the comments. Thanks John for the note and do let us know if there's action. John confirmed over email that this was in fact from him. Bold emphasis mine:
My name is John Roe and I am the Director of Marketing and Advertising for Sporting Life. I have been looking after our 10k for nearly 9 years now. We too are not impressed with what happened yesterday and please all be aware that we are going to do what is neccessary to enure that our "little run" that could will live up to your expectations. We do listen to our customers and we do react when reaction is needed. We will take the steps nesseccary to make the run/race the quality event it should be.Our goal has always been to have an experience for aspiring and competeing runners while raising a lot of money for Camp. Both can co- exist
Thank you and keep the posts coming. we are watching and we are listening.
Also, Mark, gave us the heads up that race photos from MySportsShooter show exactly how bad it looked like.
|Photo from MySportsShooter|
UPDATE, Sunday evening: A video of the finish line shot today and uploaded Sunday night shows just what it looks like for runners to come to an abrupt stop. It's dangerous, not easy to watch some of these guys just try to warm down. See the video below. It shows the finishes probably not long before it really got congested -- not sure if the videographer shot something from a little later in the race.
Lots of runners aren't pleased, leave your comment here. Another blogger Mike wrote a nice post about the races we deserve. Also, Marie on the disaster she could sense was about to happen and Alison on what type of race the organizers were going for.
I don't like writing these pieces but we have to call them as we see them. The organizers of the Goodlife Toronto Marathon last week and this week's Sporting Life 10K 2013 (chip results are here) are way in over their heads. You know it, they know it, and it's time to call them out.
Is Kenny being overreactive? Hmmm. Why don't we pull out this picture I took BEFORE we passed the finish line.
|Yes, this is us waiting, coming to a stop before we hit the last timing mat.|
I've never, ever had this happen to me before. I've run 85+ road races, 23 marathons and dozens of distance races, big and small, cities across North America. Today, I did not run today as a race but rather as a fun run. I met with two friends and we did a light run down Yonge Street. Started the day by running up 10K to the start line where we chilled out for a bit. By running more mid-pack, I was able to see some of the issues we had encountered
The few water stations were barely manned -- not even close to where you need to be to support a race of 27,000 runners. (It looks like 21,838 runners finished 2013, up from 17,549 in 2012.) I've run the Marine Corps Marathon where they support 30,000 runners and each water station needs plenty of man power. Even smaller scale races have better water support.
|20,000 plus runners|
As many of you know, I was a pace bunny at last week's Toronto Marathon, run by the same organization. My pace group had major water issues -- on a much warmer day. We simply didn't get the water and Gatorade we needed. I didn't blame the volunteers then, and this time I don't. It's the organizers' responsibility.
If you read the reviews of last week's Marathon on My Next Race (scroll to the bottom to see 2013), you'll see why the race as of this morning was ranked 49%. The Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, run by the Canada Running Series, scores in the 84%
Complaints for last week's race from participants included:
- No bags at the race expo
- Poorly managed water stations
- Lack of marshals on the course
- No instructions for the 5K start, they also ran out of medals
Another blogger, Christina, wrote about last week's water woes including having volunteers filling cups directly from hoses. Here's some feedback from someone named Juliette about last week's race.
During the race, the water stations were poorly run…Some ran out of water, others were in line waiting for the volunteers to scoop water out of the buckets. Usually, the aid stations were lined up full of cups so you don’t have to wait in a long line in the heat! I will never run this nor recommend this to anyone. It’s very expensive and it was a joke of a marathon.
Today's race had the same problems
- Too big a crowd that they could not manage, even with a wave start. They didn't keep the runners moving post race which caused everything to back up. Fleet Street traffic flow favoured car traffic over human. What was behind that?
- Water stations were crap -- end of story -- and I knew it while I was making my way up Yonge Street earlier in the day
- Lack of any communication to the racers throughout the corral. Only one speaker system near the front
- Some runners reported they ran out of the shirt sizes on Saturday, handing out XL sizes.
To the organizers -- get your act together. If you're getting the money in, then spend appropriately. The Canada Running Series had a bag check fiasco that I documented on this blog in 2011. I really think they got their act together and fixed it and the race is better for it.
Ball is in your court, Toronto Marathon folks.
See below for comments. Comments and reviews from My Next Race. Some Tweet reaction below.
Umm, ok. Any runners seen this b4? Congestion at the finish, becos cars come first in Toronto. Insane #SL10k twitter.com/PostTweetism/s…
— Mike Post (@PostTweetism) May 12, 2013
With half-assed water stations, apathetic volunteers, crowded finish lines, @torontomarathon is making the race choices easy for TO runners.
— Sam S (@ssykes1) May 12, 2013
@apmckay @typopl @yumke same here. I selected Men's M in January and only had choice of Men's XL, XXL or Women's XXL at pickup
— Dave (@DBRunsTheWorld) May 12, 2013
@christadavidson @yumke @torontomarathon Most frustrating part was at finish with a 30 second hold up to cross the mat #notgood
— Andrew Chak (@andrewchak) May 12, 2013
@yumke Looking at the Sun Run organization would be a good start. More corrals, tight controls, space out the field over an hour at least.
— James Koole (@jameskoole) May 12, 2013
And if you ever wanted to sum up the city's support for racing, look no further than this video. Sigh. -----
On a more positive note, usually at some races, I'll bump into people who say they've come across the blog. On my way up, I met Kevin, who introduced himself. He ran Mississauga and thanked me for the race strategy. You're very welcome Kevin and good to meet you. Then later, while we were lining up at the Green corral, I met Salim (I think that was the spelling of your name) who told me he was researching my blog as he preps for his fall racing season. I'm so glad to meet fellow runners on the road -- I love writing this blog and I'm happy to see some people find it useful as they embark on their own training journeys.
The race itself? Pretty fun. Did it in around 58:26, nice conversation, and fun to chill out and enjoy the course, which is beautiful. Bands were great too.
|Me and two work buddies, Allison and Dawn.|