Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lamenting the Demise of the Local 10K

Over the last two weekends, I have participated in two local road races that have been in Atlanta each for over 30 yrs.  These races used to be quite a big deal and drew the fastest runners in the city.  And you all know how much I love to race.  One course is a very hilly half marathon - Run the Reagan - which is known for being a tough course and has suffered over the years by moving from February to April and back again hoping to draw the crowds that used to come.  They have even added 5K and 10K distances in hopes of bringing in those runners wishing to run a Peachtree Road Race qualifier.  The last time that I ran this half marathon was back in 2011 (now I have been living in Cleveland for the past 4 winters and it was postponed due to weather in 2012 when we had an ice storm in Atlanta) and there were 400+ finishers.  This year a mere 102.  Yup, 102!  Are runners too scared to come run this very tough course? Are runners reluctant to drive "all the way" out to Snellville? Are runners not satisfied to run a hard course that won't generate a PR but will require a good effort to run? Are there just too many other races in the Atlanta area on a given weekend? (There were other 5Ks around, but not really that many).  But that is a definite decrease in participation.  As for the 5K and 10K, they were decidedly smaller as well. I thought well, Reagan is a tough course, but the race next week will bring a much larger crowd right?

After all, I ran the Reagan Half as a training run myself - and was extremely surprised to find myself 2nd in my AG with only three entrants - just three in the F55-59 AG?  Wow, really?  And my time was good for a training run especially on a difficult course - but only three of us, really?

Me at the finish of Reagan

So fast forward to this past weekend, and the running of the 34th Chattahoochee Road Runners 10k. Now this has always a been a fast course (even with the course changes over the years) and most runners used to run either it or this coming weekend's Charles Harris 10K to get their PRR qualifying times.  These two 10Ks have the reputation of being flat to slightly downhill and fast.  Now I had not run this 10K since 2007 opting for Charles Harris a couple of years and then of course, spending the last four years in Ohio.  Well was I surprised when I finished 1st in my AG with a time of 46:23 - not that it is a bad time, but still the race was only 480 participants way down from the last time I ran it with 1500 10K runners.  So maybe the addition of a 5K decimated the 10K numbers?  Nope last year there were 521 5K finishers and 430 10K finishers - not exactly 1500 runners.
Alex, Courtney & I at the Start

So where has everyone gone?  There are still lots of runners out there as the Publix Marathon that will be held on March 19th is sold out (the half still has plenty of entries available.  The Boston Marathon turns runner away.  Are there so many small races out there that the runners have been diluted?  I know runners who seek out the smaller races so they can win a medal in their AG.  I'm seeking out races so I can see how I stack up to my AG competition.  Has running society changed so much that we just want to show our friends on FB on medal on Monday morning?  Have I become just an old  runner hoping for the good old days?  I'm not really that interested in posting pictures of medals (and here I am ranting in a blog - lol), I'm just seeking out competition and hoping that I'm still running in another 5 yrs, and I hope the Run the Reagan Half Marathon and CRR 10K are still  there for me to challenge myself.

Me at the Downhill finish of the CRR 10K

Until then.........1L is still running.  Always Boston Strong.

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