Saturday, 26 September, 2020

Avoiding Ditches & Puddles When Racing

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Turner 3 years, 10 months ago.

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    This is Adam Pollock’s response to the Blog Roll Roulette question: “Do you think that racers should avoid ditches or puddles, if staying within the course markings? Where is the line?”

    My knee-jerk reaction to this question was “always run through them!” It’s probably what the Race Director intended, and isn’t it partly why we all do these races? To challenge ourselves and get as muddy and wet as possible?

    However, it’s not as clear-cut. If you’re racing, seeking a quick time, why wouldn’t you take the fastest path of least resistance?

    I’ll openly admit that at one point during the recent Judgement Day race, those in front of me tiptoed delicately round the outside of a massive puddle. Not wanting to fall behind, I followed suit [hanging my head in shame].

    If it’s still within the course markings, and you’re not explicitly told or meant to go through said puddle, then I reckon any route is fair game. Or am I now just trying to justify missing out the massive puddle at JD so I can sleep better at night… ?

    What do you think?



    Its a tricky one because strictly speaking if the runner stays within the course markings they’re not cheating. However in the ‘spirit of the sport’ every ditch or puddle should be run through, but where’s the dividing line? If a ditch takes up 50% of the width of the route can it be skipped and if it takes up 80% does that mean it’s compulsory??

    I think what we’ll find in practise is that 80% of people on the course will go through every puddle and ditch because they’re there, but up at the top end of the competitive racing I wouldnt be surprised if you saw more people do what they can to gain an extra few precious seconds on their rivals. Unless every ditch is marshalled (which is completely impractical) then there’s nothing to stop it.


    George Marchant

    The answer should really differ as to whether they are racers or (fun) runners.
    The problem is as you experienced that when one starts doing it others follow, and there is a grey area around taking the easy path (someone pulled down half the wall ..I know which way Im going!)

    The “well known popular race” I attended recently there were a number of people habitually cutting large sections of the course both staying within and even going outside the tape even from lap 1. I have little idea which were competitive runners, although some names did appear in the provisional list of qualifiers. Those may or may not have submitted notes withdrawing themselves from teh rankings since then (although they must’ve gone back to the OCRA tent to presnet their bands so Im guessing not)
    I try not to get too upset about that, “they are only cheating themselves” etc but even the ones who havent short cut to qualification (which may or may not have cost others a place) still diminish the kudos for those who genuinely completed the full course and challenge.

    I had it at another race (with league points) where the runner behind me completely bypassed the last wall (staying within course markings) without even trying and finsihed ahead of me in the final rankings (a that point we were 7/8th over the line in wave 1)

    As for course marking … the tape is really there to help keep you on track and show you were to go, rather than to actas a formal lane marking as in track running. It should be pretty inherently obvious that to have truely completed the course that the obstacles have to be crossed or at least attempted.
    Races will have their own specific rules on certain ones that can be skipped, and there will be some that some comppetitors simply cant complete .. but things like endless ditches and puddles which are really just energy sappers should be completable by anyone vaguely able bodied.
    Cutting whole sections of those just because the tape runs round the edge is really pretty hard to justify unless you are going to remove yourself from the final rankings.
    There is a role for race directors here to be clear on what is and isnt OK for their race and to put marking in such a way that the obstacle covers the marked course and it can only be bypassed by going under the tape.

    But y’know ..positive OCR family spirit and inclusiveness. Its not cheating, its just playing by different rules and we should embrace it for the diversity of the community.
    It does seem to be a culturaly accepted norm even amongst some of the stronger competitors to do this sort of thing.



    Short and sweet – I love ditches, but less fond of puddles.


    Laura Heywood

    I could have written Adam Pollock’s response myself.
    I also pretty much agree with everything George Marchant has enlightened us with. What is most frustrating is seeing women take top 10 spots when, in fact, if you look at the photos of those ‘women, it is quite obvious that there are men running in the women’s bibs! Grrr! Anyway, that little grumble is off-subject. Apologies!


    Dave Walton

    And what about when the course is SERIOUSLY cut up? Marshalled Major at the weekend and the first wave had fairly good terrain to run over. But by the time nearly 1400 runners had churned up the course can you really blame a runner for skirting the gooey stuff if they can?


    Andrew Appleton

    I think it’s up to the RD to make sure the markers direct the runners through the point of entry they require. For purposeful puddles or mud sections have taped funnels that you cannot miss the entry point.


    Des Crinion

    If they absolutely want you to go through a ditch or water feature then it is straightforward, make the course markings narrower than the feature so there is no choice. However, if it is possible to go around the side and still remain inside the course markings then this is fair game, it is within the rules, simple as that. Always stay on course, always do your penalties and always race fair!


    Steve Turner

    Personally, the events I have enterted for fun I will always attempt to run through every ditch and puddle just for the hell of it!
    However for the odd event where I have wanted to ‘race’ or post a good time then I will be looking for the easiest thus fastest route and probably avoid ditches and puddles so long as it is not cheating and does’nt take me out of the race markings then I am fine with it.

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