Winter Wanderings

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This is our third GSRS Race Directors blog, an effort that began a few years ago. The goal is to share information about our services, as well as ideas to help you improve your races. It is being sent to all of the road race directors we have worked with over the past few years.

What are Athlinks results?

GSRS sends your race results to multiple online sites, in addition to our own website. One of those is Athlinks, which bills itself as "the largest results database for competitive endurance athletes in the world." Runners can go onto this site and search for their own results, often stretching back into the 1990s. When they find their results they can "claim" them by creating a free account and in the process can create a historical listing of all of their results that they can share with friends and competitors. You can read more about Athlinks here. They also maintain a helpful and informational blog on all kinds of race-related subjects that every race director should check in on periodically. And see their page of White Papers, too.

Race Schwag

Teeshirts and medals seem to be the most common giveaways that runners receive at races, but some are questioning their worth. Dave McGillivray brings up some good points in this Runner's World article. Some races are trying out new ideas. Check out what the Gear Guy has to say in his Runner's World column. One kind of award we often see are handcrafted specialty items that have some kind of meaning related to the race or the community. At the 8 Tuff Miles race in the Virgin Islands in late February, race director Peter Alter took the remains of a tree that Hurricane Irma flew down in his front yard and had a local artisan craft them into small plaques that he gave out to all of his age group winners. And instead of race teeshirts, race director Ed O'Connor gives out knit winter hats with the race name on them for his Yulefest race in Cambridge every December. It's not uncommon to see them all over the Boston area.

New World Record

It's not every day that someone breaks the indoor mile world record by more than a second, but Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia did just that with his 3:47.01 mile at an invitational track meet in Boston last Sunday. I wonder what Sir Roger Bannister would have to say about that!

Decreasing Numbers

If you've noticed that the number of runners in your race(s) have been going down over the past few years, you're not alone. Industry experts say that most road races are experiencing a slump in entries of late. The New York Times had a recent article about it, citing an industry trends report from RunSignUp. One culprit seems to be a relatively flat number of participants being spread out over an increasing number of events. At a recent ChronoTrack timers conference some of us attended in New Orleans in January, they told us that after studying years worth of race results from the Athlinks database they have learned that there is a noticeable correlation between the state of the U.S. economy and participation at road races. You'd think that a healthy economy would mean more runners, since people are more likely to be able to afford race entry fees. But statistics show just the opposite. When the economy is doing well, road race participation is down. Apparently this has to do with the fact that in hard times people tend to turn to cheaper recreational activities, such as running, instead of expensive travel and gym memberships. So our current downward trend in participant numbers is likely only temporary, waiting for the next inevitable swing in our economic fortunes. In the meantime, if you are putting on a road race and just expect runners to show up without much effort on your part, we have three words for you:  Promote, Promote, Promote!

Historical Results

We have recently added historical race results to our enhanced race result pages for your race. We have searched online for all results going back as far as possible for all of the races we time and added links to them on our own results pages. So whenever anyone brings up your race's page on our website - either the informational page that comes up in google search results, or the results page for your current year's race - they will be able to easily check out the results from previous years, even if GSRS wasn't the timer. Very few results go back before the mid 1990s when coolrunning.com started posting them, so if your race is older than that and you still have printed results tucked away in a file somewhere, send them to us and we'll get them online for you.

We'll close this blog with our sincere thanks to each of our customers for their continued confidence is our services. We look forward to working with you again over the coming race season.

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