On Changes To Race Start - Letter

Rich Maclone’s article about the Falmouth Road Race “pulse” start shows that neither he nor assistant director Matt Auger ever spent any time in the middle or back of the start area as the race was about to  begin. I was a team leader managing the start for more than 25 years until I and many others quit after Kathy and Rich Sherman resigned in 2011.

No one was “ushered into corrals” as Mr. Maclone said, and the feedback on how the start was run was overwhelmingly positive. The article is inaccurate and an insult to the many people who helped run one of the most efficient and friendly starts in the country, modeled after the acclaimed Bolder Boulder 10K, with some 50,000 runners.

When I was volunteering, runners relaxed along the harbor or the surrounding lawns in Woods Hole until a few minutes before the start. Then they walked to their ample starting area and waited until their group began. There was no pressure, no claustrophobia, and no need to line up until about 9:45 before the 10 AM start.

I am sure that the real reason that the race is changing the start is to save money on fencing and because of the departure of dozens of experienced volunteers over the past few years who helped runners find their starting places. These volunteers arrived in Woods Hole by 7:30 AM in exchange for an entry into the race, so they could help in Woods Hole and then run. This 25-plus-year tradition was ended by the new race regime and more than 100 excellent helpers stopped coming.

Using an “honor system” for runners to line up by their projected time is unrealistic. Even if nine out of 10 runners cooperate, the 10 percent who don’t (1,300) will line up where they choose, and jog or walk, often three or four abreast, at a 10- to 12-minute pace, making it very difficult and frustrating for faster runners to hit their pace. They will be furious. I know; I was one of those faster runners years ago.

I urge Mr. Maclone to talk to a few of the faster, but non-elite runners after the race, and find out how this new system really works.

Joe Barravecchio
Wolcott, New York

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