My friend cg9m responded to my recent post on club-races organized by NYCRuns and I think it worth comment as it is a legitimate concern about the impact:

relieved to see that most of this new club series will be held in the nyc boroughs. i’ve previously stated my fear that it would spill out to the ‘burbs and destroy the community feel of events there. it’s one thing to have a handful of super-competitive people show up for a small town race, and quite another to have an event dominated by them. i think a large city-runner contingent could very well ruin a formerly pleasant experience. i’ll point to the fairfield half as an example. i ran that race in prep for the sf marathon a few years ago. it is the biggest mess of an event outside of manhattan in which i’ve participated. the only good things were that they had enough water (partly b/c of residents hosing people off on the course) to cool people down, and water/gatorade stops. at least when i went thru (several thousand participants). but there were separate starts for men/women (different streets!) and when they merged it was utter chaos. the streets were too small to handle the volume of runners. it was insane. i won’t even get into the bus system to the start. ugh. times ten. miserable miserable experience. oh- no start mats, either. but i bet it was a wonderful course (and race!) back in the day.

and you want to do that to rye derby. that makes me so sad. (i feel like the lorax!). i think that event was already ruined by the change in start time. even were i still a resident, i wouldn’t run it. it was held in the afternoon to accommodate the crowd for which it was targeted. the race is a fundraiser for the ymca “healthy kids” initiative- raising money for kids’ sports. i think the start time allowed for families to attend religious services in the am, and run the race in the pm. the problem became that they offered ‘decent’ prize money. and that attracted the “serious”. and now it seems the race is geared more for them. that’s awful. i looked at results post-change, and overall participation is down by about 100 runners. maybe you think you can change that by creating a displaced/disgruntled nyrr manhattanite circus of your “type-a” crowd. great. i guess rye ymca can benefit from raised entry fees. businesses can benefit from extra patronage. but what happens when it becomes a fairfield type event? another zoo? the ‘great cow harbor race’ out on long island has successfully dealt with this sort of thing, having wave starts, and puts on a decent event, considering. but it’s not a “small town” race. it’s just a better production than fairfield.

at least there’s still the rye rec turkey trot 5-ish miler. since the distance is slightly off (5.2), maybe that’ll remain safe from the doberman-rottweiler breeds.

She mentions two fine suburban races, the Rye Derby and the Fairfield Half, both among the best of races in the area outside of NYC. Both races have a history of bringing in a bunch of fast folks with prize money but once they finish they revert to a more-typical suburban race. Both have very nice courses. Fairfield is too far away for consideration — when I did it there were not separate men/women starts — but I mentioned Rye because I think it the top road race in Westchester. (It’s put on by the Taconic Road Runners.)

Would having club runners show up destroy it (and, by extension, the other traditional races that would be considered)? Right now, there are fast guys in the race itself. Yet the race, as cg9m says, retains its local feel for those who wish to experience that. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I don’t think that my presence has altered the community-nature of the event. Indeed, that’s the case is most Westchester races. There may be one or two or more faster folks but they don’t detract from the enjoyment by the rest. Would having a few more guys going 25 or 28 detract from Rye, or Tuckahoe? Would it lessen the enjoyment of those for whom the race is their once-a-year run? She says that participation is down in recent years. I think that, if it is related to the race becoming more serious — although I’ve always thought of Rye as pretty serious — that’s unfortunate. But, still, there is a  paucity of “serious” races in Westchester with competition, and an abundance of the not-serious ones.

cg9m points to Fairfield, saying that the it has gotten too big and there is “chaos” on the course. I can’t see that happening in Rye because the first 3/4 mile or so are turn-less and the field would get spread out pretty quickly. I think if there are logistical issues, they can be handled, as they apparently were in the Great Cow Harbor 10K on the north fork.

Also, I don’t see a particular suburban race being part of the series every year but that there would be some rotation. But that’s just an idea.

But these are legitimate questions worth considering, and I would hope that any race asked to be part of the series (it’s not my series) would take these things into account.

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