Sunday, April 16, 2017

Out of shirts? Cut the fee.

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 16, 2017

“Souvenir T-shirts to the first 500 runners,” the race website states.  How about, “T-shirts to pre-registered runners only”  or “Souvenir shirts while they last”.

What those headlines don’t say is what happens after the first 500 runners show up, or a runner registers on race day, or the shirts just plain ran out.  All of those things happen, and they happen often.

It’s not easy to figure out how many shirts to order four months before race day, and what sizes to order.   Will we come up short or have too many shirts?  Better to be short than be stuck with too many shirts. 

So try to plan on just enough or not quite enough.  From the race director’s point of view this is a fine strategic plan.

From the runner’s point of view, well, it stinks.  You show up on race day with your post entry fee gripped in your hot little hand.  You hand the nice volunteer your entry application and your check or cash.

“Thank you very much,” says the person on the other side of the table.  “We’re out of shirts. Sorry.   Have a nice race.”

Wait just a minute.  You paid extra, probably another ten bucks for your race day entry and now you walk away with a bib number but no souvenir T-shirt.

How does that make sense?

It wasn’t always this way.  Back when I first became involved in the other side of racing, the management side, our policy was to cut the fee as soon as the t-shirt people told us we were out of shirts.  Other races did the same.

In fact I lead a small rebellion directed toward races that did not cut the race day fee when they ran out of shirts.

But over time this practice has stopped and now no one, neither the race organizers, nor the runners being fleeced have seen the irony of this system.

Is it time to foment a new rebellion?

LAST WEEKEND RACES              

Although it was not a USATF championship this past Sunday, the Cherry Blossom 10K in Newark’s Branch Brook Park had a good turnout. 

Women outnumbered the men with 625 women finishing the race to 469 men.  Stephen Mennitt of North Brunswick won the race in 33:04.  Alexandra Niles, of Montclair won the women’s race in 37:12.   An outstanding performance was turned in again by Nora Cary, 62, of Morristown who finished the race in 43:43 for the top age grade of 91.39 PLP %.

By far the biggest race of last weekend was the Unite Half Marathon held at the Rutgers Campus in New Brunswick and Piscataway.  Michael Dixon of Fanwood won the race in 1:14:16 and Kristen Prendergast of Annandale was the first woman in 1:23:13.  Men outnumbered the women in the half marathon 1,413 to 1,142.

On the other hand, the women had it all over the men in the 8K that was run along with the half marathon.  Women 596 – Men 337.   Only a scattering of Morris area runners turned out for the races, but Jason Schweizer of Rockaway finished the 8K in 30:48 for fifth overall.

My apologies to Justin Scheid of Succasunna.  Last week’s column noted that he finished second in the Indian Trails 20K.  I threw an “e” onto the end of his name, thus changing Scheid’s gender in one stroke of the hand.   I am very sorry for the blunder.

Many area runners are in Boston to run on Monday in the oldest marathon on record.  The Boston Marathon was first held in 1897 and was actually shorter than today’s standardized 26.2 miles.  Many things have changed over the years but one thing that has not changed is that one must run a qualifying time in order to register in the race. All good wishes go out to the runners.

National coverage of the race will be on NBC Sports Network beginning at 8:30 a.m.  The elite women will start at 9:32 a.m. and the elite men and the first wave of faster runners will start at 10:00 a.m.


Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

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