On Sunday, January 21 2018
LONG DISTANCE RUNNING COMMITTEE WILL MEET FEBRUARY 6
When the USATF long distance running committee meets each fall, usually in September, individuals are welcome to submit proposals for changes as to how the various events are conducted. Most often these deal with components of the grands prix. After many years of the New Balance sponsored individual grand prix, things are pretty much set there.
The biggest change for that program was to make all participants their age at the beginning of the year what will be their age at the end of year. If you turn 50 on December 31st, you are 50 the whole year. You are still 49 in the individual races that you run for age division awards.
That was settled years ago and eliminated a confusing and complicated system of handling those aging up into a new age division within the year. It does give those who age up later in the year an advantage as they are the youngest of the youngest in their new age division, but it was accepted as the fairest way to handle the problem.
No, there are not too many issues in the individual grand prix, but oh my, every year a few people try to tweak the team grand prix to make it fairer or simpler, or – well - here’s some ideas; too many people required on a team, not enough people required on a team, team declarations are a nuisance, ten year age divisions are too broad, should a mile be in the grand prix? Should we have a coed grand prix. In fact, this year those very items were addressed by participants at the September 2017 meeting.
A proposal that would eliminate the team declaration by just allowing the computer to assign all team members into a team as they registered. This would work if there were only A teams, but USATF rules do allow for B, and C, etc. teams. That proposal was essentially tabled until the kinks could be worked out, if at all.
The merit for such a rule is that it would eliminate the team captains from having to wait to see if all of their team members were “on the ground” before turning in their team declarations. This is a headache for team captains who are also running in the race. Often their warm-up is delayed or non-existent.
What’s the old saying, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”? Not exactly apropos of the next proposal but similar. Some long distance runners cross over into track distances and they love to run the mile. On the other end of the spectrum are the long, long distance runners, who would rather not run even a 5 kilometer race (3.1 mile), let alone run a mile.
We now have a road mile championship, and all of our championships fall into the team grand prix. This does not make everyone happy. A proposal has been submitted to recognize that the mile has championship status and teams will compete, but the race will not be in the team grand prix.
Where did all those age 40 to 49 women come from? Are there too many of them? Only three women are currently required for a W40 team to score. Let’s change that to four women.
Ah, but let’s solve that in a new and innovative way. Let’s create five year teams like we do when scoring individuals. We do that in the individual divisions because it is recognized that as our runners grow older, there is far wider disparity between the younger members of a team and the older ones. In the 40 to 49 division there is not that great a disparity but in the 50 to 59 span, the 60 to 69 span there is. Forget about it once the runners are in their 70’s and beyond.
So, let’s create five year age division teams. Let’s reduce the number of members on a team that score to account for the smaller pool of runners in a club for each team. Let’s have the teams declare up to six runners and then score the three fastest. Or maybe declare seven and score the four fastest in the younger age divisions of 40 through 54.
In 2017 the President’s Cup Night Race 5K in Millburn in June had a coed division. Wouldn’t that be interesting if all of the championship races featured a coed division. Not a corporate coed division, but a USATF division, and let’s keep it in a separate grand prix.
All of these suggestions will be viewed, debated, argued and settled or tabled at the long distance running meeting at the Madison Y on February 6th.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at email@example.com