Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ethics in Course Creation

For those of you who follow my blog, you know that beside my running and pacing, I race direct a couple races each year. I also volunteer and coach on occasion as a way of giving back.

I came across a statement from a smaller relay in Colorado called the Colorado Relay that claims Ragnar Relays is stealing race routes from other races across the country including theirs. I looked at the maps supplied of the various courses and I have to admit that they look very similar.

I've participated in a variety of relays including Ragnar ones. As a runner, it is fun to get with a group of like-minded people running. It's fun to mix it up and test my skills in different environments.

As a race director, however, I know how much work goes into putting on a race. I've only done 5k and 10k races, but there is a lot of work involved. With my last 10k, I started organizing the race in October of 2010 for a June 2011 race. I spent a lot of hours looking over maps, working with local police and city, running the course, driving the course, etc. By the time the race happened, I knew every turn in the course, every incline, every potential traffic problem. The course became mine. For a relay, I can imagine how personal a race becomes.

These two courses look really similar to me.
The race director for the Colorado Relay claims that Ragnar came in and stole his course and claimed it for their own. The only difference is that Ragnar is running the course in reverse. In addition, Ragnar originally was running the course on the same day as the Colorado Relay. If I had created a course as large as these relays are, I would be very protective of my course. If a race started and finished in the same general locations as mine, that would be fine. But, if the entire course were copied, I would be steaming mad. While there is no regulation on how a course is created, there is an underlying code of ethics involved. When I run races, I am always looking at how the course is set up, what vendors they have, etc.

Ragnar is a large enough company that there is no need to use an already created course. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this. Is it flattery that a large company is using a route already created and running or are they just being too lazy to create their own unique course?

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