Nightmare Personified

Course Confusion

From this angle, I was supposed to continue left and not go in.

Live Well Half Marathon Course DisasterMy biggest nightmare in racing materialized at the Live Well Half Marathon that took place on March 26, 2022, in Greenville, North Carolina. Observing the course map with countless turns, I worried, based on the small field, I would be running a large portion alone and become confused in certain sections. When I entered a stadium of some sort with no sign or marking for a long stretch and tens and tens of cars lined up, filling up the space, I did not know if I made a wrong turn. Somehow I found my way around the maze, and 9 or 10 miles in, I had to run through traffic with no police officer or official and send an exaggerated motion to the drivers to not run me over. With just over two miles to go, still on pace to easily come in 1:55 and potentially 1:54 and full of energy, I saw a sign with a straight arrow but tilted and pointing toward the right, which I interpreted as turn right. There was another turn that followed, followed by another and another, but I knew I had already completed this section prior. I screamed, asking for help, with no volunteer, race official, or runner anywhere near. I had no choice but to keep going, and I even took out my phone and opened the Waze app to determine how I would return and tried calling the race to no avail. I continued redoing the section I had already completed, and when I frequently asked strangers if they had seen runners, one group pointed me farther back, where I ultimately ran into a half-marathon participant I recognized. I knew where I had landed, again, and turned around and kept going the way I went originally. When I came back to that vague sign, I ran straight this time and saw the mile 11 sign, which told me I was not supposed to take that right turn. I no longer had the desire to push hard and naturally slowed down in the additional miles, crossing the finish line in 2:23:30.31, with my new COROS Pace 2 reading 15.95 miles, which likely means over 16 miles based on the previous mileage signs.

Live Well Half MarathonIf I had not been having such a fine run, I would not have been as upset, but I pushed my way through to nearly the end just to be misled by one sign that required me to do an additional 5K. My 49th half marathon and 82nd race, this course must have been the most poorly organized and frustrating. I have gotten lost in races previously, but never have I ever had to complete another 5K in just a 13.1-mile run. I relayed my concerns to the race director, who remained cordial and appreciated my feedback. I may have to squeeze in another race next weekend just to wipe this bitter taste off my mouth. The only consolation would be that I found my way back and was able to complete the entire original course, as I thought at one point I would have to quit because I did not know where I was going. For the rest of my amateur running career, I may no longer register for a tiny local running event in which the course has an inexplicable number of turns, as I am frankly sick and tired of having to make not getting lost my main focus rather than running to the best of my ability.

2 thoughts on “Nightmare Personified

  1. That is horrible. It’s bad enough when they don’t have the distance correct.
    Even with a small group of runners they should have had some cyclists kind of marshalling the course for you.
    Some race directors don’t understand how things like this can hurt their reputation and the race that they are working for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! If they do not have sufficient volunteers, they need to try not to make the course so unbelievably confusing. I would be amazed if that sign confused only me. The race was going so well, and I had only ~2 miles to go, which made this a lot more frustrating. At least the RD was humble and cordial when I brought this up to him. I am still really annoyed, and this was not even that cheap.


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