Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Course limits - what it means behind the scenes

As a race director, I am constantly looking for ways to improve what we do for our runners.  Our team strives to support the HMF community by delivering top-notch experiences, taking extra steps to provide safe, challenging, rewarding race events.  When there’s question about a policy, we want to assure you that policies are set with purpose and explain why.

Course limits are a reality of race management, and are relayed throughout our event communications on course pages and in final instructions.  There are many factors - road permits with specific time allotments, local law enforcement staffing, medical team management, SAG staff and event volunteers have to be planned around those limits.

There are a number of reasons why it’s imperative that we remove bibs from runners who decide to stay on the course beyond set limits. When the course is closed, event participation is over.  While we respect a runner’s personal decision to finish a race on their own, we can’t provide support for participants past those limits.

A runner on the course with a race bib signifies event participation, which is particularly concerning to local law enforcement.  Even though those bibs numbers are called in to our race command, local police are not going to track our bib numbers list to ensure we’re following protocol and staying within our event permits for use of the roads.  That seriously jeopardizes the approval of permits for future events.

We work to account for all event participants prior to course closure - taking the bib when a runner is contacted signifies to race command that we have specifically communicated with that runner to ensure they do not need services (medical, food, transport, etc).  We are responsible to make sure they understand we cannot provide services for those that continue to run the route on their own.

It's really not a simple issue in any way.

That said, we certainly understand that runners who finish in any time are proud of their accomplishment and want to show for it. We’ve had requests that bibs be returned to runners who finish on their own after course limits.  While it would be logistically very difficult to provide their same bib/bib number, we can make sure they receive an official bib from the event. The participant needs to contact our office within a week of the event date and request a bib be sent to them, we can make that happen.

We’re working hard to make your event experience memorable, and we ask that you consider there are many factors that go in to race planning and logistics.  If at any time you have questions, just contact us.  We’re happy to share with you how and why decisions are made and open to considering if there’s another way we can do things – sometimes there is and other times there might not be, but we can’t even try if nobody’s talking with us about it!!


  1. Great explanation on this subject.

    In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talked about a "maven trap" as a way of learning and listening from mavens. In the book he gave the example of the toll-free telephone number on the back of a bar of Ivory soap, where one could call with questions or comments about the soap. Gladwell's opinion is that only those who are passionate or knowledgeable about soap would bother to call and that this is a method by which the company could inexpensively learn valuable information about their product, and listen those who deeply care. My point is those who care about bibs has more valuable information, and they are also the ones who stayed the course the most. This was again smart move by HMF, and it shows they care about their customers, and listened to them. Again to some bibs are just a piece of paper, but to other it means a lot them. I heard from few people whose bibs were taken last week, and I encouraged to contact HMF. I'm glad HMF is offering this service for replacing the bibs. Great work

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