7.5 hour pacer gets called "fat and slow" at VLM (but why was she on the road?)

JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-48125731

At the risk of starting a massive flame war, I thought this one is an interesting one for a number of different reasons, mainly because pretty much everyone involved is in the wrong. VLM was wrong to have a pacer slower than the closure of the course, the cleanup crew was clearly wrong in being so rude to the back markers, but...(and this is what doesn't seem to be discussed on social media), the pacer was wrong to be running down the middle of the road after the roads were closed (as described in the course rules). It's an impressive lose-lose-lose scenario. 

Now I'm going to go hide under a desk and let the blood-letting commence. 
Tagged:
«134

Comments

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I agree, I don't think anyone comes out of this with any high ground.

    I read a post on fb of a friend of someone I am friends with (it appears to be a public post) and she took 8.10 to complete and her experience was awful. As you point out though, the course rules are clear and central London has to be re-opened at some point, however it was the abuse she received and the complete lack of basic assistance from officials still on the course which is completely avoidable.

  • StevieWhStevieWh ✭✭✭

    The race has an 8 hour cut off so the pacer wasn't slower than the closure of the course. Also if VLM are going to put a pacer on for that time then they should at least keep the course open.

    I think one of the issues was they were supposed to start at 10.40 but the back pens weren't released until 11.00

  • JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
    I think a lot of the problem is the way that VLM have setup, and "sold", the marathon. I saw lots of people at the back complaining about their marathon "experience" being ruined but the cleanup crews etc like they were entitled to having cheering crowds and open road no matter how long they took. The problem is that VLM, in their drive to be inclusive, have setup unrealistic expectations for people who don't know how races work and the fact that volunteers have to go home at some point and roads have to be cleaned/reopened. 
  • StevieWhStevieWh ✭✭✭

    I agree, and it attracts a lot of people who aren't runners and probably underestimate how far the marathon is. Don't get me wrong, I have huge respect for anyone that can keep going for 7-8 hours, cant imagine how tough that is!

    Just checked the VLM website, the course closes at 7 hour pace so having a 7.5hour pacer that is expected to run on the pavements is a joke.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    Yep, frankly if it took me 8hrs, which is about 17mm a marathon is the last thing I would want to do. I would limit myself to a half at most. I simply cannot see the fun or achievement in basically walking the course. It also deprives those that might have an ambition to at least try and run it, of a place.

    There are plenty of walking type events that are geared up to take this amount of time. People do also forget that the majority of people are volunteers and will all have to travel home somewhere beyond London.

  • Christ that is a long time to be out.  
    The problem is that the coverage never shows you these people on the road.  They show the pros and then the normal runners up to 430 or so when everyone is still enjoying themselves.  It give an unrealistic idea of what the race is like. 

    Sometimes I'll go back and get a shower and then come back to support at mile 25 or so.  I think that's about 6 hours in and there's a steady stream of people walking along - a fair amount of them crying.  It's not fun back there and even then you'll see the clear up happening around them. 

    Is the 8 hour cutoff new ?  They've definitely tidied away before that in past years. 
  • JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
    I ran London a couple of years back, in 6 hours, I was over weight and under-fit, it wasn't fun at all, adding another hour or two onto that doesn't bear thinking about.
  • Presumably the 8 hours is from the gun, not when the last people cross the start line, hence the '7 hour pace' comment.  Having a 7.5 hour pacer doesn't seem very well thought out at all - the vast majority of those right at the back aren't there by choice, they're variously people who vastly underprepared for it, people who got injured during the event, even some who stopped for a two hour break halfway round.  And those who do plan to take that long are doing it by a variety of means - some will just walk the whole way, some will be on some sort of run-walk and some will just be taking regular breaks.  'Pacing' them isn't really going to work.
  • GladragsGladrags ✭✭✭

    Agree - it's lose lose lose. And the 8 hour people probably did have a worse time this year than before as they were 20/25 minutes later starting because of the newly staggered start.

    We supported the 7 hour+ runners at 15 miles last year and it was like a war zone. One group of real stragglers actually swore at some spectators who dared walk along the course because they were "in the middle of a race".

    There is a whole community of run/walkers who enjoy park runs/race for life etc and who were led to believe London offered the same levels of inclusivity. Logistically it can't? Unless VMLM are given more time to hand the road network back, they have to stick to the clear up schedule shown on the website which is 8 hours gun time.

    The publicity has been bad though - expect it'll be gun time plus 9 hours next year?

  • JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
    Gladrags said:

    The publicity has been bad though - expect it'll be gun time plus 9 hours next year?

    I guess it can go one of a few ways, they increase the gun time and keep the roads open longer or they go down the route of the other majors and enforce the cut off properly and sweep everyone off the course and tell them the race is over. The latter of these two is unlikely to happen given the way they like to position the VMLM, the former has a lot of significant logistical challenges. At the very least you would hope they would remove the 7/7.5 hour pacers as that was clearly not a very clever decision given the course rules. 
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    I wonder if that would just shift the problem and you have people then taking 9.5 hours? 8 hours really ought to be sufficient. 
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    edited May 2
    En route for 8 hours?! No ta.
  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭
    I don't think gels would cut it. I would need a packed lunch.
  • skottyskotty ✭✭✭
    DT19 said:
    I don't think gels would cut it. I would need a packed lunch.
    They probably have one. Or maybe even stop for a pub lunch. 
  • GladragsGladrags ✭✭✭
    last year one of the backrunners we saw at mile 15 - on being offered a jelly baby she asked if we didn't have anything else as she fancied some crisps or a sandwich......
  • YnnecYnnec ✭✭✭
    skotty said:
    DT19 said:
    I don't think gels would cut it. I would need a packed lunch.
    They probably have one. Or maybe even stop for a pub lunch. 
    Time for a cheeky Cutty Sark tour, too.
  • JGavJGav ✭✭✭
    I get that running is supposed to be inclusive but I really think VLM needs a cutoff time like most other big races.  If you don't finish before the cut off time you are taken off course and don't complete it. 

    7+ hours should be sufficient to complete a marathon 8 hours at most.  8.5 hours is the same as the average walking speed, it's a run/race not a slow walk.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    I saw this on FB and it really peed me off.
    This is on the detailed instructions that EVERY competitor received:

    COURSE CUT-OFF TIMES We are required to keep to a strict schedule for reopening the roads to traffic, therefore you must meet the cut-off times stated below. The Course Closed Vehicle travels at a seven-hour pace and crosses the Start Line at 11:00, moments after the final participants. If you do not stay ahead of the Course Closed Vehicle, you will be required to move onto the pavement to complete the event. 

    The pacer failed miserably in passing this on to her 'charges'

    And then:
    8:00 HOUR PACE (MINIMUM PACE NEEDED TO RECEIVE A MEDAL AND OFFICIAL FINISH TIME)
    CUTTY SARK (6.5 MILES) - 13:10pm
    etc. etc.

    The vast majority of races have a cut off, I don't see how VLM have acted unreasonably. 
    Granted the clean up team may have been rude, vocal and unpleasant, but they had a job to do and it sounds as if the pacer was being deliberately obstructive too. The fact that she rants onto social media and writes to Victoria Derbyshire rather than liaise direct with VLM first gives an idea of what sort of person she is.

    Maybe put a cut off that if you're not at Cutty Sark by xx time, you're pulled off the course.
  • JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
    JGav said:
    I get that running is supposed to be inclusive but I really think VLM needs a cutoff time like most other big races.  If you don't finish before the cut off time you are taken off course and don't complete it. 

    7+ hours should be sufficient to complete a marathon 8 hours at most.  8.5 hours is the same as the average walking speed, it's a run/race not a slow walk.
    They kinda do, the problem is that there is a one hour grey area in between them closing the course and ending the race. At 7 hours pace they say the course is closed and you should run on the pavements but you will still get a time/medal etc, at 8 hour pace they say its done and if you finish you won't get a time. What they should probably do is stop it at 7 hour pace with a proper sweep truck/group and just say, race done. The unfortunate thing here is that the pacer was in this window between the two. https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/final-instructions/course/ 
  • SlowTortoiseSlowTortoise ✭✭✭
    The blue start was 15 minutes late for the people at the back. That was the problem. Not the pacer who was just doing her job and who got her crew back in time. It's not like she randomly decided to be a pacer without consulting VLM / Runner's World. She's the one person you can't blame

  • NellsNells ✭✭✭
    This is from the VMLM website (https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/final-instructions/course/):

    I had read elsewhere that the Finish Line was open to 7pm, but didn't realise they required anyone between 7-8hr pace to keep off the roads, which would include the 7:30 pacer I assume. It seems this information hadn't been passed on to her either because she would have been within this time surely? I think n 8hr cutoff is more than enough to be honest. They clearly can't keep roads closed, and volunteers, first aiders, clean up crews etc waiting all day for the final finisher, but I think they've been trying so hard to be inclusive they haven't communicated or implemented the cutoffs as you'd hope. And it doesn't help that they started the back pens 20 minutes late either I wouldn't think. I passed by Embankment Station just before 6pm (on my way home from a 10 hour volunteering stint, with others in my team still going) and runners were still on the road and being cheered despite the above.
  • NellsNells ✭✭✭
    The blue start was 15 minutes late for the people at the back. That was the problem. Not the pacer who was just doing her job and who got her crew back in time. It's not like she randomly decided to be a pacer without consulting VLM / Runner's World. She's the one person you can't blame

    But even if she'd started on time, she would still have been within the cutoff time to move onto the pavement wouldn't she? Why didn't RW communicate this to her in advance? And why didn't she see it herself in the Course instructions? I think it's a bit absurd to offer a Pacer that will need to take people off the course and onto the pavements after 6 miles to comply with the rules though!
  • OuchOuchOuchOuch ✭✭✭
    edited May 2
    Interesting about expectations. I went back to the finish, with some non-running friends who were fired-up at that point to see some other friends - about the time of the 5 h-5.5 hour finishes and the finishers faces were grim and the buzz pretty flat, sure it would have perked up later.   Also walked along the Embankment when the roads were being cleaned-up, still plenty of room on the roads and the pavements for people to finish their races and i and plenty of people were giving the marathoners rounds of applause.  As someone said, this seems to be a lose-lose-lose scenario but the media seem to love this type of contrarian story. 
  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭
    What'll happen is that anyone who thinks they will take 7.5 hours+ will lie and put themselves in one of the front pens so that they have more time to get to the finish.......

    Our local half has a "cut-off" when the roads are reopened and they ask that participants move to the pavement after that, but that they will keep the finish (which is on the running track) open until the last person finishes - and everyone gets a medal.  Ok, this is much easier when there are <5000 runners, but it is sensible. 

    Saying there is an 8 hour cut off but not being very clear that it is 8 hours from the gun is just asking for trouble.  But Nell's table is pretty clear as it has time-of-day rather than time elapsed.  Read the small print folks!

    (In saying that, I would have thought that an official pacer should have been given very clear instructions)
  • Snail2Snail2 ✭✭
    If the course closure vehicle starts just after the last starter and goes at 7:00 pace, then anyone starting at the back and going at a slower pace might have to move onto the pavement almost immediately, rather than at 6 miles. Which is what seems to have happened. It really shouldn't have been unexpected.

    Whether it was ever sensible to offer 7:15 or 7:30 pacers is debateable. Without them, runners being caught by the closure vehicles might have been encouraged to go a little faster.

    I'm not sure there was as much of a delay in the starts as is being claimed. Last year the final wave started at something like 10:40-10:45. This year everything was 10 minutes later, so probably scheduled for something like 10:50-10:55. Even starting just after 11:00 is less than 10 minutes late.
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭

    VLM's mistake here was in trying to be too inclusive. It's a race, it's not a gentle walk. It's not necessarily meant to be easy. I get that there's no losers, we're all winners and all that, but if there's a cut-off beyond which the roads need to be re-opened, then they need to have a cut-off for runners and enforce it. This cut-off needs to take into account that the people in the back pens will be delayed in starting. So if they have the roads closed for 8 hours then the cut-off for runners needs to be around 7 hours at the most? In this case, having a 7.5 hour pacer would be nonsense

    They need to be open and transparent about this and manage people's expectations. This may need them to say to some people "sorry but no - if you can't finish the race in 7 hours then you won't be allowed to finish, and we're not going to let you start". While this may not be PC and "inclusive to all", it's the logistical reality of the race, and it's what happens at other races.



  • JoelDJoelD ✭✭✭
    That's the big problem here I think, that grey area between roads closing at 7 hour pace (assuming an 11am start) and the 8 hour pace race end (where you don't get a time/medal). VLM should be clear and just have the race finish (and the roads re-open) at 7 hour pace assuming a 11am start and have a sweep truck at that pace telling people that they are out, harsh as that may be. 
  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    Rodeoflip, I agree I think, but they'd be on slippery ground with some of the back markers, and in danger of being called "elitist" which isn't what they want I'd have thought.  I know some regular marathoners (who would be towards the back of a lot of events) who call Abingdon elitist because of their 5hr cut off.  I've done Abingdon only once, but it is not elitist - it just generally attracts some faster runners.

    I love London - it's my favourite event.  But the focus for the masses is the charity aspect and I'd imagine the organisers want to preserve that, so it'll be interesting to see how they play it in the future.
  • Maybe a visible, enforced cut off would focus some minds when it comes to applying for a place and training? I doubt they'd have any trouble attracting enough applicants to fill the race a few times over even if they did that. The majority of charity runners complete within the time limit and being inclusive shouldn't mean 'the rules don't apply to me'.
    If you think you can or you think you can't you're probably right.
  • Big_GBig_G ✭✭✭
    edited May 3
    Little Miss Happy, yes, I would be up for clear cut offs, that were enforced.  But how would they actually be enforced - I presume it would have to be on time of day due to the spread of time it takes for people to cross the line?  In which case, in reality others may end up getting longer to complete the course if they start closer to the front then they should do.  In that case, if their chip time was over the allotted cut off time because they started in a pen closer to the front, would they then get a DNF?  Can of worms!
Sign In or Register to comment.