Grand Prix Marathon: Cut or Keep?

by EJN Comments (0) Articles, Commentary

Even before course mismanagement altered the outcome of the USATF-NE Marathon Championship (Manchester City), there had been chatter related to the event. A lot of people seemed to think that the distance didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the road Grand Prix Series. The chatter was getting a little louder, but then after u-turngate it seemed to really get loud.

So how did the dues paying members truly feel about the event? Was it just that the voices of those who didn’t want the marathon in the series were louder? Or was there enough weight to that opinion to consider some change?

We wanted to roll our sleeves up and find out a little more about it so we put together a quick survey. Now it is flawed, we realize that, but it is a nice way to get the pulse of the topic. For one, there was nothing stopping non-USATF members from voting. Another big thing was ballot control, since some crafty folk out there may have figured out a way to vote twice. It wouldn’t allow someone to vote twice from the same device, but for the sake of argument I think we can take this poll for what it is: a tool to promote discussion on an important topic.

The results:

It started out really close, with the two choices exchanging leads through the first 200 or so votes, but then the status quo took a firm grip on the lead and never relinquished. People were then asked to give us a little insight as to why they chose either option:

And if they didn’t want the distance:

But what would replace it?

After a couple of different (and pretty good) discussions over Facebook about how to improve the series, we see that the questions could’ve been presented a little better. Ah hindsight, why do you always have to be 20/20?

One thing that appeared to be getting lost on some was that the call for change is to make the series more competitive. It seemed that keeping the marathon would make for better team competition so then teams would focus on all the distances. The stronger, more well rounded teams would truly be recognized. Then there are the road warriors out there that just love competing at that distance and see it as the ultimate test. That makes perfect sense. A big argument for cutting the distance is that it’s such a grueling event that it’s exclusive to those who have to the time or the desire to train for it (not to mention the recovery). Would you call a 14:00 5k guy soft for not wanting to do the marathon? Seems to us like he’s just focusing on his specialty and jamming a marathon into the calendar wouldn’t help. Cutting the distance and focusing the series more on shorter events could make things more competitive all around and maybe lure in more young post-collegiates that weren’t ready for the long grind.

Or maybe there’s some middle ground there. It looks like the majority of people ultimately want to keep the distance in the circuit. Maybe no huge changes are needed then if that’s what the people want. One thing that seemed be evident is that a lot of people are interested in shaking things up, making some real improvements to the whole series. There is room for improvement and the level of competition can be increased (certainly in the marathon distance). Hopefully some good comes out of all these discussions and a new and improved series can be presented.

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