Great Bacon Race Fiasco!

A quick rant on how NOT to run a race…….

On October 12, 2013 I drove up to Vancouver, WA for the Great Bacon Race.  There was a full day of festivities planned with a 10K, 5K, 5K walk and even a kids race.  The website mentioned that this was the first year for this event and that it appeared to also be the first time that these guys tried to promote a race……besides that fact that this is one of the worst race websites I have ever seen, it did appear to be a decent race.

I arrived at the race start a good solid 80 minutes before race start. and made my way over to registration.  There were already over 100 people standing in line.  I made my way to the back of the line, about 100+ feet from the registration table.  I figured this might take 15 minutes or so to get through.  Holy crap was I wrong!  In 40 minutes we moved about 15 feet!  There were only 2 people running registration and they were taking day of registration in the same line as pre-reg participants.  They were so obviously understaffed and overwhelmed.

The theoretical race start for the 10K runners was now only 30 minutes away, and get this, the line was now at least 300+ people long!  The promoter made a plea for 5K runners to move to the back of the line and for 10K runners to  be allowed to the front.  That allowed me to move maybe 20 feet closer.  It became a fiasco up at the number pick up table too.  There were 3-4 people trying to hand out numbers, 2-3 people trying to hand out t-shirts.  It was a total MESS!

When I finally got to the front of the line and gave my name…..they could not find me on the list.  Luckily I had printed out my pre-reg (this ain’t my first rodeo) confirmation and I was given a number from the “day of” numbers.  By now it was 10 minutes to race start…….this is when they announced that the 10K start would be pushed back….but no mention of how long.

I quickly made my way to my car, got changed and did a 5-6 minute warm up.  Not knowing when the race would actually start there was starting to be a mass milling at the start finish.  After about another 10-15 minutes we were told 20 more minutes to race start.  They wanted to make sure all 10K runners were moved through the registration line.

20 minutes later we were told 15 more minutes.  At this time we are 45 minutes past the original start time.  The 5K race has been pushed back now too (obviously).  There are still well over 100 people still waiting in line at this point.

Finally and without warning, the race started.  Just shy of 1 hour late.  After most of us had  been standing around for 40+ minutes.  No megaphone, no sound system, no starting gun, just suddenly people are moving.  I quickly stripped down to my race gear and tossed my fleece on the side of the road.

Upon finishing, my name is no where in the results, my race number is assigned to somebody else and my pre-reg shows as a did not start (DNS).  Plus our 10K ended up being only 5.8 miles, not 6.2!  At this point I am totally pissed off.  If you visit their facebook page, you’ll see lots of other disappointed participants too.

I had a good 45 minutes to chill out before getting home.  The first thing I did though was email the race promoter.  I was polite and I thanked him for his time and for supporting the March of Dimes.  I did however point out how next year he can make his race run better.

Now, I’ve helped promote races in the past, worked sign-in tables, marked out courses, and I’ve participated in literally hundreds (approaching 500+ now) of running, biking, duathlon, etc events over my life.  This was HANDS DOWN the most inept and worst organized race I have ever been to.

My suggestions to the promoters included

  • Don’t mix “day of” and “pre-reg” people in the same line
  • Break up the pre-reg line into 5-6 letter blocks of the alphabet, it gives me a target while in line and moves things along much better
  • Assemble schwag bags BEFORE the event and include them with the participants numbers.  hundreds of us pre-reg runners got none of the promised “goodies”.
  • Communicate with your participants!  Most of us had absolutely no idea what was going on.

If you look at the race website, it looks like they were more interested in the promotional items associated with the race.  Cow Bells, bags, pint glasses, etc.  However, these guys need an in-depth tutorial on how to actually run a race.

Again, the funds raised went to a good cause, and it was their first event, with well over 1400 participants.  I personally believe they lacked enough support staff, and the fact that this was their first event was glaringly obvious.

Will I go back next year?  Not sure.  I’ve got 12 months to think about it.  They’ll need to change quite a few things to make up for this year’s fiasco.

Thanks for reading,

-Pete

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3 thoughts on “Great Bacon Race Fiasco!

  1. I agree Pete. This was very poorly organized. I had picked up my racing bib and shirt the Friday before the race, however, I was running with a friend who had pre-registered for the 5K run so I waited in line with her to get her shirt and racing bib. There were about 10 people ahead of us when they started the 5K run/walk. I waited with her and by the time we started, we were the only two running on the road, while all the 10K runners were returning, there were cars weaving in the road trying to avoid the runners. I got irritated and quit, while my friend, trying to improve her time from a previous 5K she had run, continued. I walked back to the house and saw a huge line already starting for the bacon, beer and taco’s. I vented to a friend about this and he said I should cut the event organizers some slack because this was their first event and to be understanding of the fact that they had to relocate the event (2 days before) because of the government shutdown. I think more volunteers, and your ideas, would have made a huge difference.

  2. I agree Peter, totally unorganized. You did well to continue this race as each step of the way got worse & worse. Perhaps you should organize this event next year by following all of your excellent suggestions. I hope your next race is a much better one for you to enjoy…Love Ya, Maggie

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