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Subject:For Solo Runners - new "refreshment zone" rules - prohibition against "accompanying"
Bulletin: ImageDear solo 100K and 50K runners,

I am writing this message to all you solo runners, regardless of whether you will be in the 100K national championship race or not. No matter how "competitive" you intend to be for your race this Saturday, the "refreshment zone" rules will apply to you and your crews. The Mad City 100K attempts to duplicate the rules of competition and "refreshment zone" conditions mandated for the World Championship 100K. In fact, for the US national championship race on Saturday, compliance is required. But I am expecting all solo runners, including 50K runners and non-competitive 100K runners, to be compliant with the National Championship rules , so please bear with me while I lay this out for you.

I think you will find that these rules look "harder" than they are in practice. At the race, you will be able to see how easy it is to comply with these requested rules. I'll have the 200-meter long "refreshment zones" conspicuously marked with signs. I'll talk with your crews informally. My aid station volunteers and I will talk to you. I feel confident that everything will go just as smoothly as it does here every year, even if there were a few new wrinkles added by the International Association of Ultrarunners (I.A.U.) last year.

The guiding principle to be observed is that now your "handlers" cannot accompany you in any way. In this sense, a handler might be your personal crew, or it might be one of my aid station volunteers - the same rules apply. We have all been in races where our handler walks or runs alongside us to hand us a bottle or food so that we don't have to slow down. You can't do that anymore. Yes, your handler can hand you stuff, but no, your handler can't "accompany" you for any distance. When you come to the marked "refreshment zone", your handler must be virtually stationary when handing stuff to you. That means you may have to slow down or stop to receive your bottle, etc. from your handler's hand or from the aid station table. If you fumble the handoff, you have to pick it up yourself or go on without - your handler can't pick it up and bring it to you. If you're given the wrong item by your handler, you have to go back to your handler or table and get the right one - your handler can't chase after you and give it to you.

Take another common situation: you want to drop a bottle or piece of clothing. You do not need to hand it off to your "stationary" handler - you are allowed to drop it anywhere within the refreshment zone. But your handler can't pick it up for you until you've exited the refreshment zone - otherwise, your handler is moving along with you while you are in the 200-meter long refreshment zone, and that can be interpreted as "accompanying" you.

That said, let me assure you that your handler - whether your spouse, valet, or an aid station volunteer - can still be of great service to you. The designated "refreshment zone" at each aid station will be 200 meters long. Within those friendly confines you select where you wish your personal zone to be. At that established and defined point, you (the runner) can stop, step off the course, change clothes/shoes with the assistance of your handler(s), get more stuff out of your duffle bag - all the usual activities that you love to have a crew for. However, all this activity must be done within that personally defined zone which is one (1) meter in front and on either side of your table or small piece of claimed real estate. What you can't let happen is to have your handler "accompany" you during the race, even if it's for a step or two. For example, you can "claim" a piece of real estate approximately one (1) meter by one (1) meter and imagine this to be your personal aid station zone. Within this parameter, you must receive all your aid from your handler(s). Your handler(s) can extend this personal aid zone to be one (1) meter in front (as long as they are off the course and not interrupting another runner) and one (1) meter to either side of the established and defined personal aid zone. Changing clothes, shoes, attending to minor first aid issues, etc. must be done within this parameter .

Last year at the World Championship 100K race in Gibraltar, this rule was put into effect for the first time. Most nations complied, but there was a certain well-known large country whose team very nearly was DQ'd for not taking this rule seriously. After a round of stern warnings in the early stages of the race, an international official was assigned to stand at that country's table and document any further violations so the ultimate sanction could be imposed. I don't say this to scare you, but to emphasize that enforcement is expected of me.

To be fair to all participants, we will employ the rule often used in soccer. We will not give any disqualifications without ample warning and explanation. The ample warning will occur in the form of a verbal "yellow" card. The second warning will be the verbal "red" card, which will result in a disqualification. This will be fair and uniform to all runners and be the judgment of the race referee.

So, as I say, we'll talk you through this on race day. We'll counsel your handlers. We'll answer all questions asked of us. In the end, I believe we'll have what we all want: a fair race, with you runners receiving all the assistance we can legally give you, in a way that isn't all that much different than what you're already used to. Bottom line: our expectation is that we will not issue any disqualifications and that with ample instruction and guidance, we will have full compliance.

Please communicate these expectations to your handlers. We will be fully prepared to assist in any way necessary. Mistakes or misinterpretations are OK and expected. We just don't want the same mistake made repeatedly by the same handlers.

Finally, remember that we will conduct a briefing/meeting for all runner sat the Vilas Park shelter on the evening before the race, April 8, beginning at 6 p.m., where any questions can be addressed.


Timo.
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Posted:April 6th, 2011 1:29 pm
Last Update:April 6th, 2011 1:34 pm
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