Posted by: Joe English | March 23, 2009

Commentary — So who won that race anyway?

Coach Joe English

Coach Joe English

So, I have to tell you, I’ve been reading stories about goofy logic being applied to how awards are handed out for awhile now. I was sitting through an awards ceremony this weekend and I asked the person next to me if they had won an award. “I don’t know” was the answer he gave me with a somewhat puzzled look. He had checked the results, but couldn’t tell. I pondered why this could happen and then it happened to me too in quite an unexpected way.

Let me come back to that in a minute.

I always find it interesting when the logic of other people just seems to go right over my head. People can feel so secure in their reasoning, but when you ask them to explain it, it all seems to unravel itself. You’d think that handing out awards at races would be a relatively straight-forward affair. The first three people in a certain division win an award, for example, and that’s that. But unfortunately, and this where the crazy logic comes in, it’s not that simple.

Here’s an example that might make your head spin. Last year at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, figuring out who won took on a somewhat illogical spin. The race organizers at this mostly women’s race have decided to award the title of the overall race winner to the first woman finisher. Unfortunately, the first finisher was a man. So the first person to finish the race by time was not the overall winner.

From there the story took an even stranger turn when the organizers decided to award the overall winner to the first female finisher from the “elite” wave, despite the fact that a woman in the regular age-group wave had actually run a faster time. Their logic, which quickly falls apart here, was that in order to be in consideration for the title, the faster woman needed to have registered for the elite wave and started with the other elite women. Of course, she didn’t know that she was going to win the race and her time was — albeit a great time — not so fast that she would consider herself “elite”. (The race organizers did eventually relent and give her the title.)

To continue reading, click here.

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