I don't remember when I did my first Workers Memorial race but it was probably during college since the race was held there. At the time it drew a lot of people. The course was an interesting challenge given its constant elevation change. It wasn't much of a change but then it doesn't take much to ruin your time. I was told by a number of people they eventually changed the course to lower costs.(add appropriate amount of salt as needed) Another thing they changed was their t-shirt design. But the one thing that never changed, at least when I raced, was their association with the union. With all of those facts in place, lets step through their missteps.
The new course, which now remains on campus, is kinda boring. It's just shy of two loops which meant you repeated a fair amount of the first loop. I usually did the race as an early season race test because it fit into my schedule nicely.
2.Lack of posted results.
We live in a world where instant online results are not just accepted but expected. I could never find my race results at any of the online race pages.
(CoolRunning is one example) Many of the folks that I would see during the course of the season would complain about this point. Some went so far as to say that unless they start posting their race results online, they weren't going to race.
To some, Tshirts are not worth much, but to others, the Tshirt makes the race. Back in the day the shirt had some women with some cool “expression” (with an attitude). The new ones looked very plain with little to no graphics. It was mostly adverts.
4.Lack of photos or worse select photos.
While looking for my results I happened across a site controlled by the union associated with the race. They had race photo's but only of those who were in a union. Fair enough so I emailed them about getting a copy of a picture that I knew was taken during the awards ceremony. It was my best finish ever in a race and in my age group. When they took the photo it was of me getting my “2nd in age group” award and then again with the Top three places. I emailed at least 4 different people associated with the race looking to getting a copy but no one ever responded. If it were only me I would let it go but again people who race the local scene repeated similar stories. Some people may think this vain but I would have loved to show my sons a picture of their Dad getting an award.
Getting back to the web, unless I can find the race online or I see it posted at other races, I don't do it. The race had no website, no known place to get an application, nor was it listed on any race sites. This never made any sense to me. If you are trying to build up a race wouldn't you promote it?
Each race has it's thing which you associate with it. Careful tailoring of that image is vital. Day of Portugal was known for being flat and fast with great after race prizes. The race ran in association with the Festival of the same name. There was also a free kids race that really made the entire event feel perfect for family. The Father's Day 5 and 10K once again created an image of family and fun. Great course, great support, and a different shirt design each year. This is where I think they kinda alienated some people. After the race was done I remember numerous times having to listen to what seemed like a long speech about unions and worker safety before any of the awards were given out. If they were the main sponsors then they had every right to use their event to bring topics to the public eye which they felt important. Problem is when you use the word union not everyone feels the same way and that's where people start forming opinions about the entire event.
A lot of people associated that race with raising money to help support injured union workers. On the surface that's a great cause. Problem is it opened up questions like, “The guy was in the union, I thought they had insurance, I'd rather support all injured workers”, and a few others. So as you can see they let their image get taken over which turned some away. As an aside I would have also donated some of the proceeding to some scholarship and made sure to announce that loud and clear during the awards ceremony. i.e. “With your support we raised $$$ dollars for two students to help pay for their books.”
So lets wrap this up. To be honest I am surprised the race lasted as long as it did. The year I took third in my age group there was about 50. The next year saw me take 2nd in my age group dropping over a minute from my time but there were only 36. As reported by another teacher, this year saw 15 line up and it was announced they were pulling the plug. Maybe someone in the near future will want to get a race going there again. And maybe, just maybe, they'll listen to what I and a whole bunch of people have been saying and create a really nice and well supported road race. Until then, RIP Workers Memorial 5K.