Saturday, November 7, 2009

Twin Peaks Rotary Cross Country Challenge: A Study In Jacked Up Awards

Marring an otherwise well-done cross country race on a beautiful day in November, the race director for Longmont's Twin Peaks Cross Country Challenge managed to fumble the awards for the women. Here are the top finishers today:
   1. Lesia Atkinson                  Boulder CO              43    40-49      1st     23:10  6:38
2. Kristi Jordan Longmont CO 46 40-49 2nd 23:40 6:47
3. Sarah Krakoff Boulder CO 44 40-49 3rd 23:52 6:50
4. Marian Salley Boulder CO 41 40-49 4th 25:30 7:19
5. Colleen Cooke Boulder CO 37 30-39 1st 25:48 7:24
Top three overall and masters were awarded cash ($30, $20, $10) and top three per ten-year age groups were awarded gift certificates for an optometrist (at similar increments). So for this race, it was decided that since the top three were all masters runners they would be given the awards for the top three masters finishers. However, what follows is the point where the decision-making process gets really interesting. The fourth place finisher was given the 40-49 age group first place award and then the runner in fifth was given the first place overall award. Obviously overall prizes are meant to carry greater import than age group awards and yet they were not awarded on the basis of straightforward merit as reflected in performance in the results. It would seem far more ideal to award the first three the overall awards and then give the next three masters runners the masters awards, presuming based on appearance that this race wanted to avoid 'double-dipping' entirely. Or even just start the overall awards with the runner finishing immediately behind the third masters runner. I have been around the sport for over two decades and I cannot recall seeing such a ridiculous handling of race awards like this instance. Hopefully it was merely an oversight as a result of a hastily-made decision.


  1. As the recipient of the 2nd place Master award, I hold no hard feelings about the way the awards were handled. I appreciate the effort to spread the wealth and realize that I would have walked away with the same amount of cash if they had awarded the top three overall to the top 3 masters (who happened to be top 3 overall) I doubt the race director intentionally scrambled it up in such an unusual manner. At worst, Marion was out $10 prize money. We all make mistakes and I like to think something this trivial can be put behind us so we can look forward to the next fun race on another beautiful day.

  2. A gift certificate at an optometrist is a funny gift to receive.

  3. Thanks for sharing some thoughts. Based on a more just method of awarding the prizes as outlined already, it could also be $20 or $30. It is not even about the dollar amount, it is about a principle. I can certainly understand how one who is unaffected could deem it trivial. I can also empathize with one who has the idea that sport rewards based on merit, first and foremost.

  4. What an awesome day for a race it was.

    Personally, I can't help but wonder if nit-picking about how the "prize money" was handed out at such a low-key event (which is a fundraiser first and foremost) might be missing the point. Over 80 of us were treated to a beautiful morning of running under a bright blue sky; a more privileged beginning to a weekend would be hard to imagine. Perhaps the prizes weren't doled out as best they could have been, but this is such a modest event when compared with marquee races like Bolder Boulder, that I find it hard to believe that the monetary rewards were motivation for anybody. We all know how we did, and that - paired with the joy of running itself - should be enough for any of us.

    In any event, thanks for generating some discussion about the race. I'll be posting my own blog about it in the next couple of days, and would be happy to share the link with anyone interested.



  5. "We all know how we did, and that - paired with the joy of running itself - should be enough for any of us."

    Love it, great sentiment and that should absolutely be the takeaway for any and every individual. This is why our passion for it abides. Given that, my comments have not been about extrinsic motivation or even really what exactly the prizes were. I can see how it could seem to be "nit-picking" to someone who thought it to be about that. I do not want this to be misunderstood so hopefully I can dispel such notions. This is more about macro concepts, principles that are important regardless of the size or level of competition as they relate to sport and competition. And yes, some of us do consider a race to be a sporting competition, "first and foremost." Either way, if one is going to bother to do something then why not bother doing it right? There likely are people who feel otherwise, which is fine and the right to hold differing opinions is something that makes this such a great country. This does not in any way take away from everything else the event staff did to make it such a wonderful race, they still deserve major kudos for staging such a good competition.

  6. You make a good point about doing something right if you're going to bother doing it at all. And I think it is clear that we are approaching this issue from differing perspectives - with one of us not being someone who ever needs to be concerned with how prizes are awarded, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks again for the post. It's cool to be able to discuss a race online after the fact, especially given that this was such a small one.

  7. My race day experience: