Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Originally Published in the Prospect Park Track Club Blog

What you do not know because you are not me – It was a good summer

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The first race of the Al Goldstein Summer Speed Series Sponsored by JackRabbit was May 22, but for me it all began in March.  That was when I missed the Race Committee Meeting where it was decided that Steve Lastoe and I were no longer the Race Directors, we were the Series Directors and Matt Strawn and Tom Tobin were the Race Directors. I was cool with that, and Steve was too.  I think Matt and Tom missed that meeting too, but it all worked out for everyone.  This all worked out fine.
 Among the four of us we all got to miss races as needed and focus on what we did well.  Steve handled  all the blinky lights in the truck.  His crew took data from multiple sources and pumped out race results.   Matt got us enough volunteers to make this all happen.  We had an abundance of happy PPTC people who were eager to help.  Tom solved problems before they happened, our supplies just appeared.  Then he ran the race!
 Just a few years ago we were happy when 40 people ran the race.  These 40 people had a great time; we were able to score the race using stopwatches and clipboards.  But it really can get messy if you try to score a race with more than 100 people with pens and paper.  So we would tell the runners to keep the race a secret so it would still be manageable.  Then in 2011 we let Steve beta test his timing equipment and one of our races.  IT WORKED.  Yes, the equipment worked.  But it also worked for our race.  We realized we could still have a small race but it did not have to be for only as many people who you could score with a pencil.
 This year we averaged 240 finishers per race and everyone had a great time.  We learned some lessons and made some adjustments but it was a great summer.
 July 3rd was a typical summer evening with a threat of a storm and just at 7PM that became reality. Yea, super rain.  It was basically my call as to whether or not to cancel the race.  But everyone was there and we were all soaked already.  Also I was planning on running it.  I had been thinking about this race for a long time.  Ya see, the last time I medaled in a race was on the eve of my 30th birthday.  In July of 2013 I was a newly minted 50 year old, with a fresh chance to score in my age group.  So we ran through flash floods on the park drive.  When we all finished we were as wet as we could have been if we were swimming.  And when we finished we hugged like it was Woodstock   So, as a punishment for making everyone run in the rain, I finished 5th in my age group.  Two weeks later, with 30 more finishers that earlier time would have gotten me a silver medal.  I love this sport.
 We also paused in the middle of the summer on July 17th to celebrate the life of Paul Soskind.  After the race we had a feast.  I am pretty sure we will find something to celebrate every year.
 Next year we will have at least one change.  We found we can easily handle 300 people running the race (maybe even 500!?).  The problems are when 100 of them show up in race day to fill out a paper application.  Almost all the errors in the results where when a person signed up on race day.  There are just too many ways to make a mistake.  Next year the race will still cost $5 online till 3pm, but if you show up with cash it will be $10.  We are even going to come up with a simple way for youth teams to sign up.
 Finally, I have to share one of my favorite moments of the summer.  It was very small but really sums up the Summer Speed Series experience.  I met someone at the Park Slope Food Coop that runs about 50 miles a week, but never raced.  He thought every race was like the Olympics and he would just get stompled.   Naw, come to our Wednesday evening race, you will have fun.  He did. After the race he whispered a question to me “Am I supposed to tip the people who watched my bag?”  I have him a big hug and said “No, just thank them.  We are all volunteers”.  With that I would like to thank all the volunteers who made this summer great
Michael Ring

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