Melbourne Marathon “5km” – again

Okay, so it’s probably time to climb down off my soapbox over this subject, but I have to admit, over the last 24 hours as I think on the dismissive attitude of the event organisers I have been getting even angrier.

I did get an email response from IMG today, signed by the Event Director, but actually sent by an Event Assistant. Here is the reply in it’s entirety;

Hi Andrew,

In response to your enquiry we have had about the measurement of the courses for the St.George Melbourne Marathon, we can assure you both the Marathon and Half Marathon distances were measured and ratified by the official Australian AIMS (Association of International Marathons) representative Mr. Geoff Hookes as 100% accurate. This was stated in the Competitor Information Booklet as “Officially measured courses”.

These events formed the framework in which we were granted road closures by the various authorities and police.

In relation to the ‘10km’ and ‘5km’ events these are considered fun run events and were measured as closely as possible to the 10km and 5km distances under the constraints of the road closures placed upon us.

We apologise to anyone who this may have inconvenienced.

It is this “we consider it a fun run, so it doesn’t matter” attitude that really pisses me off. I have responded via email, here is my response;

I would like to again register my complaint and disappointment, not only with the fact that the 5km course was short, but with the apparent lack of respect, or even disdain, you are showing to the 5km runners by simply saying that you consider it a “fun run” and therefore the accuracy of the course simply does not matter.

Firstly, throughout your website and Competitor Information Booklet the event is referred to consistently as “ASICS 5km Run”. Given that description, I think it is quite reasonable that all competitors who entered this run thought that they would in fact be running five kilometers. I acknowledge the fact that most would not expect a 100% accurate, measured course, but propose to you that most would expect a course that was at least approximately five kilometers in length.

I would like to understand exactly what distance you and your organisation thought that the course was. I assume that your courses would be measured prior to preparation of your advertising material and Competitor Information Booklet. If not, then I would say that this was not showing due diligence. If it was measured prior, then I would say that continuing to represent the event as the “ASICS 5km Run” was misleading and in conflict with Fair Trading Laws.

Your comments that were reported in the Age On-Line article yesterday, and are summarized in your email response below, in my opinion, show a complete lack of respect for your customer, the 5km runner. Many of the runners in this event would have been, like me, training for and attempting a distance personal best. Many others, for example those doing the CouchTo5K, would have been attempting their first 5km event. To sell them a “5km run”, then present a 4km course is unacceptable. To then brush it off as “it’s a fun run so it doesn’t matter” is appalling. The fact that you have not publicly admitted this error (eg on your website, or in your post-race edition newsletter) is further evidence of this poor attitude.

In the Age On-Line article yesterday it was reported that “Mr O’Brien rejected suggestions the distances were short by as much as 20 per cent”. My Garmin device recorded the race distance as 3.97km and many other runners have reported similar readings. Others have since mapped the course using MapMyRun or similar and have come up with around 4km. So, the race distance does appear to have been approximately 4km. To me this is 20 per cent short. I would like to understand your thought processes and calculations behind the above comment rejecting these suggestions, and request again that you publish the official course distance.

I hear that some runners are requesting a refund of their entry fee. To me the money is not the issue, rather it is about calling you to task for your error, but more so for the disregard you have shown the running community in the aftermath. Perhaps an appropriate gesture of apology might be to donate one-fifth of all of the 5km entry fees to the event charity CPEC.

A 6km run after work tonight to cool down!


7 Responses to “Melbourne Marathon “5km” – again”

  1. Em Says:

    Brilliantly worded Andrew, you make you point perfectly and it’d pretty hard to argue with! The only thing I would have added was to request a personal and detailed response that is not obviously the pat response they’ve prepared to send everyone.

    I love how they refer to “5km” and “10km” the inverted comma’s indicating their screw up.

    For f*ck sake, Sri C have no problem putting on an accurately measured race.

    Also the 10km were the Australian university championships, pathetic that they could not offer an accurate course.

    And one more thing, the results were published in the paper stating 5km and 10km, the women’s winning time was an Australian and World record 10km road time and the 5km times world class, how god damn stupid does that make us look?!

    Ok, will stop ranting on your blog now 😆

  2. Ross OG Says:

    I am glad to see someone has voiced their opinions on this – I am 100% behind each of your points.
    I cannot believe that this has occurred. The organisers should never allowed to organise another race. I think we should setup a petition for:
    Making sure all are aware of what happened (I only heard of it over lunch! I like so many had thought i had run a good race!)
    Making sure the organisers realise their mistake
    looking for money back.

    I presonnally would like to sue the organisers if it meant they would not get to organise another race. This hole event does not bode well for Melbourne!

  3. Superflake Says:

    Total disregard shown by the organisers for the 5 and 10k. Dismissed as unimportant. Dave Cundy at Canberra would never do that with his 5 and 10k held the day before.

  4. Lee Says:

    Fantastic email of complaint Andrew! They clearly don’t give a ratz!!

    You know the more I think about it the peed of I am getting as well. I was treating it as “Fun Run” but wanted to run 5km because that was on my training schedule. On the day it did feel really wrong although RJ was relieved I am sure. I had plenty of steam left in these legs of mine!

  5. jojo Says:

    yep i think it was a well worded respnse as well!

  6. Chris Says:

    It might be worth CC’ing ASICs on all this – if you get their support for this (it does reflect badly on their brand after all) it might help get somewhere.


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