DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World

I am having a difficult time getting this question answered. Scenario: Second female to cross the finish line in a race is 43 years old.  Should she be awarded "Second Place Overall Women" or "First Place Masters Women" (when Masters are being separately awarded)?  I understand that there should be no double awards, but which one should it be?  I have an opinion as a runner, but would like to hear what a race director says it should be. - Jamie, Chapel Hill, NC

Jamie, although I personally would like to see more consistency (i.e., "standards") in this area of race management, races are left to their own preferences as to how to structure their awards categories and distribution.  As such, the most important step is to make a decision early in the planning process and communicate this decision in the event application and on the website so everyone (including the timing company) knows in advance what the deal is.

You state, "I understand that there should be no double awards."  Many race directors actually feel the opposite -- that if you won it, you deserve it.  Others feel that we should spread the wealth.  I suppose there is no right or wrong answers. You just need to let everyone know, in advance, what your structure is.

If I am not going to double-award in my race, my rule of thumb is to make all the overall awards (e.g., top 3 or top 5) greater or equal in value to the first-place award in any other category.  As such, if someone finishes in the overall prize structure, they get that award and I move up the next age-group finisher into the prize structure of that category.   Again, this is how I do it, but there truly is not a "standard" in the business.  Race directors do what they feel is either fair to the participants and/or what they feel is best for their event.