The distinction between runs and races is sometimes murky
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
I've wondered from time to time: How is a run of 10 people different from a race of 10 people, as far as tracking results go, or official results and rankings? I have a friend who told me that there are three qualifications for a "race:” 1) a minimum of eight people, 2) a measured distance, and 3) a measured start and stop time. Is this all there is? Can you shed any light on what makes a "race" different from a gaggle of people out for a run? — Kelly Hornsby
That certainly is an intriguing question! In its simplest sense, I believe any run could become a race if the participants decided to make it competitive. The distance or time needn’t be measured either in its simplest form. There would simply need to be a start point and finish point and the first one there wins. But, I’m guessing you are asking about official races you see results for in magazines and online. The only real addition here is the gathering and reporting of the results. I’m sure there are races listed on web sites that are pretty small, made-up endeavors.
Until recently, USATF accepted results for records and rankings on any U.S. course that was certified and where proper timekeeping was conducted. A recent rules change now, I believe, prohibits records from being established if the race is not USATF sanctioned, too.
It’s all shades of gray, but what some might believe separates a “race” from just a run could include some or all of these factors:
- Is the event open to the public for participation?
- Is the event promoted?
- Is the event timed with published results?
- Is the event produced by some entity as opposed to a mere gathering of friends?
5) Does the event exist for some higher purpose beyond a bunch of runners getting some exercise (i.e. tourism, charity, honoring someone, etc.)?
If an event meets three or more of these criteria, I’d say it’s a race. Even some major races don’t even meet all of these criteria, though. So, have I successfully confused you even more now? Good luck in your race or on your run, whichever you decide to call it!