DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
I wish there was a way to make gear bags available to runners inside the finishing area. After a long race I want to get something to eat and drink, and I want to stay warm. But once I leave the finishing area to get my warm ups most races won't let me back in. I'm sure this is to do with the fear that people would load up their gear bags with food leaving none for later arrivals, but I wish something could be done. Maybe let us get our warm clothes but not our bags? What are your views? Thanks — Anonymous
Thanks for your question about the location of checked bags at the finish of a race. Interestingly, most races do put bags inside the secured area. There must have been some other important reason why this race chose to keep them outside the finishing area--I'm guessing they were short on space or wanted to store them inside a building. I could be wrong, but I doubt the reason was to prohibit runners from taking their fair share of the post-race food. The race should have had enough volunteers within that area either handing out the food or at least monitoring runners to make sure they weren't taking too much. One good way around this issue is to offer pre-packaged food bags and just give one to each runner as they leave the secured area.
In any event, bag collection and distribution can be one of a race director's biggest challenges, especially if the race is point-to-point and requires transporting all the bags from the start to the finish. The race will need more volunteers to collect and distribute bags, more equipment to transport bags (buses, trucks, UPS, etc.), and the space to accommodate everyone and everything. Disputes over lost bags can become confrontational. Somebody must also decide what to do with left-behind bags, including how long to hold onto them in the event they aren't claimed.
If I were you, I would email the race and ask whether it's possible to put bags within the overall secured finish area. I bet that if they could do it, they probably would.