General Meeting

The March General Meeting of the Hamilton Harriers is scheduled for 7 pm, Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at the Hamilton Downtown YMCA.


The Harrier Executive are currently accepting nominations for our annual $500 Bursary Award.

The nominee must be a local resident and can be of any age. The bursary is to be applied to education and/or athletic expenses. The recipient is to have contributed to the sporting community.

The nominations must be in writing and submitted to Mr. James Van Dyke at (in this e-mail address please insert “__” between “james” and “van” and “van” and “dyke”) or mailed by “snail mail” addressed to Mr. James Van Dyke, President, Hamilton Harriers Running Club c/o YMCA, 49 James Street South, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2Z1.

The deadline for applications is May 1, 2009.

I believe I can speak for us all in saying the Club welcomes the opportunity to be of assistance to those who contribute to the wonderful world of sports.

A Humorous Digression (from Dennis Miller)

The easiest job in the world has to be coroner. You perform surgery on dead people. What’s the worst that could happen? If everything went wrong, maybe you’d get a pulse.

2009 Harrier Championship Race Series

Race #1--- Robbie Burns 8k, Burlington Runners. Sunday January 25th, 2009.

Burlington Central High, 1433 Baldwin. (west off Brant Street)

Race#2---Saint Catharines Roadrunners’ Valentines Day 5k, Sunday February 15th,

noon, Port Dalhousie. Watch Roadrunners’ website for details

Race #3---Michael Lamont/Slainte Saint Patrick’s Day 5k. Saturday March 14th, 2009.

Point to point, finish line at Slainte, 33 Bowen Street, downtown Hamilton finish.

Race#4—Around The Bay 30k. Hamilton. Sunday March 29thth, 2009. York Street

start/finish, Copp’s Coliseum.

Race #5—Burlington Runners Good Friday Ten Miler, Friday April 10th, 2009. Aldershot

High School, 50 Fairwood Place. Double looping course.

Race#6—Ancaster Old Mill 10k. Tuesday June 09th, 2009 (officially unconfirmed). 7:00pm

start, Morgan Firestone Arena.

Race#7—Grimsby Peachbud 10k. Tuesday June 30th, 2009. The Grimsby Peach King Center,

7:30pm start.

Race #8—Hamilton Harrier Cross Country Run. July date to be determined, Churchill

Park, approx. 3000m distance. (the 2008 technical course)

Race #9—Run For The Toad 25k Trail Run, Saturday October 3th, 2009. 9:00am start,

Pinehurst Conservation Area, Spragues Road, Paris.

Race #10--- Halloween 10k, Corktown Irish Pub, Saturday October 31st, 2009. Race

Director, Dave Harrison. Escarpment out and back course, East Hamilton rail trail.

Race #11—McMaster University Colorectal Cancer Awareness Run. Trish Murphy race

director, October/November date to be announced.

Race #12—GeorgeTown Runners Egg Nog Jog 10.8k, Terra Cotta conservation area, early

to mid December date to be announced.

Race #12—marathon of choice.

Race #13—half marathon of choice.


I have written a piece of fiction entitled “Decision Makers”. It is an unusual story and relatively short at only 120 pages. An outline was submitted to the publishing/agent community and found no interest. Because it is quite different, on most days, I agree with the professionals in their assessment that it is unlikely to find a market. But there are other days. So I decided to self publish. If you have an interest, you can check it out at (On the Frontlist Home Page, click the “Bookstore” caption at the top of the page and then type in “Decision Makers” at the Title Caption on the right hand side of the Bookstore page). I would look forward to receiving any comments you may have, which can be forwarded to me by e-mail at Proceeds from the book’s sale will be donated to the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation.


(The following are my ruminations on Course considerations in the staging of a road race.)

In staging a road race, the race organizers must start by defining their distance and the course over which it will be run. This is in marked contrast with other athletic events. Organizers in most other sports merely have to decide on the venue. These organizers can assume their fields of play meet “regulation”. The management of intercity soccer teams for instance is not required to measure out the soccer pitches they play on. The same holds true for virtually every other sporting event. Race organizers on the other hand must start by deciding on their distance and the course it will cover and then have the course measured and certified.

Road races are run on streets, which gives the sport a high degree of exposure. This exposure allows the potential of securing an attendance audience like no other sport can command. A football stadium may seat as many as one hundred thousand fans; the New York City Marathon can have a million spectators line its streets.

Where does one begin?

It starts with determining the distance of the race. If, like the Bay Race, you are running from point-to-point, the distance will be pre-defined. If it will allow, you may want to alter it somewhat to have the race fit a standardized distance, like the Bay’s change from its original 19.1 miles to the 30K distance. This is not always done. A number of prestigious races e.g. Cape Cod’s Falmouth, San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers are run over odd distances in honour of their long histories.

In the sport’s early days, a road race would cover only one distance. You were staging a 5k or a five miler or a 10K, etc. In order to expand their fields, many organizers today will host an event, which allows for different distances and with the longer distances, there may be relays. The addition of other distances can add to the organizer’s course issues but usually their impact will be minimal if the shorter events are run on the same course as the longer events.

There are several possible course configurations to choose from.

An out and back course covers the same route in two directions with the turn around at the midway point. These courses require less staffing and are easier to service as the same aid stations are used in both directions. And many competitors like seeing the front runners coming back. There is a boredom factor to these courses as you see the same sites going out and returning. The roadway needs to be fairly wide to accommodate runners moving in both directions. The space issue gets more critical if the route is also open to traffic. You can end up with significant delays in traffic flow particularly at intersections if your event is at a shorter distance and well attended.

Loop courses move in a circular pattern with the same start and finish lines. You offer more geography for viewing than you would on an out and back course but you require more course services i.e. personnel and aid station equipment. The courses allow for better traffic flow. If a race offers several distances, the longer one could be a multiple of the shorter distance e.g. a marathon course could be a double loop of the half marathon course. I find multiple loops to be psychologically quite challenging but from an organizer’s perspective they are easier to mark out and administer.

You can combine an out and back course with a loop course. This configuration allows for more scenery and is easier to administer than a loop course. It sometimes is a convenient way of making up the distance, which a loop course on its own may not be able to readily accommodate.

The last configuration is the point to point course. This course can score high for runner interest. One thinks of running all five boroughs in New York City or seeing all those interesting places on the road from Hopkinton to Boston. The downside for the organizers is the additional number of aid stations required along with the transportation of the runners and their baggage to the Start. There is also the need to replicate the facilities you would have at the Finish Line – think fluids both intake and output.

Once the course distance(s) and configuration have been settled, organizers must move onto their measurement. This might best be approached in three stages. The first step would be to get an overview of the course to ensure its distance(s) will meet your planned event. Such an overview can be gotten by using computerized street maps. They usually have a drawing feature, which will give you the distances covered on your proposed route. If you are uncomfortable with this approach, you can drive the route making allowances for the fact that your car’s odometer is not an exact instrument – allow them a range of plus or minus five percent.

The next step is to run your plans by the local community authorities. If they have issues you want to work through them before investing time and money in the somewhat painstaking course certification process. They may have a number of “show stoppers” that did not occur to you. As your planning is usually done many months before the event, one of the more convincing show stoppers may be their plans to replace the storm sewers on your proposed route. If, and this is a big “if” you can arrange it, gathering all the interested parties together in one meeting is most helpful. You would want to get representatives from the traffic and police departments (and provincial police if you are on provincial roads), local bus lines, rail lines if the course will go across tracks, federal transport officials if you are going over a moveable bridge, etc. A lot of time can be saved and ambiguities avoided by holding such a session. These individuals can usually bring a wealth of hard won experiences that can save a new organizer much grief going forward. Some jurisdictions will require that you have the entire course coned. From a runner safety perspective, course coning is worth pursuing regardless of whether it is required.

The final step is to have your course certified. The provincial road running association can offer instruction on how a course is certified. To the technically minded the certification process is an interesting one albeit somewhat tedious. The organizers can do the certification themselves but usually the practice is to call in a professional. The course certifier will supply the organizers with detailed descriptions of where each kilometre marker is to be placed. Certifiers will usually hammer a nail into the pavement as a permanent marker.

On race day, organizers normally position kilometre markers along the course. Prior to the race, it is helpful to take photographs of the location where the markers are to be positioned. The photograph along with the certifier’s detailed description should help to ensure the distance markers are at the correct spots. Runners can be extraordinarily consistent in their pacing, sometimes within few seconds on a per kilometre basis. Misplaced markers will be very disorientating; you as an organizer can count on being apprised of this fact by the runners after the event.

It is prudent to ensure the residents who live along the course are aware of the date and time of the race, particularly if the event will restrict traffic flow. The local authorities may post signs in advance of the event to notify drivers of any significant traffic flow issues along the course. Organizers should not be surprised to receive a bill for this signage. It is prudent to send letters to business outlets and houses of worship along the route apprising them of the race and when and how long the field of runners will be in front of their establishments.

In marshalling the course, organizers should have a volunteer stationed wherever the course makes a turn. The marshals should be issued with safety vests and instructed that they are not to assume responsibility for traffic control, which is a police responsibility. Marshals usually appreciate the significance of their role when the majority of runners have passed for it is the back of the pack runners who need them most, even on courses that are coned. Organizers of longer events where the distances are either at or approximate the marathon distance should provide for pick up vehicles for runners, who for whatever reason, have dropped out of the race. Like the military, the motto should be we leave no one behind.

Aid station crews on the course should have sufficient supplies of water and sports drink to accommodate a runner’s taking two to three cups at each station and more, if the event will be held during warmer weather. It can be embarrassing but more importantly dangerous to the health of your participants, should you underestimate these supplies. For events where the fields are in the thousands, a convenient approach is to have the city open up fire hydrants near your water stations. Aid stations should also be supplied with first aid kits and Vaseline for those tender areas that can develop during a longer event. It is a painful sight for an organizer to see a vest bloodied at the runner’s nipples and knowing that this could have been avoided for the want of a little forethought and a few daps of Vaseline. For longer events several port-a-johns on the course are a consideration everyone - runners, volunteers, residents and spectators - will thank you for. Aid station volunteers should be instructed to leave the course as they find it i.e. to pick up cups, wrappers, clothing, etc. before they leave their area. Organizers should have someone, usually a cyclist, with the last runner. If there are time limits the cyclist can advise those at the back that the course is closed and they should continue on the sidewalk, if they so desire. Aid station workers can be advised to leave water bottles out if they close the station before the last runner has reached them. Finally, it is prudent to have someone drive the course after the race to do a final clean up check. Residents will appreciate this effort and be more disposed to welcoming you back next year.

It does happen that the best of plans can sometimes fall through. Several years ago during the Around the Bay Road Race, I was driving the lead vehicle. After we crossed the lift bridge, which covers the entrance to Hamilton harbour, I received a panicky call from the driver of a “sag” wagon i.e. a van intended to pick up runners who drop out of the race.

“They’re coming back”


“The runners, they’re coming back”

About the same time, a police officer on a motor cycle drove beside me and called out:

“The lift bridge went up. It looks like you and this lead pack are the only ones to get through.”

“Oh my God!”

In the Around the Bay Road Race, the lift bridge is at the half way point. It seems several hundred runners decided that since they could not go forward without a delay, they would simply run back to the Start/Finish Line and thereby cover the required distance. This approach would lead to their automatic disqualification as they did not cover the course. More important though was the safety issue. The runners were now streaming through intersections that were no longer manned by the police. It was a minor miracle that no one was injured on that day. The reason why the lift bridge went up is a fascinating tale involving stock piles of coal and an old curmudgeon of a steel worker who knew how to read them but was forced into early retirement. But this is a story better left for another time. Suffice it to say that no matter how well you plan your event, sometimes the best laid plans…


Published by

The Hamilton Harriers Running Club


PresidentJames van Dyke(905) 971-6040

V.P. FinanceCarlotta Bown(905) 383-3821

V.P. PurchasingDave Harrison(905) 529-6420

V.P. TechnicalRuss Doyle(905) 523-6762

V.P. CommunicationsBob Ranalli(905) 383-7620

V.P. MembershipMathilda Machado(905)574-3705

Social DirectorJune Jenkins(905) 388-9604

SecretarySheila Ranalli(905) 383-7620

V.P.Web Master……Peter Haentjens…(905) 388-7895

non-portfolioArt Mitchell(905) 389-7229

non-portfolioGraydonStephens.. (905) 387-0532

YMCA repBryanWebber