(#3) Surf City Half Marathon – Time Limit Confusion

As an injured runner, the time limit played a major part in my race. It was something I was extremely concerned about. I was not going to allow myself to still be behind the finish line when the course closed.

The website states that there is a six-hour time limit. The real question was whether or not the start of that limit was the start of the race or when the last runner crossed the start line.

The website said “A wave start will allow you plenty of space along the course, at the aid stations, and at the finish line, without affecting your chip time or the time you have to complete the race. All 1/2 marathon participants will still have the ’6-hour time limit’ to complete the course.’” That would lead me to believe that I have 6 hours from when I cross the start line.

I asked an official race employee before the race started when the six-hour time limit began. She said that it started from when the last corral crossed the start line.

I finished in just under 5 hours and 8 minutes (5:07:46), but there were so many people in this race that I didn’t cross the start line until over 51 minutes after the race had started. (Since I guess the time limit was 6 hours after the start of the race, I came in with 1 minute and 3 seconds to spare.)

If the time limit had been six hours for each runner, those 52 available minutes would’ve made a WORLD of difference. In those miles in which I hurt and rushed myself, I could’ve gone at least four minutes slower per mile.

When the official on the bike said that I might as well quit because I wasn’t going to finish, I asked him to confirm that I had 6 hours from when I started. He never got an official answer on his walkie. Since he thought the course was closing at 1:45 (6 hours after the race started), I very painfully threw off the crutches and started hobbling without them. (More on this tomorrow.) It was the only way that I was going to be able to make up some of that lost time.

Later in mile probably 7, a woman in the sag wagon came along and said I wasn’t going to make it. I was hobbling along, giving it my all, and I said that no matter what, I would make it – with a six-hour time limit, I’d be fine. She replied that it was 6 hours from when the MARATHON started at SIX AM! There was NO WAY on this earth that I was going to finish by noon. I basically almost had a heart attack right there by the wagon. I tried to explain to her that I had checked the website at least ten times (since I was nervous and injured) to make sure the six-hour limit was for the half. I was positive that the earliest the course could possibly close no matter how someone looked at it was 1:45.

She didn’t believe me. She just said well that’s the situation, but “don’t worry about it.” I don’t know in what universe I could’ve just “not worried about it.” Obviously I’m worried about it! I have to finish this race before they close the course!

The guy on the motorcycle behind her also checked on me. I told him what she had said and he agreed that the course closed at noon! I said “no, no, no. The earliest it could be is 1:45.” And he said “okay, so you want someone to come get you at 1:45?” And I said “No! No one will have to come get me. I’ll be crossing the finish line!”

All this back and forth was a real headache. It was the only annoying part of a great race. Six hours is an incredibly generous time limit, so my complaints should barely be allowed to exist. But at the end, when I was hurting, I wished beyond wish that I had had those extra 52 minutes that I thought/hoped I was going to have.

More than anything I just didn’t like the stress of different people scaring me with different time limits. Although, I am glad the man on the bike said something because I was pacing as though I had six hours. And I didn’t. But enough about time limits. On to the rest of the actual story tomorrow.

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