The Evolution of Road Racing

Posted by Tim Irvine on Thursday, February 12, 2015 Under: Race Days

         Ask anyone over the age of 50 who has been running most of their life and you can hear some pretty good stories about how road racing “used to be”. As someone who began running at age 10 myself, I have seen a lot of changes in the world of running and racing over the past 36 years.

       The advances in running shoes come to mind. There have been many. Along the way we witnessed the dominance of Nike evolve before our very eyes. Sure there were other players in the running boom of the 80's, but the clear winner was Nike. Although other brands have carved out their own part of the marketplace over the years, some coming, some going; Nike has been synonymous with running and most all things athletic since it's inception. But the gear is only a small part of this story.

      The races themselves have changed. Wasn't so long ago that you could look for and find a 5K, 10K, 8K, 15K and occasionally a Half Marathon or Full Marathon and Half together. Walking wasn't so much a division, but there were people who took it serious, and you'd better not disrespect their commitment; even if you didn't understand it. Respect was shown rather than spoken. runners, and the races were a triumphant conclusion to the long hard road of training for a single race in some cases.  I once trained an entire year for a single race. I raced other races while training, after all, what better way to measure progress that to test yourself against other runners? What I learned in that year was that no matter what race I ran, how I finished, what my time was, my focus never changed from the race I was training for. People who knew me then might say it was an obsession, but as I have reflected over the years, I think it's more of the way it was back then; for me at least.

                                                         State Games of MS Boo Run - Meridian, MS

        Today races feature more variety. There are not only theme driven races that in some cases have little to do with competition, but varied distance races that also keep things interesting. I am timing two races this year that are not a traditional 5K distance. One is 5.29K, the other is 3.21 miles. Both race distances are tied to the organizations that benefit from the races. Both are very worthy causes. 
Race scheduling has become quite competitive for race directors hoping to lure runners to their events. Organizers are thinking outside the box and bringing us such events as Warrior Dash type adventure/endurance racing. Color runs have become a popular option or fad that may stick around or fade like the powered colors they are known for. Foam races, Zombie runs, and even Red Dress events that are not just for the ladies anymore; have become all the rave.

        So what happened to the competitive running events from 30 years ago? As road racing has evolved into running events, the calendars have become overflowing with races to choose from. People are trying new types of racing and races to attend. The popularity of the marathon has also played a part in runnings' recent leap in evolution. Companies such Competitor Group who owns the Rock and Roll Marathon series have enjoyed great success while some more traditional long standing races have fallen by the way side. Then there are Ultra Marathons, Trail Races, Triathlons and Glow Runs.

        It's without a doubt a great time to participate in a race. It is also a great time to just be a runner and/or walker. Because with so many events to choose from, there is really no reason to stay home on a beautiful Saturday morning.

                                                                                                                     See you at the races. Tim 

In : Race Days 

Tags: running races 

About Me

Tim Irvine
Meridian, Ms
Tim Irvine