Thursday, June 10, 2010

RnR San Diego - The Bad and the Ugly!

Let me start by saying this was my first Rock n Roll event and I have heard both good and bad things about their races in the past. You can read about the race itself in my previous post here.

Let's start with the expo...crowded, very crowded but that is to be expected on a Saturday afternoon. After we got our bibs, goodie bags and t shirts, we were placed into the RnR "dump shop" where you could buy all sorts of RnR branded items. The area was about 1/3 the size of the hall, with lots of room to move around. I walked into the main part of the expo and it was set up in traditional trade show manor, booths on both sides of an aisle that was about 10 feet wide. I have borrowed these pictures from Glenn as I didn't take any pictures in the expo. The aisles were extremely packed and it was difficult to move around and see what the vendors had to offer. At one point, I needed to use the restroom and were told they were right outside the exit. I ventured out, found them and then ran into Linda, Glenn and a few other twitter folks. I chatted for a while and decided to head back in...I was told I had to go back through the entrance, which puts you right back into the RnR "dump shop". It took about 10 minutes just to get back and find the rest of my group.

 I like to be prepared and that probably stems from my time in the Boy Scouts, so getting to 2 weeks out until the race without any information from RnR was a little unnerving. My biggest concern was how were we going to get to our relay points. We finally got the "Final Race Instructions" email from RnR that detailed how to get to and from relay points. Even up until 9pm on Saturday night, we were still figuring out how to get our team members to the various points. We finally decided that our first runner would share a cab with another runner at our hotel to the start line. Leg 2 and 3 would walk 1/2 mile to a trolley stop and head to our perspective relay points and leg #4 would drive and park near Fiesta Island...FAIL, no parking so she had to park at Fashion Valley, take the trolley to Linda Vista and walk 1+ miles to her relay point. Point to point races are always a logistical nightmare for the race directors, but in this case it was made worse by having people park at Qualcom stadium and take the shuttle to the start or trolley to your relay point. Why not park at Sea World? Why not end the race at the stadium? More on this later...

At my relay point (#2) there was some semblance of organization. There was a tent setup with a PA system and a someone from the race staff. He did give instructions on what to do as far as the hand off was concerned and then said he would be calling out team numbers as they approached. Nothing was mentioned about any food/drink at the relay stations or that is where you pick up your medal. After a couple of relay team numbers were called, the computer system went down...and came back up in about 5-6 minutes. My team mate came in and I was off. I passed by about 4 water stops on my leg and I will say that they were all very well stocked, but we were early in the race. When I handed off the baton to my team mate, I looked around for some water. I found a table with bananas and Cytomax and grabbed one of each. I saw a girl giving out medals and I went over and got mine. I walked over to Penny's cheering station and Glenn had told me that he received instructions on how to get to the finish line at his relay point...I got nothing. I had decided beforehand that I would walk the 1+ miles to the next transition point. I had to stop and ask several police officers how to get where I wanted to go. They were all very accommodating with directions.

Melissa and I started walking towards the finish area and we decided to wait for Ann (leg #4) and run though the finish with her. Francesca (leg #1) took the trolley and then shuttle bus to get to finish area and met us. When we saw Ann, we broke through a couple of people and ran down the finish chute with her. One security guard was trying to wave us off the course and we just blew past him. We all crossed the finish line together and it made for a great picture. Ann got her medal and we waited in line to take the mandatory finish picture. We moved on and got some water and hit the food tables. I was really surprised not to see bagels out there, just chips. Side note: when I finished the LA Marathon, I got a bag of 6 bagels.  We then headed out into what we thought was the family reunion area...which it wasn't. We were finally told where it was and headed over there. When we got in there, it was a sea of people. Melissa and I went to the beer garden for our free beer. They were requiring photo ID to get in, the tag on your shoe has your age, what's wrong with that? Needless to say, it kept many people out since they didn't carry ID with them.

We finished our beer and decided to catch a shuttle back to the trolley stop. We saw the line and it was a HUGE line...we heard estimates of 90 minutes to get on a shuttle...ummm NO. We decided to make the walk back to the trolley stop. As we walked back (about 2 miles), I noticed that a lot of people had the same idea and many of them had just run 13.1 or 26.2 miles. When we got back to the trolley stop, there was about 2000 people in line. So got into line and waited a few minutes until someone said if you are going downtown, come this we followed and bypassed all of the people going out to the stadium to get their cars and got on the trolley. We traveled the one stop and walked back to the hotel. I have to think about those poor people that ran 26.2 miles, had to walk another 2 miles back to the trolley stop, wait in line for a trolley to get back to the stadium to get in their car to go home.  FAIL

So now that I have complained about the problems, how about some solutions...

Expo: Take 2 halls and spread things out, give people room the breathe and walk. Maybe limit the RnR branded items to a smaller area. I know it is a profit center for you but you are doing a disservice to the other vendors who you charged good money for a booth space and the customers cant get to see them because of the crowds.

Parking/Shuttles/Relay: How about multiple parking locations around the city and you could even do VIP parking at Sea World and charge a ridiculous price for the privilege. I'm sure Sea World would lease out a few hundred spots. Work with Taxi companies and allow them to pick up participants near the family reunion area...infuse a few more bucks into the local economy. Instead of using just the Linda Vista trolley stop, have shuttles go to the Old Town trolley stop as well. You must make it easier for the race participants to get back to their cars, no one wants to walk another 2 miles or stand in line for 90 minutes after running 26.2 miles. As far as the relay...if the relay transition point isn't fairly close, have a shuttle bus running to take them from the trolley to the transition...there were only 187 teams, that's 187 people that would need to shuttled.

I realize that the competitor group is in busines to make money and they have done a good job of raising money for the various charities they work with. They must understand that the participants in these races are what are supporting them and the charities they work with and if you alienate them, they will not come back and do another RnR event. Maybe because they added both the half marathon and relay this year, they werent as prepared as they should have been. Hopefully they will take the feedback they are receiving and make changes for next year. This race left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth concerning RnR events and I probably wouldn't run RnRSD ever again, but I am signed up for RnR LA, so I will give them a second chance. One of my motto's in life...I will try anything once, and twice, just to make sure I didnt like it.

1 comment:

Glenn Jones said...

I like your parking/transportation ideas Bob. The bigger question in my mind is why not finish at Qualcom?