Having not had an issue with my seeding in the previous two events, I found this year to be frustrating. My time was 56:02 in 2015 and 53:11 in 2016. So I was hoping for more of the same this year.
I emailed the organisers after my tweet to them (disappointingly) didn’t receive a reply.
Shortly thereafter, I received an abrupt reply to my email:
The seeding is done by an automated system and is based on factors such as date you entered and limited numbers per batch. It is done by an external company and unfortunately we cannot change it.
This completely contradicted their website and what they posted on on Facebook.
We had to collect our race numbers from The Avenue at the V&A Waterfront on Wednesday or Thursday before the race. Not the most accessible venue, with no free parking available. The Justin Bieber concert at Green Point Stadium on Wednesday evening resulted in terrible congestion.
I queried my seeding with one of the event organisers at the information desk. They told me seeding “hadn’t gone according to plan” and that I must wait and see if they resolve it later in the week. And that was the last I heard of it.
Having driven past the start area the night before, I noticed that batch F was not set up. I made my way to the start at around 8:30 a.m. on the morning of the race. There was still no sign of batch F, only a hoard of runners around batch E, who’s seeding pen wasn’t closed off. This resulted in all F runners merging with the back of E, causing major congestion.
Shortly after 9 a.m. when the race started, the mass of E and F runners moved forward. Not long afterwards, there was a sudden surge as everyone starting jogging towards the start. Upon reaching the start, the announcer said that some of the D batch had pushed through the tape. A few minutes later and without warning we were off – this large group of D, E and F runners fighting for position.
As expected, I had a tough task ahead of me. For as far as the eye could see, runners filled both lanes of the road into town. It was an obstacle course of weaving between walkers and joggers as I made my way towards the harbour. The pacers for 1:15 and 1:25 were soon overtaken and I saw a glimmer of hope in the form of the flag of a 55 minute pacer (4:30/km).
By the time we made our way past the CTICC, the road had somewhat cleared and comprised of runners for the most part. I was happy with the time I’d set thus far and looked on course for a sub 54 minute time. Based on my seeding and supposed start time, I was over the moon with this.
A solid push up Government Avenue and across onto Bree Street saw us onto the final stretch for a fast finish. I ended with a respectable time of 53 minutes and 15 seconds. Having spent a lot of energy to constantly pick a clean running line along the route, I was more than happy with my result.
A medal, bottle of water and can of Liqui-Fruit welcomed the runners after the finish line. Not one to stick around after a race, I made my towards where I’d arranged a lift to get home.
Later in the day we received our official results, provided by Finish Time:
Overall, I finished 425 out of 11238 runners based on my net time. This confirmed my argument that batch F was not the correct seeding for me.
The number of participants seems to be growing each year, so seeding needs reviewing. Previous finish times of runners should allow for more accurate seeding. This unfortunately counts against first time runners. But this is par for the course with most timed, mass-participation events.
If 10 km personal best times count towards seeding, then a way of verifying this must take place. It could be as simple as a link to an activity on Strava or Garmin Connect. Using an official event result would be preferable, but this will also count against some.
Number collection needs to be in a more accessible area. Forcing people to have to pay for parking at the V&A Waterfront is not fair. Also cater for people who may live far from the CBD. This is not the easiest of venues to get to during the week. An (official) Saturday morning collection would also help people.
The start chutes need to be better controlled. As mentioned in my situation, runners from D, E and F got mixed up into one group. This was due to flimsy red and white tape used to separate hundreds of people. Needless to say this didn’t do a good job of holding them back.
There was an insane amount of litter on the course from water sachets. The sheer volume of runners resulted in there being an inadequate number of bins. An event like this is a great place to enforce good habits for all runners.
Will I return next year? I doubt it. The dismissive way in which the organisers handled my queries before the event was unprofessional. Never mind the contradictory messages between the various support channels.
Would I recommend this event to someone else? Sure, but with a disclaimer that they should manage their expectations beforehand. There is a huge focus on the VIPs and elite athletes. Unless you fall into that category, your experience could be disappointing.More from my journal →