Random Thoughts

SCSE Blog or better know as random thoughts

We get asked all kinds of questions and every so often even have a random thought that is meaningful, so if you have a few minutes of time to waste, read on.  Have a random thought, question, comment or concern?  Let us know

2020 Random Thoughts  

What is the Big Deal With Permitting Distance Races?

As most people know, we have cancelled a truck load of races and have been scrambling to find locations for replacement races. There are two schools of thought with folks who provide permits for races. The first is a solid “NO; go away.” The other is “sure, we will consider it. Show us how you can do it safely.” I have prattled on about our social distancing plan ad nauseum. If you want to see it in action, here it is.

There are three challenges to permitting long distance events:

1. Nothing is open. Most municipalities are not willing to shut down streets right now to let some yahoo hold a race. The two obvious replacement courses are the Glacial Drumlin Trail & the trails in Milwaukee. Both are closed for racing.

2. Crossing major roads. There are two great trails in Waukesha County: The Lake Country Trail and the Bugline. Both cross major roads and, again, what municipality is going to let you close an 8 lane road on a weekend?

3. Aid stations. I have committed to being 100% touch free and we have not found a way to do that with aid stations yet. Sure, we could put out a table and set water bottles 1’ apart from each other, but what happens when a runner wipes the snot off of his or her face, reaches for a bottle and touches it, but doesn’t take it? Bet you never thought of that, but that is exactly what we think about when planning events. Oh, the solution is to provide bag drop areas for you to put your own hydration and nutrition.

So, that is why you see our longer races in parks doing laps or on a trail doing an out and back. I readily acknowledge it is not how we want to be doing races, but it is how we must do races if we want to race. Heck, it could be worse. You could live in a county that is 100% shut down. At least we are running together, albeit spaced 10’ apart.

Happy running!

How Do You Design a Medal?

Now, that might be the easiest question ever! We use Hasty Awards, and have a phenomenal rep named Weeks. Super easy to work with, knows our business, and, most importantly, picks up the phone every time we call.

Ok, back to the question. Hasty has a great design department. I send Weeks a race and her graphics departments comes up with something. They have done so many designs for us that the first rendering is perfect 99% of the time. Just another reason to find a vendor and stick with them.

What Is the Biggest Complaint We Get From Residents & Municipalities?


You know those little tabs you pull off energy gel packs and throw on the ground, followed by the same energy gel pack 100m later? Ok, not you, but someone did. Those are very hard to see, making them very hard for our aid station volunteers and course crew to pick up. Thus, we miss them, but you know who doesn’t? The person who is mowing their lawn and do you know the first person they call? Their alderman, who, in turn, calls the special events department, who calls me!

No matter how much I explain what our thorough cleanup process is, there is still trash sitting on someone’s lawn and it is our fault. 
I know an angry phone call doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it is a huge deal. It puts our permit and every other race director’s permit in jeopardy.

The alderperson and/or special event staff will remember it next year and, in some municipalities, you have to get the Alderperson to approve your permit before submitting for approval.

That tiny piece of energy gel packet can have a giant affect on the race business. I know because it has happened to us. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and we eventually received the permit.

Happy Running!

How Do You Know How Much Water to Bring?

Now, that is top secret race director stuff! Actually, planning for aid stations isn’t overly complicated, but moving water is a pain in the rump. Having too much isn’t an issue, but having too little water is a giant issue. So how do you do it?

The formula is pretty simple. We use 9oz cups, which are filled with 7oz of water. Each runner uses 2 cups of water at each aid station. Runners X cups per aid station X number of aid stations X 7oz. Then convert that to gallons and, shazam, there is your number!

However, it is never that simple. Most races have multiple distances and the aid stations closest to the start line will see more runners. Aid station one on a 5K, 10K & half course will see more runners than aid station 6 on the half course. So how do we know how much water goes to each?

Let me complicate things just a little. All races over a 10K have sports drink. How much sports drink should you have at each aid station? Should you buy premixed or do it yourself? Should you premix it or have volunteers mix it. How are you going to get all that “stuff” to the aid stations and how are you going to get it all back?

Don’t forget you need garbage cans, bags, a way to communicate with volunteers, and an emergency action plan.

See, I told you it was simple.

Happy running!

Souper Bowl 5K Was Super Paper Free!

For the first time ever, we went paper free! Packet pickup, registration, race day instructions, race maps, and results were 100% free of paper! I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but as the guy who consumed all that paper, it took a ton of time and was extremely wasteful.

I could prattle on about how green it is and how we are saving the earth, but the reality is, the reason we did it is because it saves time and money and creates a better experience for our guests. Besides, did you really like standing next to hundreds of sweaty runners trying to find your time on a printed results sheet?

Ok, so it was not 100% green. Our timer still handwrites the first few runners that cross the finish line on a piece of paper, we print QR codes that link to results, course maps, and volunteer instructions and I still have my race organization sheet, but that certainly beats the ream of paper that ended up in the trash.

Now that we solved that problem, onto the paper cup dilemma…

How Do We Measure a Course?

Last week, I wrote about certifying a race course and a bunch of people asked how we measure a course, since we don’t certify most of our races.
The process depends on the type of course, but it almost always starts with mapmyrun.com and Google Earth. Once we get a basic design for a road course, we drive the course and measure it with multiple GPS units* and the vehicle odometer. When the start and finish lines are set, we drive the course a final time.
If the course is a trail, it is a similar process, but we usually drive the course with a utility vehicle. Designing a trail course is much more difficult because many of them are not on mapmyrun.com and they are finite in distance. Unlike a road course, you can’t just move a cone 100 meters to get the right distance. 
The process for designing a trail course can be unbelievably time consuming. When we designed the National Watermelon Day Run at Pike Lake, it took an entire day to map the park and design the courses.
Ever wonder how often we create races? I have 225 race courses on mapmyrun.com! We design courses all the time.
If you ever have an idea for a course or race, just let me know at sean@silvercirclesportsevents.com.
Happy course designing!

What Is a Certified Course and Why Doesn’t Silver Circle Sports Events Certify All of Their Courses?

The USATF certifies courses. If you want to know all about the process of certifying a course, they have a 67-page manual that can be found here.
Here are the cliff notes: You hire a certified certifier to certify the course. He has a certified bicycle that he rides and measures the course - twice. Of course, it is much more complicated than that (see the 67-page manual), but that’s the gist of it.
Why don’t we certify all of our courses?
1. It costs a lot of money.
2. It doesn’t really matter if the 5K fun run is certified.
3. We do a lot of trail runs and getting to an exact distance is almost impossible since the parks frown upon us cutting down trees and creating new trails.
4. You’re not going to qualify for the Boston Marathon with your 5K fun run time.
Why do we certify some courses?
Most of the major marathons you have to qualify for (NY, Boston, DoLittle) and your qualifying time has to be on a certified course. If you are slow like me, there are courses setup to help you get a qualifying time. For example, the DoLittle is a small SCSE race that is flat and fast. The Lapham Peak Trail Race marathon, on the other hand, is a pretty difficult course that you would not want to try to use for qualifying. Besides, it isn’t certified; see #3 above.

You Scheduled ABC Race on the same Day as XYZ Race!

How do we determine when a race should be? That certainly seems like a very simple answer, but it can actually be relatively complicated. 

Ever notice that the Chilly Willy Winter Run Series doesn’t overlap the Winter Run Series? That’s because we worked with Lighthouse (now Race Day Events) so that didn’t happen. In fact, we work with most of the local race companies and try not to schedule competing events on the same days.

We also have to work around the schedules of existing non-running events. For example, Twinkle All The Way 5K had to be moved to the week of Thanksgiving because the Christmas Parade and the German Christmas market had dibs on the dates we wanted. 

Mother Nature also has a say. Back to Yule Twinkle All The Way: I would love to do it the second week in December, but the county won’t allow us to plow the path we use for the course and if Mother Nature decides to snow, we are out of luck.

Our July 11th elimination run is on the same day as another well-known trail run. Unfortunately, it was the only date that we could get Minooka Park. Sometimes, you just have to take what is given to you. Did I just say we are going to have a 4 mile, 8 mile, 16 mile, & 24 mile elimination run at Minooka Park on July 11th? You just never know what you are going to find in these random thoughts - like our new 50K on September 12th.

We do all we can to play well with others in the sand box, but sometimes we have to overlap other events. If you want to run our July 11th Hill On Earth Elimination Run, we would love to have you! If you want to run another race that day, we certainly understand. 

Hope to see you at a finish line soon!

A Special Event

Silver Circle Sports Events, LLC donates and raises money for all kinds of organizations, but there is one that is particularly near and dear to us: The Timothy Gahagan Memorial Frostbite Scramble. We donate 100% of our management, equipment, staff, and marketing. That’s because 100% of the proceeds go to support the cops and firefighters in our community. Notice I didn’t say departments; I said cops and firefighters.

The Timothy Gahagan Frostbite Scramble is a 9-hole “golf” outing on frozen Silver Lake. We plow a course on the lake and “golfers” use a tennis ball and their choice of “golf” club: hockey stick, broom, 2X4, 5 iron, tennis racket, etc.

Over the years, we have used the proceeds from this event to purchase ballistic shields, personal protection equipment, radios, and AEDs. We’ve also been able to pay for advanced medical training. Last year, we purchased equipment that protects officers from Fentanyl! Can you believe we have cops on the streets protecting us, but they didn’t even have equipment to protect them from Fentanyl?

Here is how you can help: Sign up to play in the scramble on Saturday, January 25th, sponsor a hole, provide a raffle item, or make a donation so we can continue to support these heroes.

If you want to know who Timothy Gahagan is why we’ve named this event in his honor, you can read about it on the event website.

2019 Random thoughts

Why does it cost the same to participate in a 1 mile walk as it does the 5K run?

Now, that is a great question! The simple fact of the matter is, there really isn’t an operational cost difference for most race companies when a walk is held in conjunction with a run. Most walkers will do the walk in 20-30 minutes. Most runners will finish the run in 20-40 minutes.

Most walkers will use an aid station once. Most runners will use the aid station once.

Most walkers will use the restrooms 1-2 times. Most runners will use them 1-2 times.

The permit cost is the same, as is the amount of marketing, technology, insurance, labor, and equipment. Same shirt, occasionally a medal, same beer, and same finish line food. The building/park cost is the same.

Theoretically, there would be a savings in the number of police officers on the course, but most police departments charge a minimum number of hours anyways.

Stop throwing stuff in the trash

Now that we have gone paperless at packet pickup, I no longer have to assign bib number and print hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of registration sheets for our staff to check you in. I know you’re thinking how does this help me? Here is how.
We have always allowed people to give their bib to someone. Hey if you paid for it and can’t make it why shouldn’t you be able to give it to someone? The reason we had a cut off date is because I had to assign bibs and print all those sheets. Now I don’t and that means we allow people to exchange bibs all the way up to the day before the race.

You must do it online and you must do it! Here is how. We require it be done because we need your waiver, your emergency contact info and if you don’t do it online you really screw up results and that frankly makes all your fellow runners very angry. We will NOT change your results after the race if you don’t do it online and you and your bib giftor will likely be put on the SCSE naughty list which is shared with all the other RD’s in the country and you will be banned from all US races. Ok that was an exaggeration, but you get the point. Do it online free.

Happy Bib Exchanging

Wow, That Is a Ton of Trash!

I was at a race unwrapping medals with another race director the other day. As we stood there for hours and hours unwrapping medals, we both got to chatting about all the waste in our industry:

  • Why do we get medals shipped in individual bags?
  • If a box of water is not full, it goes in the dumpster. 
  • Most of the leftover food goes to volunteers or in the dumpster.
  • Shirts are given away, sent to a shelter, or end up in a dumpster.
  • All those “paper” cups are not recyclable because they have a wax coating. Yep, they all go in a dumpster. Just imagine a marathon with 26 aid stations and 1,000 runners. If every runner takes one cup at each aid station, that is 26,000 cups in a landfill. If it is hot and they take two and if there are 20,000 runners… well, you get the point. 

This isn’t always true. Lots of race companies take bottles of water back and try to contact food pantries, but it isn’t always possible. Wrangling 1,500 individual water bottles or a couple hundred 1-gallon bottles is next to impossible; it’s very difficult to transport and warehouse them, which is why they end up in the trash.  

I wish I had a simple solution, but I don’t. Here is what Silver Circle Sports Events, LLC is doing to help cut down on waste:

  1. Our medal vendor no longer ships medals individually wrapped in plastic.
  2. We have gone 95% paperless at races.
  3. We take all 1-gallon bottles back whether they are boxed or not. We then recycle all the empty bottles.
  4. We have limited our individual water bottles consumption and committed to recycling them.
  5. All food goes to volunteers, shelters, or farms for feed.
  6. Shirts are donated to shelters, veteran groups, or we give them to runners in exchange for a donation to our charity partners.
  7. If it is a client event, we recycle as much of their waste as possible, including schlepping all those individual water bottles back to the warehouse.

Sure wish I had a solution for paper cups at aid stations, though. 

If you have any suggestions, I am all ears.

Happy recycling!

What up with PPU?

PPU means packet pickup and what’s up with it is that we’re changing the way SCSE does it.
Beginning with the Chilly Willy Winter Run Series Vets Day Run, packet pickup will be held at the SCSE global headquarters. Now, don’t get too excited to see the global headquarters because it’s a warehouse. Actually, it’s an old fire station.

We decided to hold PPU internally because we are going to a dynamic bib processing system. That isn’t a revolutionary achievement, but we want to work all the bugs out before we ask volunteers to do it. That means you will get to see the shiny face of an SCSE staff member when you pickup!

You will also get a chance to “see how the sausage is made”. Because we do all our own timing and equipment, we office in a warehouse and not a shiny 40 story office building. Besides, landlords get really angry when you hump barricades up and down in an elevator.

I acknowledge Oconomowoc isn’t exactly convenient for everyone. You can always have someone else pickup your bib and or do it on race day. We are one mile off the interstate and there is lots to do in Oconomowoc - like load cones onto a box truck, put chips on bibs, fill water jugs, rack cades. You know, all the fun stuff that goes into “making the sausage”.

Come on out, chat with the staff, and peruse our merchandise. Just be careful how long you stand around or someone will give you an SCSE safety vest and ask you to load a truck.

Dude, Why Did You DQ Me?

There are lots of reasons why someone would get a DQ at a race, but the most frequent reason is because the runner didn’t follow race day or announcer instructions about the course and splits. 

For example, last weekend, we had a race that used laps and we had a separate timing point to count laps. If you ran the 10K, we would record your start read at the start line, your split read at the split point, and your finish read at the finish line. If you crossed the finish line on your first lap instead of the split mat, you got a DQ. Yep, that sounds super harsh, but we don’t have a choice in order to report accurate race day results and present awards.

We use the DQ as a timing method to separate out the runners who accidentally cross the finish line instead of the split point until we get their actual finish times. The software is just doing what we tell it to do when we set up the timing points. When you cross the finish line instead of the split point, the software thinks you finished and are super fast. If we don’t temporarily DQ any runners who make this mistake, they will be listed in the results with their split time as their finish time and that messes up both the overall and age group results.

Generally speaking, you won’t ever see a DQ list at our races, but you may not see your name in the results printout. If that happens because you accidentally crossed the finish line instead of the split mats, just let the announcer or timer know and they can fix it. This is also true if you change distances mid-race or ran with the wrong bib. It’s not a big deal, just let us know;  it’s way easier to change it at the race than a couple days later!

The moral of this Random Thought is: PLEASE read the race day instructions before you arrive at the event and listen to what the announcer says on race day. There is really important info in the race day instructions and the announcer is trying to reinforce that important course info… and Sasquatch sightings.

Of course, if you have any outstanding questions on anything in the race day instructions or that the announcer has said, you can always stop by the Running Ambassador area at all SCSE races. Those people know everything there is to know about all of our courses, but if you manage to somehow stump them, they also know how and where to get any additional info you’re looking for.

Happy Running 

More Taxes?

Have you noticed that almost all online stores are now charging sales tax? Here is why:

From Run Sign Up (July 2019)

“Yesterday the US Supreme Court struck down a 1992 landmark decision (Quill Corporation vs. North Dakota) that had previously barred states from seeking sales tax from businesses unless they have a physical presence in the state. The 1992 decision had allowed online ecommerce businesses to thrive by not having to comply with the myriad and complex state and municipal sales tax rules found in the 45 states that charge a sales tax. The decision by the Supreme Court in South Dakota vs. Wayfair Inc. clears the way for states to seek sales tax from out of state online sellers and levels the playing field for brick and mortar stores who have contended that online retailers have had an unfair pricing advantage by not have to collect and remit sales tax.”

As of October 1st, Run Sign Up began collecting sales tax on all WI events. What does this mean for you? Not that much. You will have to enter your zip code so they can apply the appropriate sales tax. What does it mean for us? Not much. We have been collecting sales tax forever. Just more paperwork.

If you are a race owner and have not been collecting sales tax, it’s time to call your accountant. 

Hey, Don't Do That!

I was going to write about delaying events, but that was super boring. Instead, here is a funny timing story.

First, the back story: As a timer, your biggest freak out period is when the first runner crosses the timing mats and you don’t get a read. It is instant panic, because you assume if you missed the first one, you are going to miss every other one. That has never happened to us, and it is almost impossible to do, but it is an “Oh [you know what]!” moment.

During last year’s Chilly Willy Winter Run Series, we had someone win the 5K every time he raced. We also missed his read every time he raced, but only his read. Our poor timer had a little panic attack until the second runner came in and then we picked up all the other reads. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. He was super fast; maybe he was superhuman and his superpowers affected the chip? Did he wear his bib wrong or did he have it covered up? Was there something wrong with our system?

I went back and looked at all his finish line photos and he was doing what just about every other runner does when they cross the finish line: he stopped his watch. The only difference is that he held his arm tight to his bib and that blocked the chip from reading. It doesn’t seem like that should make a difference, but it does. So, the next time you run a sub 16:00 5K, don’t put your arm right against your bib!

Now you know.


Wow, has time gotten away from me!

It has been over 100 days since we did a weekly update. In those 104 days, we have timed, managed, or supplied equipment to 44 races! With our race schedule slowing down, we’ll pick up again with our weekly updates. By “slowing down”, I mean we only have 16 races in the next 2 months!

After a short break over Christmas, we are right back at it with the Chilly Willy Winter Run Series. Yep, there is a price increase tonight so register now: only $175 for all 8 races! Hey, that’s less than $22/race and if you can’t make one, you can give your bib to someone for FREE. Of course, Brewfinity will be back with free beer and the #TeamSCSE crew will be rocking the free hot chocolate bar!

I am looking forward to finishing 2019 strong, kicking off a great 2020, and writing lots of behind-the-race-scenes Random Thoughts.
Make sure you read all the Weekly emails because we always feature a coupon or money saving tip somewhere in them.

Sometimes Privacy Is Not All It’s Cracked up to Be

I know everyone wants to maintain their privacy and not give out any of their info online. I totally get it and agree with it. That is why we use RunSignup to process all credit card transactions and not some “secure” website a high school computer wizard created and is hosting in a closet.

However, if you want your results to show up online, we kinda, sorta need to know who you are. This is particularly true with timing. The software only knows what we tell it and if you tell RunSignup “Show as anonymous in public participant lists and race results,” guess what? Your name isn’t going to be in the online results. 

Yes, you will appear in our race day results file, but as soon as we upload that file to RunSignup, you will appear as “Anonymous” because that’s what you asked it to do. 

Luckily, there is a super easy way to fix this. You can either change your name to “Anonymous” or, if you want to claim your PR for years to come, don’t check the “show up as anonymous” box when registering.

This comes from a blog post by James Adams

Chill out - eat grass

Did you know that Zebras are the least stressed animal in the world? This is measured by the level of cortisol in their bodies. They often get chased by a lion (which I imagine is quite stressful) but then when the ordeal is over they simply forget about it and carry on eating grass as if nothing happened at all. They don’t think about the next lion attack, they can’t control that and to spend time thinking about it would mean a life in therapy.

When I am running and something does not quite go right, say someone gets in my way or a gate is sticky or someone has fiendishly placed a large rock right where your fott has landed.  Then I just ask myself “what would a zebra do?” It would just forget about it and eat grass. That’s what I try to do, forget about it and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

A good way of practicing this is to cycle in London. There are hundreds of things that might upset you, cyclists jumping lights, zombie pedestrians, pot holes, van drivers etc. Each of these is an opportunity to practice being a zebra. If you can get to one side of Oxford Street to the other without calling another person something nasty you may well have passed.

So when stress is hitting you from all sides, just put on the stripes, get on the bike and start eating grass.

Liar, liar pants on fire.

About a month ago, I wrote about how races sell out. Since then, we sold out two races because we sold out of medals. 
We will never claim a race is about to sell out just for marketing purposes. When we say a race has X amount of space left, it actually has X amount of space left. If you want to participate in an event and want one of those shiny finisher medals, you should register early because once it is sold out, it is sold out.

What is the most frequently asked question?

How can I get my medal?

Medals can be picked up at our office the Tuesday following the event.
2911 N Dousman, Suite 3
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

They are located in a black box in front of the north vestibule that is open 24/7. If you would like it mailed, you can order it to be shipped here.

You can also find this information in the race day instructions. If you want to read more about metals, search for “Why can’t I just get my age group medal and leave?”

The Race is Sold Out! Kinda…

Here is how a race sells out and it’s probably not what you think:


It is true that some races sell out because of capacity, though this mostly affects the big races. Think of how long it takes to get 30,000 people across a start line, much less through 26.2 miles.

Course size

Some courses can only handle so many people. Some of our Wisconsin Trail Assail races are getting close to their capacities because you can only fit so many people on a 2-foot-wide technical trail.

Transition / Equipment

Triathlons are a little different. Lots of tris are restricted by the size of transition; you can only fit so many bike racks in an area and once you are out, you are out. 

“It’s hooey,” as Grandma Osborne says

I admit it. I just wanted to say “hooey” because I wanted to find a way to get 90-year-old Grandma Osborne into a Random Thought. I don’t know if it’s fair to say most races sell out because of this, but most races sell out because of this: Medals! 

Races must order medals way in advance. There are plenty of formulas and software to determine how many medals to order, but it all comes down to the SWAG. If you order too many, you sit on medals. If you order too few, you call your race sold out. 

This weekend is Run Like A Mother. Last year, we had around 500 runners, so this year I ordered 650 medals. There is almost zero chance you can rely on an increase that large, but it happened:  the race will sell out! Well, it will sell out because we ran out of medals.

So, there you have it. Races sell out because the race owner didn’t order enough medals.

What Is Going on with the Race Business?

I was running the other day and I started to think about all the things that have changed since I first started running. The same day, I had a conversation with a #TeamSCSE member about all the things that have transpired over time and we stumbled on the dated customer service policy in the race community.

Historically, the race industry had followed Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” approach. No, you can’t give your bib to someone! No, you can’t defer your race! No, you can’t change distances! Occasionally, you will get a yes - followed by a $10 change fee!

That has always bugged me. 

There are lots and lots of reasons for it. Some reasons are very legit, but technology has changed most of that. Remember when registration use to close two weeks before a race? We now keep registration open until race time. Remember being forced into a finish line chute so the timer could take the tag off your bib? Now we can sit a thousand miles away and time an event.

The race business is changing quickly. Instead of following Nancy’s “Just Say No” approach, we take Nike’s approach and Just Do It: you can always change distances, always defer your entry, and always gift your bib. Geez, we even have winter and summer series that are super cheap and you can gift your bib for the races you can’t make.

See change is good. Now if I could only figure out how to replace all those non-recyclable cups that end up in a landfill.

Park to Peak

A while ago, I wrote a Random Thought about not needing one of those fancy schmancy tri bikes concluding “at the end of the day, it is all about how good of an athlete you are. Even $10,000 bikes are slow if ridden by a slow athlete.”

I still believe that, but things have changed. I bought a Kickercore from Endurance House and signed up to use Zwift to go along with it. I love it. They are a little expensive, but if you can swing it, everyone should have one.

Alan Halfen created an event called Path to Peak. It is a one-mile time trial up the hill leading to the tower at Lapham Peak. It’s only 250 feet in elevation change, but it is a doozy. I decided to test my “athlete vs bike” theory by riding the course with two different bikes.

The first bike:
Sean - Focus mountain bike
Alan - Specialized Cruz gravel bike 

Sean: 6:25
Alan: 5:32

Second bike:
Sean – Cannondale Slice tri bike with sram 60 aero wheels
Alan – Specialized Shiv tri bike with aero wheels

Sean: 6:03
Alan: 6:26

How does this make any sense? Because it is about the athlete, not the bike!

  • Alan had ridden the course a couple time earlier in the week, but this was my first time, so I likely held back on the first race.
  • I started the first race in front, so he had someone to chase. Yes, he caught me. On the second race, he started first and I caught him. 
  • Alan also rode 50 miles the day before on the hills around Holy Hill and I rode my couch.
  • The course is only 1 mile, so the equipment doesn’t make that much of a difference.
  • None of the bikes are meant to climb hills. If we added a road bike, I suspect the bike would make a difference.

We plan on doing this punishment every week. I suspect over the summer, the times will come down and the bikes will make less of a difference because it is such a short course. In this case, it is all about the athlete because of the short distance. Where you will see a difference in equipment is over longer distances. A tri bike is much more efficient and comfortable on a long road course.

Want to join in the Park to Peak punishment?  We are working on a permit to hold a race this summer but if you are a #TeamSCSE member, we ride the hill once a week. All you have to do is join the team at our Facebook page.

Dude you want my bib?

I have seen a lot of chatter about selling bibs or giving away bibs in the past few weeks.

Before I ramble on about the perils of just giving your bib to someone, we allow bib swaps at all our races for FREE.  Charging to swap a bib is like charging to pick up your packet. Ya we don’t do that either.

Why you should not just swap a bib:

1. It affects other runners. When you take another person’s bib and don’t do it officially, you are running under that person’s name and age group.   If you are a speedster and place in the top 3, it is likely you have just taken a top three spot from someone who deserved it. Not a big deal?  What if it was you and it was the only time you would have ever placed in a race?

2. Many of our races are part of a series. If you take that person’s bib and we don’t know, we assign the series points to that person. Again, that is not fair to the others in that division.

3. It mucks up results.  Generally speaking, if you are a dude that takes a female bib it is not likely you are going to accept that award.  Our announcer will likely not call your name. Note I said likely because sometimes we do.  On purpose.

4. When we are communicating with staff on course, we use bib numbers.  It usually sounds something like this.  Bib 2344, male 40ish, grey shorts, blue shirt and white hat.  When we look up that bib number it comes back as 60-year female, it causes lots of confusion on course with staff and volunteers.

5. This one keeps me awake at night.  If there was ever an emergency, we use the bib number for EMS and to notify people. Can you imagine calling your emergency contact to tell them you are on the way to the hospital when it’s not actually you?

Don’t think it happens?  It happens all the time and causes us problems. Recently we had a runner come across the finish line in first place. I didn’t see him, but he registered in our system as the first-place male in the half.  When I looked up his info in our system, he was a 58-year-old male.  While it is certainly possible for a 58-year-old man to win a half, it is not likely in a large event.  When I tracked down the person with that bib, it was a 30 year of female.

All of this can be avoided.  We allow bib transfers for FREE.  All you have to do is log into your Run Sign Up account, select the race and transfer the bib.  Easy peasy and it avoids any problems on race day.

Is Wisconsin the Running Capital of the World?

Like anyone would ever say that, but it might be true.

This weekend there were three “large” races. The Milwaukee Marathon, Badgerland Striders South Shore Half Marathon, and the Waukesha Parks Foundation Trailbreaker Marathon.

Without question, the Milwaukee Marathon reduced the attendance at South Shore and Trailbreaker. South Shore routinely has 850ish attendees and this year had 641. Trailbreaker averages 650ish and had 500 this year. Between those two races, the Milwaukee Marathon took 350ish people out of the “runner pool”.

The Milwaukee Marathon attendance is reported around 8,000. I don’t know if that is accurate, but it is still thousands and thousands and thousands of people running in WI that would otherwise not have been running that day! That is good for Milwaukee, good for Wisconsin, but even better for our running community. 

Large running events are GREAT for the endurance community. It proves to the naysayers that WI can support major endurance events. It proves to the business community that endurance events can drive revenue, and it proves to local leaders that there is demand for large scale endurance events.

Overall, it was a successful running weekend. Now, if we could get everyone on the same page and not schedule major events on the same day, it would make for even more great weekends in Wisconsin.

It’s a Wrap!

The Chilly Willy Winter Run Series is in the books. Just about 5,000 people registered for the races! I say “registered” because the weather was so crazy, we had a 50% no show at a couple events.

From -25 degrees at the Frosty 5K to rain, snow, ice, and then rain again at the Flannel 5K, we had it all. We even had to move Shake Your Shamrocks because there was still ice on the path. Oh, and a backhoe unexpectedly dug a trench in the middle of the course. Clearly, Mother Nature was not in our court this year.

The wrap party will be this Thursday, April 4th at Endurance House Delafield from 6-7pm. We will award the team trophy, hand out age group awards, and if you’re ambitious, you can register for the 2019 -2020 Chilly Willy Winter Run Series! It’s only $140, but you have to do it this Thursday. If you can’t make it, have someone register for you.

Age group medals will be at Endurance House until April 12th and then they will be at our office and available to be picked up anytime.

What’s in store for next year? You will just have to wait and see. We don’t expect to change races, but we may just add some. If you registered this weekend, or register this Thursday, all new races will be included.

Thanks for a great winter running season! Off to the Wisconsin Trail Assail Series which starts in less than two weeks!

Last Minute Changes

I never like to use those three words together. They cause havoc on staff & volunteers, but I know it causes lots of challenges for our guests, too. We try to over communicate by doing the following:

  1. The Monday preceding a race, we email race day instructions to everyone registered.
  2. On all our race websites, we have a “Race Week Info” section right at the top of the page. We include race day instructions, course maps, last minute info, results, and photos.
  3. We post updates on Facebook and Twitter daily. 

If you are not getting our emails, check your spam filter or you may have unsubscribed from our email service. You can re-subscribe by going to our website and entering your email in the “Subscribe To Our Mailing List” section on the bottom of the page. 

If you register someone using your email, they will not get any notifications. We encourage participants to register themselves, so they get notifications. If you do register someone, please enter their contact info so we can send them race notifications.

When in doubt, shoot me an email or call me. My number is right there on the website. 


The Truth About Custom Running Bibs

As SCSE grows, our footprint gets larger and larger and I start thinking about waste, both in economic and environmental terms. Ever wonder why we stopped doing goody bags? Just think how many millions and millions of goody bags end up in landfills from the running community. What if all race directors stopped doing goody bags? Just saying, fellow race directors.

This leads me to my garbage can epiphany.

Last week we had a 50% no show rate because the weather “professionals” once again predicted the sky was going to fall. Of course, it didn’t. I was going through the leftover bibs and as I threw handful after handful of bibs into the garbage, I thought “this is really dumb.”  The only reason these are going in the garbage is because a runner’s name was printed on them. How does this make any sense? I was literally throwing a perfectly good bib and chip in the garbage (aka landfill) just because of some words on it.

All of our bibs are reusable unless a runner’s name is printed on it. If a runner doesn’t show up at an event, we take that bib and use it at another race. If a name is on the bib, it goes in the garbage.

Today, I am going to clean this weekend’s bib bin where we store our SCSE bibs without runner’s names on them.  All of the unused bibs are going to be used again. 

Next weekend is Shake Your Shamrocks where we have runner’s names printed on the bibs. Guess how many leftover bibs are going to be reused? 

I’m not saying we are absolutely going to stop printing runner’s names on bibs, but maybe we should?

When it all goes well, it all goes well. But what happens when it doesn’t?

The video below was taken by a backup GoPro at the Frostbite 5K.

The voice you hear in the background is from the guy in the safety vest. He is calling out bib numbers as runners cross the finish line on the race radio. A backup timer in the trailer is writing down bib numbers just in case. The guy in the safety vest is our equipment manager Rob, and you frequently will meet him running with you to the finish line with #TeamSCSE BOOOOOST.

The shadow of the person holding a camera is our EMT Becky taking backup photos just in case timing doesn’t work. Our EMT’s are, hopefully, never busy, so they frequently help with equipment and photos.

The second set of finish line mats is a second timing system just in case the first doesn’t work. Each timing system costs around $4,000.

Yep, that is four different systems in place to make sure you get an accurate time. Just think, this was only a 300-person race. Just imagine what we do for a 5,000 person race… The exact same thing!

“Dude, my team name doesn’t show up!”

I hear that a lot. I even hear it from our #TeamSCSE members that have been around for a long time.

Much of the confusion comes from having series registration and individual race registration. When you register for a series and join a team, you will be on that team for the entire series; however, that team does not automatically transfer to the individual race registration software. This is where the confusion comes in.

For example: you register for the series and create a team called ‘Trailgators” and then have all your teammates register for the series and select your team. Easy peasy!

You then invite your technology challenged Dad to run one of the races in the series and tell him to select Trailgators from the team list. After 15 minutes of trying to find Trailgators, he texts you to tell you it’s not on the list. Being a savvy runner, you know it is, and an ensuing 30 minute text-a-thon happens.

The reality is: you are both correct. The problem is that the series registration database doesn’t talk to the individual registration database. We make them get along the day before the race.

The solution is pretty simple: if you go to register for a series and your team name is not on the list, just create the team and then send the team name to your friends, telling them that they are welcome to create the same team name for individual events if they don’t want to register for the entire series. When we merge the series data with the individual data we will make it one big happy team. 

The software will ask if you want to create a password. It is best to not create a password because there really isn’t anything to protect and we don’t have access to them. If you forget the password, you have to start all over.

If you register and forget to join a team, no worries. All you have to do is go to your profile on Run Sign Up, select the race, and then join a team. When all else fails, just email us and we can take care of it for you.

For those computer geeks out there thinking there has to be an easier way to make the series and individual races talk to each other, there is, but it requires rewriting everything and that opens another can of worms.

Well, that may have been the most boring Random Thought you’ve ever read, but at least you won’t end up in a fight with your Dad after inviting him to join you at the Father’s Day Run.

High Five, Dude! 

I was running with Alan Halfen the other day and, as usual, we said hi to everyone. Much to our surprise, everyone returned the hello. I suppose this isn’t that strange, but I’m often surprised by the non-response. 

I wasn’t planning on mentioning this, but that is why it’s called Random Thoughts. One of the reasons I love to volunteer at an aid station or as a course marshal is because everyone says hi. They may be suffering inside, but they always say hi and are always appreciative. Can you think of any other place where everyone does that? Before you say “the happiest place on earth”, you clearly haven’t been there recently, or you would still be humming:

“It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world…”

You’re welcome for putting that in your mind for the remainder of the day.

Ok, back to saying hi. Lots of times when I run, I give little kids a giant high five. The parents look a little frazzled, but the kids love it.  
The next time you’re on a run or bike ride or pogo stick romp, give that person a high five or a giant hello. If they don’t do the same, give them a mental stink eye, but know you did your part to make running great.


Why run on a team?

Funny you should ask. When we started our team way back when, my goal was to compete against all those speedy teams. We had some really fast runners, but I totally missed the obvious reason to run on a team.

We rebooted the team in January 2018 with a different focus: the obvious one. 

I’ve run lots of events in my life and dragged my family to lots of them. While they smiled and congratulated me on my middle of the pack finish, I knew they didn’t feel the same way I did about running. My PR was not all that exciting to them and they couldn’t appreciate how difficult it is to finish a race while vomiting all over Coeur d'Alene.

Alternatively, when my family didn’t travel with me, I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with or, in the case of Coeur d’Alene, commiserate with me.

One race, I was standing at the finish line with my best Race Director smile on and noticed how the #TeamsSCSE members interacted with each other. It wasn’t about how fast they finished; rather, sharing their race experiences with people who had similar experiences. 

Now that the team has grown, members know there will be someone at the start line to ease the nervous jitters and at the finish line ready to celebrate, regardless of what the clock says. It took me some time to realize the team dynamic, but it was so obvious. Maybe I should have paid attention in psychology class.

The moral of the story is: join a team. It will improve your running experiences - even the bad ones. If you want to join #TeamSCSE, we welcome all, but there are lots of teams out there. Heck, we even welcome other teams to run on #TeamSCSE, too, if they want.

About that vomiting thing: my family did travel with me and I did vomit all over the run course. The truth is, it was my last tri and my last DNF. I’ll share the crazy mental journey I went through on the run course in the future.


2018 Random Thoughts

Do I need a tri bike to do a tri?

When I was racing tris, I had tri bike envy.  Athletes would pass me with some super-duper fast bike and in the back of my mind I secretly wished I had a fast bike, so I would be faster.  Then some girl riding a mountain bike passed me and I realized it’s not the bike.  It is the athlete.

Last weekend we had our first #TeamSCSE indoor bike ride.  It was informal, and you rode what you brought.  I brought my Cannondale Slice tri bike and Cyclops Fluid Trainer.  Mike brought his hybrid and old school trainer.  Steve brought his high-tech trainer with Bluetooth and fancy smancy app.  Others brought a myriad of technology all based on Bluetooth, apps and wifi.

After about 15 minutes, only Mike and I were riding. All the others were monkeying around with software issues.  It got me to thinking about technology and buying speed.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is great.  Super aerodynamic bikes are cool and will save you time.  Apps that track your watts, cadence and calories are all great and likely make you a better athlete.  Heck, you should spend $10,000 on a bike but you don’t need it. In fact, you don’t “need” any of it.

What you need is the willingness to tri.  Just get on your bike and start riding.  Start with 5 miles and then 10 and the next thing you know you will be knocking out 50-mile rides.  At some point you will want to be faster and you can buy a faster bike and all that “stuff’ that goes along with it.  It will make you faster but…..

Do you need all of it? Nope.  At the end of the day, it is all about how good of an athlete you are. Even $10,000 bikes are slow if ridden by a slow athlete.

As Kurt Cobain said, Come As You Are.

I hope to see you at a tri soon.

Christmas in Cambodia

The Pat Tillman VFW is looking to send 10,000 Christmas cards to our service members serving overseas. They are super short and we can help.

As a veteran who has served overseas, I can tell you that getting something like this means a ton.

I'm hopeful my fellow runners will help make a difference. All you have to do is ask people to write a short message in a Christmas card. It doesn't matter what the card looks like, but a short message thanking them would be great.

Bring those cards to the Gobble Wobble and we will send them out on the 26th. We will also have cards at the race but asking friends, family and coworkers would be super duper helpful.

If you won't be at the race, you can mail or drop them at our office (2911 N. Dousmand, Suite 3, Oconomowoc, WI 53066) or we can arrange to pick the up.

Freddie Mercury & SCSE?

Details, details, details

Ok this has nothing to do with running but has everything to do with running.

I was kicking back after the Vets Day run and watching Queen at Live Aid 1985.  What you haven’t seen it?  Well, Queen rocks.

Anyway, Freddie was rocking it when a staff member handed him a guitar.  I thought how hard can that be?  Then I got to thinking how much had to go correct before that guitar ever hit the stage.

Someone must book the band, get the permits, inventory equipment, load the trucks, hire staff, get volunteers, cops, medical, food & beverage and design merchandise.   Then someone has to drive the vehicles to the venue, set it all up and hope nothing breaks that you don’t have a backup for.  A promotor must market the show, sell all the tickets, negotiate a venue and get vendors singing the same tune.  Finally, the promoter hopes the band gets to the venue on time and that he doesn’t lose his shirt.

Sound familiar?  That is exactly what happens behind the scenes at SCSE.  Successful events happen because all the details are worked out well before a race.

Betcha didn’t even notice our new box truck wasn’t at the race Saturday.  That’s because it wouldn’t start at 5 am.  It’s all in the details.


#Silver Circle Boost

Ever been to a race and struggled?  Ever been to a race where some random dude ran up the hill to help you through your struggles or someone from an aid station gave you a pep talk or some kid with a sign made you smile and get through the last miles.  I bet you remember every single one.

Well that is what our #TeamSCSE is up to.  At the Vets Day run, the Silver Circle BOOST team is going to be on the last hill.  Our announcer will be calling out your name, music will be pumping and the team will be encouraging you up the hill.  You might even see a couple yahoos running up the hill with you (Speedos optional).  Make sure you have your hill crushing smiles on because Focal Flame will be capturing them.

This is a work in progress and here is how you can help.  Encourage your friends and family to come out and cheer everyone on.  Instead of hanging out at the finish line, have them come to the hill.  When you’re finished running, come back to the hill and join them.  Help runners experience what you just experienced.

I bet you will remember making a difference, and don’t worry, there will be plenty of hot chocolate and we won’t start the awards without you.  Seriously, Speedos are optional. 

2017 Random Thoughts

“Volunteers don’t know nothing”

I often hear this and before I got in this crazy business and I use to think it.  However, before anyone ever mutters this phrase, they should volunteer and see what volunteers really know.

“Come on man how hard can it be.  They didn’t even know where the bathrooms were. They didn’t even know……”. Hey turbo, slow down.  Show up at a race and volunteer and it will change your mind.  Do it correctly and I might just change your life.

Ok that is a lofty statement.  It’s not like we are saving the manatees (name the movie) but I can tell you most of our staff, team members and friends have started as volunteers and all of them love doing it. 

Back to why volunteers don’t know anything.  It is because they are volunteers. They are folks who gave up their day to hand out water, pick up garbage, hand you your bib or point you in the right direction on course.  That’s it.  They didn’t permit the event, design the course, create an EAP, order the portos, set up timing or design the shirts.  If you ask the teenage kid where the petroleum jelly station is, she is going to look at you like your nuts.  By they way, why do you use petroleum jelly?  More on that later.

I know that a good portion of runners never read race day instructions so why would we think that volunteers would read the volunteer instructions.   Think of it this way, unless you’re a freak about details you are not going to read about packet pickup if your job is to put petroleum jelly on a stick and give it to runner.  Why would you?  So why would we expect the 14 year old kid who is volunteering at a water station to know anything other than how to hand out water?

One of my pet peeves is someone who complains about something without a solution, so I have a solution.  At all of our races, we have a running ambassador tent.  There will you find a couple staff members or senior volunteers who can point you in the right direction and answer ANY question you have. If they can’t, they know exactly who to contact to get you the right answer.  They also body glide, basic medical kits, Bio Freeze, posters, markers and memory bibs.  Just look for the Running Ambassador sign.

See problem solved!  Next time you see a volunteer at a race, thank them and give them a hi five.  Unless of course you just took a big swab of petroleum jelly, on a stick, from some random stranger handing out petroleum jelly on a stick and then dunking the same stick back into the same jar and doing it all over.  See where I am going with this?

The day that all hell broke loose

What was supposed to be an easy peasy race day turned into one of the more challenging races we have had.

The WTA Sweetest Day is a race we’ve done for years.  It is held at Nashotah park and we have done 10+ races on the same course.

Saturday started great.   The alarm went off at 3:00 am and everyone was at the office by 4:15 and ready to go.  We arrived at the park at 4:30 nice and early. 

Hold on a second, what time did you think we started setting a course or why don’t we set it the night before.  We don’t set courses the night before because equipment grows legs and moves.  It is much easier to set 13 miles of signs at 4:30 than try and find 13 miles of signs at 5:30. Lesson learned the hard way.

By 6:00 timing was set up, barricades and scaffolding were almost done and staff was setting banners.  Our senior course manager was on course and everything was going well.

Then crap started to hit the fan. Don’t get me wrong, it happens all the time but this was just the first in a long line of crap yet to happen.

At 7:30 I got a text from a #TeamSCSE member that the interstate was closed and people were stuck in traffic.  No worries we can deal with that.  I delayed the start by 15 minutes.

At 8:00 we rocked the kids race and started moving people to the start line for an 8:15 start.  I found a kid to start the race and all was good.  Wait did you think we scheduled those kids to guest start our races?

Shazam at 8:15 the race starts and all is good in my world.  Staff has everything under control so now I can sit back, put my feet up and enjoy a cup on Sanka.  Ok none of that is true.

At 8:25 I decided to jump on the UTV to just check out a couple areas of the course.  I was surprised to see the leaders at the top of the hill around 2.5 miles but knew there were a bunch of high school XC runners, so I didn’t think much of it.  I turned the UTV around and lead them to the finish.

As I made the turn to the finish I noticed a couple people sitting on the course at a turn. I yelled at them to move because runners were coming.  It turns out one of them is injured and needed transportation back.  We got her on the UTV right before the runners got to that point.  Ok one injury and fast kids. I can deal with that.

We get to the finish line and our medic takes the injured runner and I jump on the mic.  If you are wondering why I was announcing, it is because our announcer was at his daughter’s XC meet.

As I watched 3 runners approach the finish line I called out the finishers time of 15:20. Ya that is stupid fast for this course but then again, I was jacked on adrenaline from an injured runner and knew there were high school kids running so I missed the obvious.  No one can run that course in that time.

A minute later runners started telling me the course was short.

Ok, now my interest in peaked because there is no way our course is short.  No way!  Our staff has set that course at least 10 times.  I questioned the runners and they kept saying there wasn’t a sign for the split.  I knew there was a sign because I gave it to the crew to set.  I asked if they made it to the aid station and they said no.  Houston, we have a problem.  There is only one area you could get lost and I know for sure that our crew coned it off.

I jumped on the UTV with a staff member (aka my son who is getting the stink eye from his Dad at this point) and drove the course.  We couldn’t find anywhere that a runner could take a wrong turn.  The one trail where runners could get lost was coned off with 3 cones.  Exactly as it is supposed to be.  

What on earth is going on?  Did runners actually run through three cones and take the shortcut?  Not possible. We returned to the finish line for what I knew to be a fiasco. 

Upon arriving we ran into a woman who told us she was a spectator on the course and notice that some of the cones were moved so she moved them back to the correct location.  How crazy is it that a spectator knew that cones were in the wrong location and fixed it?

So how do cones grow legs and move?  We think it was the “nice” gentleman who was walking his dogs and gave our crew grief for a race being held at the park.

And so we have solved the mystery.  All is good.  Hold on turbo, this is only the beginning.

What do we do with runners that ran short and how do we know who they are and how do we score it?  This is not our first rodeo with runners running the wrong course.   I had a quick powwow with our two timers and course manager (who ran the course) and we decided to collect bib numbers for runners who ran short, create a 4K and 8K and then score those races separately.

While that is not technically difficult, it takes a good amount of time.  It is not as simple as just changing a column in excel.  We also need to account for runners that are in the series and how we score the 4K & 8K in the series.

Again all of it is doable but not fast.  The other thing we have learned it to have all of your stuff in one sock before announcing what you are going to do. If you were there Saturday and it seemed to take a long time, that’s because it does take a long time to figure everything out and then make one clear, cohesive announcement.

The timer gets everything done and here we go with 5K age group awards. It’s going as normal and we finish up the 5K and get ready for the 10K.  Just as I start, I look to the west and see a giant black cloud followed by my notes blowing off my table and stuff starts to fly.  Rob has already made his way to the finish line to take down the banner.  Within 30 seconds it went from a being windy to hail and crazy strong winds.  This is a real drop the mic moment.

Staff, volunteers and runners jump into action taking down all the barricades, scaffolding and banners.  As they are doing that I look to our registration staff and they are holding the tent trying to keep it from blowing away.

The good news is no one was hurt and the only equipment loss was our tent. It did blow into the heater and melt.

In the end, all was good.  Well except WTA series age group awards are going to be a pain in the rump to do.  

If you have not listened to anything I have said, you should listen now.

Have you ever heard that at a SCSE race?  You should because I say it all the time.  To tell you the truth, I know some folks still are not listening, haven’t looked at the course map, didn’t read the race day instructions, passed the Running Ambassador (has maps), hasn’t viewed the race week update info on the website or have Facebook or Twitter. 

I rambled on about this because stuff changes ALL the time.  Like Sunday…..

Last week I received a call from a RD telling me they were holding a run on the Red Tutu Trot course at 10:00 am.  Hmm, that is a problem because we are holding the Red Tutu Trot at 8:00 am on the same day.  Not a huge deal until I looked at their map.  Their course was similar but not exact.  Not a huge deal since we mark our course with blue arrows on 12 X 12 white signs.  She tells me they use blue arrows on 12 X 12 white signs.  Houston, we have a problem. 

Ok it wasn’t that huge of a problem because they have their name on the signs and they look different enough.  Now comes the funny part.

I made an announcement telling and showing everyone which signs they should follow and only follow the blue signs without any names on.  Two minutes before the start I went to the start line, pushed Bucky Badger aside, and pulled out what looked like the fastest runners.  I showed them the sign and told them to only turn at signs that looked like this.  I knew if the fastest runners were on course, others would follow.

From the finish line I could see mile 1.75.  The runners who I had pulled aside were in fact the fastest two and on course.  Ah everything is going perfect.

The finish line was a long stretch, so I could also see mile 2.75.  Around 16:00 minutes I started getting worried because these guys were fast, and they were nowhere to be found.  Finally, I see two guys approaching the finish line, but it wasn’t the two that were in front at 1.75.  I quickly went to congratulate them and then ask when they passed the two other guys.  They said they didn’t and in fact the two fast guys were way in front of them.

This is one of those OH @#$% moments because you know the leaders got lost.  The two course managers were standing next to me and I gave them the RD stink eye.  I knew they set the course correctly because they had done it before and are experienced.

So what on earth happened?  The Red Tutu Trot has an out and back portion along the lake.  The turn point is marked by a 3 foot by 2 foot sign that says turn here.  It is impossible to miss but they did.

Between the first place runner and now, I had already spoken to the client and we had a plan.  As they crossed the finish line I was ready for two angry runners.  I cautiously approached them and asked them what happened.  To my surprise they were both laughing after having run 4.25 miles instead of a 5K.  I should mention they ran it is 26 minutes. 

I had also spoken to the official winners and we all agreed to leave the official results official.  We comped their entry for next year and they got a gift certificate.  During the awards ceremony we called them up and everyone enjoyed a good laugh.

Oh I guess you want to know what happened?  This is a case where runners listened to my pre race instructions very intently.  So much so that they passed the giant turn here sign because the arrow was red.  Guess some people to listen to the race day instructions.


As I stood on the back of the box truck at 10:15 pm in the rain……

This was our third race in a row where it rained.  Setting up in the rain, managing an event in the rain and cleaning isn’t so great, but the real fun is still to come.  Offloading & drying equipment!

For this race, it took about an hour to offload equipment and three hours to dry it.  Once everything is dried out, it all goes back on trucks or gets racked for the next race.  If we are lucky, the next race is a day away but sometimes it is the next morning. Oh wait, it is already the next morning.

I know there isn’t anything funny or insightful about this Random Thought but know all those folks that help put on races work well before and well after a race.

For this 5K fun run, we had 50 hours of labor just on race day.  Yep lots and lots of stuff happens before a race and lots and lots of stuff happens after a race.

Happy running and can we please get a sunny day?

Why Do You Run?

Sometimes running has a special meaning.  Thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey and thank you for the overly generous comments.  This comes from a participant at the Wish You Were Here 5K.

"It's hard to find the words to describe the events that took place yesterday. What is typically an average, run of the mill 5k turned into an emotional, tear filled amazing experience.

Thank you to Silver Circle Events for the first annual Wish You were here 5k. Running has always been therapeutic for me, but this event had more meaning then anything I have ever done. From the medals to the memory wall, it was so tastefully done. I look forward to keeping this event in my calendar every year moving forward.

Thank you to my friends and family who joined in the run/walk and braved the elements. I think we can agree Christine Boehm Diompy, Christian's of course decided to hold his boot camp at the same time as our run ;) Again, all of you who sent messages and good wishes throughout the day made it easier and more motivating for me to actually go through with it.

Last, but most importantly Thank You to my brother's Jeff Percifield, Matt Thomas and friend Christian Diompy for convincing me and pushing me through this run. I debated for weeks how I was going to approach this. Would I take a nice leisurely 30 minute jog and reflect on their lives while I cry. Or would I push myself beyond my comfort zone and limits and give it everything I had.

I was torn and it wasn't until minutes before the start of the race I received my answer. In my head I heard Matt in his over the top exuberance yelling for no reason (like he did) to go for it. Besides, he was the fastest kid I knew so I believed he would want me to "try and catch him"

Then I had the calming voice of my brother Jeff who put his hand on my shoulder and said "you can do this, I know you can". He was always a calm voice of reason to me (which was a nice balance to Matt).

Finally, if there was any doubt where Christian stood. I looked at his smiling laminated face I was holding and I just heard his infectious laugh. Heard him say "It's not going to be easy. You have the yellow jacket"

Next thing I heard was the start of the run.....Well my previous PR for a 5k was 24:31. Through something I can only explain as an out of body, help from above experience I beat my PR with a time of 22:07! Not only did I almost take 2 1/2 minutes of my PR, but I ended up finishing 7th overall. I never could have done this with out them and all of you. I'm emotionally and physically drained today. The only thing left to do is reflect, recover and rejoice. Thank you for everything."

What you have never volunteered?

I have a confession.  I would much rather volunteer at a race than be a race director, timer, equipment dude or ops manager.  

As the DoLittle was winding down yesterday, I left the timing trailer to go on course.  Before you say “Sean what is the RD doing on the course during a race?”, don’t fret.  We had two other race directors, two timers, medical staff and ops staff all there.   

Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things a runner can do.  You know that feeling you get when you finish your first big event?    That is the feeling you get when volunteering.  Everyone who comes to your aid station or where you’re a course marshal will thank you and be appreciative.  

Yesterday we launched our course sweeper program. A sweeper is someone who runs / walks at the back of the race and makes sure everyone gets in.  Our first sweeper was Steve Schwan from #TeamSCSE.  

This is what Steve has to say about his day.

“Today I volunteered at the Dolittle Marathon as the "Sweeper"... aiming to accompany the last runner to the finish to insure that no one was left behind needing support. I started a little after the official start and crossed the finish with the last runner with over 5 minutes to spare before the 1:00 cut off. I got to know 5 runners fairly well, 3 of them really well, and met a dozen new friends in the process. I truly had an awesome day.

I bet if you ask Steve, he will say it was one of his best “races” ever.


The Death of the Goody Bag?

Here we change again.  We are done with goody bags.

Say what?   Your doing away with goody bags?  Nope we did away with goody bags almost 18 months ago.  I know it is hard to fathom but we stopped doing goody bags almost 200 races ago and have received a grand total of ZERO feedback.

So how did this earth-shattering event happen? 

Let’s start with how goody bags happen.  We collect “stuff” from vendors, partners, or stuff we buy and a few days before an event, stuff it in plastic bags. It takes hours and hours and hours.  Then it gets boxed up and shipped off to packet pickup where you get it with your shirt and bib.

Once packet pickup up is over, it gets shipped back to the office to load on trucks for race day pickup.  Then it gets distributed at race day packet pickup.  Here is the kicker, it then gets sent back to the office because most of them ended up in the trash.  Now how does any of that make sense economically or environmentally?

Many moons ago, the goody bag had value.  Active.com had agreements with vendors to provide samples of stuff – useful stuff.  Merchants & sponsors would also provide useful stuff.  That all ended about 5 years ago.  Instead, we would get pens, menus, or advertising without value to the runner.

Don’t get me wrong.  We still get really great stuff like the free bloody marys from Sobies but we distribute that in a different format than printing 1000 flyers and stuffing them in plastic bags that end up in the landfill.

So one day, we just stopped doing goody bags, crossed our fingers and hoped the preverbal you know what would not hit the fan.  It didn’t.  So we did it the next race, then the next, then the next for all of 2017 and 2018.  Not one complaint.  Zero! Nada!  After 200 races I am officially calling the goody bag dead. 

I know what you are thinking.  Hey RD, I really liked all those pens, menus, plastic wrist bands.  No worries, we have a warehouse full of them.  Come over and take as many as you want.

Ok seriously.  There is some value to goody bags.  Occasionally, the goody bag would save your race.   Maybe you forgot your energy gel or Body Glide or Bio Freeze and there was a sample packet in the goody bag. 

Don’t fret.  At our new and improved Running Ambassador station has Body Glide and Bio Freeze for you.   We always put gel packs at aid stations on longer runs and if you are jonesing for that little piece of candy from your goody bag, we also have that covered.  At our longer runs you can visit the FREE fresh fruit bar where there is fruit, candy and pickles.

While the goody bag is dead at 99.9% of Silver Circle Sports Events, we have you covered, and you don’t have to find a garbage can to throw away a plastic bag full of junk.


Dude, what’s the deal with your aim?

Yesterday I volunteered at an aid station.  I was with a non runner who asked me, why do runners throw cups on the ground?  I started to respond with my vast knowledge of useless runner info and realized I have no idea.

Ok, I actually do know but it way more fun to let you think about.

Here’s what happened.  Runners would take a cup of water, drink it and 50% of them immediately threw it on the ground even though there was a garbage can 20 feet away.  Then I started to watch runners and cups.  There was a garbage can immediate across from me and I watched runner after runner throw the cup on the ground at the base of the garbage can.  Just so we are clear, I am not passing judgement here just a random observation.

Insert the answer – runners tend to be hyped up on adrenaline and focused on their game plan.  Yep I know that is the answer but the “shots made” percentage is the same from the 140.6 mile point line as the 5K point line.  Bet you didn’t expect a basketball analogy.

So runners, what is the deal with not throwing cups in the garbage? 

Before you answer that, lets chat about how aid stations work.  Who do you think picks up all those cups during the run?  What do you think those cup pickeruppers do after they pick up cups?  Yes we provide gloves, instructions and hand sanitizer but you know….

I don’t mind picking up cups, filling cups or volunteering but it sure would be easier, and way more sanitary if folks would throw cups in the garbage.

This isn’t like solving world hunger or saving the whales but why don’t we make aid stations just a little more sanitary by throwing cups in the garbage?


Will you cancel the event?

You have no idea how many times I heard that last week.  Why?  Because once again, the weather folk told us we better build an ark because it was going to storm all day and then there would be a locust attack.  Ok only part of that is true but none of it actually happened.

That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a plan in place for bad weather.  Did you really think we would just wing it and let you run through a locust attack?

Here is what happens behind the scene. 

We rented the community center in case it stormed.   

We extended our permit start time to 9 am in case we had to delay the race.  Why 9? Because the officers had to leave to get to another event.

The finish line structure had to change because who wants to stand under a 20’ steel structure in a storm.  Bet you didn’t think about that?

We switched from a wireless timing system to a wired system.  Not a big deal, just a little more labor on race day.

We created an alternative route to shorten the course to 8 miles in case the weather turned bad.   Unfortunately, you don’t know what the weather is going to be until race day.

Here are a couple things to ponder about shortening a course:

What would be the cutoff time on course?
What about the people that made it before the cut off time?
How would we know if they ran 13.1 or 8 miles?
How do you time it?
What if the storm speeds up and the cutoff time changes?
How will the slower runners affect the lead runners now that they are in front of them?
How do you communicate the weather change to everyone.  As a side note, this is why it is so important to provide accurate contact info when volunteering.  It is really hard for us to call you and let you know Noah is on his way with the Ark if you give us a fake phone number. 

All of those questions must have definitive answers well before the event and have flexible answers the morning of the race.

Thanks to Bill Schneider (our announcer and fellow RD) we got the slide rule out, booted our commodore 64, plugged in the cassette recorder, called the weather hot line on Bill’s bag phone and we computed the cutoff time.  How all of that is done is top secret stuff.

Fortunately, the weather folk were wrong, and it never stormed. 

Now you know


Why do you run?

I had written a different random thought but after putting together the weekly email, I couldn’t get past this one.   There are all kinds of reasons to run.  Some run to be competitive. Some run to stay in shape or some people like #TeamSCSE member Judy Mulkey runs to concur her goal this year of running 50 events by the time she is 50.

However, there are other reasons to run and that is to raise money for charities.  We have been kinda sorta involved with Zacharias Acres for some time.  It started why my Father in Law was in hospice at a facility next to Zacharies Acres.  I wandered onto the land (don’t tell Terry) to take a break.  We had just got into the trail running business and I thought this would be a great place to hold a run.  Well we never did and Terry and I didn’t talk for some time.

He gave me a call this spring and said lets do a half here.  I immediately agreed.

Look, I can do a half trail run just about anywhere but this place is truly special.  The fall colors are going to be amazing, the prairie grass is going to be 8” tall and the pine forest paths are truly magical.  It is one of my favorite areas.

Ok by now you should be saying, Sean you’re just selling the event and that is 100% true but here is the real reason you should participate in the run.

From Zachariah's Acres newsletter 
The Best Day Ever!

This Summer our guests enjoyed a new event, the Fishing Jamboree & Fish Fry! Combined with bonfire, s'mores, hay wagon rides, and fishing it was a Summer evening full of memory making. 

While fishing and later taking a gator ride, Jimmy (pictured right) expressed repeatedly "This is the best day ever, just the best!". Thank you to the countless donors whose support allow our guests to enjoy their "Best Day Ever."

Some of these kids will be participating in the one-mile walk and roll.  They are going to finish down the same finish chute that many of you have experience hundreds of times, but they never have.  Imagine what it will be like for these kids to experience the finish line chute and a finisher medal.  They will get their picture taken in front of the banner like many of age groupers have. 

That’s why you should register, run, donate and volunteer at this event.

Why do you run?


Not So Random Thought

Sorry but no snarky comments about what happens behind the scenes.  Rather, a giant thank you to #TeamSCSE.

Nine months ago we decided to change our team and asked Rachel Schroeder to take over the management of it.   The Silver Circle Sports Events Running Team (ya try saying that twice fast) was a loosely managed group of runners.

In January we kicked off the new #TeamSCSE during an ice storm.  To our amazement, fifty people showed up.  We thought it might be the free beer and pizza but it wasn’t.  The team rapidly grew to 50, then 75, then 100 and now is over 110 members strong.

The #TeamSCSE is comprised of all kinds of folks.  Some are super duper fast and some are super duper slow.  Some are as young as 3 and some are, well a lot older.  Some have done 100+ mile runs and some are working up to their first 5K.  What they all have in common is the desire to be part of a supportive group that likes to have fun and run.

Yesterday, we had our #TeamSCSE summer party at Casa de Osbornskiwitzberg and 70 people showed up.  Maybe it was the free “beer” and brats.  As a side note, our team make fun of me because I like Bud Light and that is why you will see Bud Light at events.  Guess there was a behind he scenes tidbit of info in this one.

Back to the party.  At one point, I was on the boat thinking these people have such a different back ground but are all here having fun.   We had a barista, TSA manager, computer dude, scientist, EMT, recruiter, Mom, DB manager and some dork who calls himself RD.

Not everyone can be an elite athlete, but anyone can be a member of #TeamSCSE.  If your interested in joining #TeamSCSE, let us know.  The only requirement is that you like to have fun.

Thank you


Rules are rules

When I was a young, racing a lot, and knew everything, I frequently would say that is a stupid rule.  Now that I know I don’t know everything and the guy who is making the rules, I know that rules are rules for a reason.

Let’s start by saying that race directors don’t create rules just to make rules.  They are done for safety, security or because our permit requires it.

Some examples from our tri this weekend.

Transition stays closed until the last runner leaves it.   Imagine 100 athletes standing around in transition chatting about the race while you are trying to get in and out of transition.  It is a safety issue and courtesy issue. 

You can’t get into transition unless you have a bib and body marking.  You also can’t get out of transition with a bike if you don’t have a bib that matches the bike. There is over $1,500,000 of bikes sitting there and you certainly wouldn’t want to come back to transition and your bike has mistakenly gone for a ride. 

The sprint swim started 20 minutes after the Olympic.  Yep just like the race day instructions said.  This is done to help clear the course and get some of the safety crew back.

You should have the finish line in the road and not in the park.  This one is a permitting issue. Our permit only allows the road to be closed for so long.  There isn’t enough time to set up and take down a finish line in the permitted time frame.

It’s @#$%^&* that my friend can’t be in transition or the finish line with me.  Sorry you feel that way but adding 500 “friends” to an already hectic transition or finish line would be insane.

We are always open to suggestions and frequently make changes based on athlete input.  Have a suggestion or idea, just let us know.

The 2019 Lake Country Tri will be August 10, 2019.  We are already working on permits and will open registration in a few months.

Why don’t you……

This weekend I volunteered at a race. Yep I still volunteer and love doing it. 

The race was delayed because they couldn’t get people into the park fast enough.  I worked parking with both the race staff and park staff.  I had a staff radio and was able to talk to athletes as they entered the park.  That will mean something later in this story.

It was a unique experience because usually I am the Race Director trying to do everything to get athletes into the park. See, we never want to start a race late. We don’t want athletes frustrated before they get there. We don’t want athletes to get to the race after the start.  Delays cause problems for everyone and trust me the race director wants nothing to do with starting late.

So right about now you are probably asking:

If you know there are going to be a ton of people, why don’t you plan for it?
Why don’t you just add more staff to the entrance?
Why do we have to get that stupid ticket if the entrance is paid for?
Why are you so darn unprepared?
Why didn’t I listen to Sean the 100,000 times he said to arrive early?

All very legitimate questions.  The last one being the most important.  See you can either wait in your car at the race or you can wait in your car in line at the race.  Heck, you could show up really early and volunteer and not wait at all!

We do a ton of work with the DNR and the surrounding county parks.  All have different policies, and all have different ways of doing things.  Don’t take this the wrong way because they are all great to work with but they have a way of doing things and it is their way.  I have yet to encounter a park that will allow our staff to assist at the entrance. I am sure there is a reason for it just like there is a reason we tell you to arrive early and wear your bib on the front of your body.  If you are reading this, then you likely know that already. If not, arrive early and wear your bib on the front of your body.

Back to the race this weekend.  The park staff was super great to work with. They were very calm, cool and collected even when the stress level got ramped up.  I also had the unique experience of hearing the race staff communicate with the park staff asking if there was anything they could do to help.

The race organizer was very professional and worked with park staff to delay the start so everyone could get in the park.

So….this weekend is the WTA national Watermelon Day Run.  It is one of our larger trail runs and the entrance is short and only has one lane.   It is a traffic problem waiting to happen and it will happen Saturday.  We won’t have any staff at the entrance.  They will likely have 2 people taking tickets and there will be a very long line.  You will be frustrated and saying very naughty things about the RD.

Unless of course you pick up your packet the day before, have $8.00 in cash in your hand at the entrance AND ARRIVE EARLY. One more thing, wear you bib on the front of your body.

Now you know.


Sorry, no witty comments today.  Rather a list of items we are thankful for.

Thank you for participating in our events. Thank you for participating in a first year event. Thank you for supporting local races and the running industry. Thank you for supporting our clients, our charity partners, and the businesses in the communities we hold our events in. Thank you to our clients. 

Thank you for volunteering. For reading the race day instructions. For wearing your bib on the front of your body. For making sure your water cup and GU pack make it into the garbage can and not the nice neighbor’s front lawn. And thank you for being nice to the guy who looks totally stressed out at the end of a long race day.

Thank you for the complementary emails after a race or telling us how we can improve. Thank you for helping another runner get up the hill, sharing your insight to a new runner, or going back onto the course and cheering on slower runners. Thank you for giving the volunteers and police officers a high five when you pass them, sticking around at the finish line and cheering on the 3 hour half marathoner, or giving your medal to the kid who ran his first 5K.

Thank you for the support and thank you for being you. 

Results, Medals and Errors

With the start of the Wisconsin Trail Assail and the “bad” weather we had, I thought it would be a good time to remind folks how to get the most accurate time possible.

The WTA is a gun start.  That means your time starts when the announcer says go.  If you want to know everything about a gun start vs. a chip start, see “Why do some races start with a gun start and some with a chip start?” or “The great chip vs. gun timing debate” on our Random Thoughts page.

If you decide you want to change distances before the race, just let our registration staff know before the race.  If you decide to change distances during the race, just let our timer know as you finish.  If you decide to DNF, just let our timer know when you cross the finish line.  This happens all the time and really is not a big deal, but we don’t know unless you tell us.

Results are always preliminary for one week.  At race day awards, results are as accurate as they can be assuming we know the above, but we don’t always.  Just today, I made 10 modifications to the results because people changed distances. Again, not a big deal but it affects the age group awards and series points.

Imagine if you won your first age group medal, took a ton of photos and bragged to everyone about it, and you should.  The next day you look at the updated results and you came in second place because a 10K runner switched to the 5K but didn’t tell anyone until after the race.  That can be avoided if we know about distance changes.

Wear you bib on the front of your body.   I have heard every rumor why race directors tell runners to do it. The truth is, we shoot photos and video at the finish line as a backup for timing.  It is much easier for us to search by a bib number than a description of you.

If you are a race day entry, please please please write as clearly as possible. If we cannot read your writing, we put you in the 99-year-old age group as to not affect age group awards.  The sooner you notice this, the sooner we can update results before the ceremony.

Do we make mistakes?  Of course, we do. From day one we said we are going to let people know when we do. Letting us know when you switch distances helps everyone finish the day with a smile on their face and a free runner’s high.  It also lowers our timers blood pressure.

Thanks for running with Silver Circle Sports Events and I hope to see you at a start line soon.


Trail Running Myths

Myth #1 Only ultra-runners participate

Not a chance.  While many ultra-runners are trail runners, trail runners come in all shapes, sizes and distances.

Myth #2 It’s dangerous

Hogwash as Grandma says.  The injury rate at trail runs is no higher or lower than any other event. 

Myth #3 The trails are difficult to run on

While some of the trails are technical (Pike Lake, Lapham) most are groomed with wood chips making them easy on the body.

Myth #4 It’s like cross county

Not true.  Our courses are designed to make use of the natural beauty of the parks.  That means, you will likely pass a lake, run through the forest and maybe see lions, tigers, bears and an occasional squatch.

Myth #5 There are hills

100% true.  In fact, we design the course so there will be hills.  How else are you going to talk to your future significant other unless you catch her on a hill.

Myth #6 The trails are super crowded

Nope.  The start is less crowded because it is so wide. The initial portion of the trail might be crowded but if you stage yourself at the start line appropriately it won’t be.

Myth #7 Trail courses are not supported               

Not true.  All the courses are fully supported with aid stations, medical and restrooms.  We even have a fresh fruit bar at the end.

Myth #8 I need trail shoes

Nope. Any good quality shoe will work.

Myth #9 I will get lost

It is very hard to get lost.  We have signs at every turn.

Myth #10I will hate trail.  

Not likely.  Since the beginning of the Wisconsin Trail Assail Series, we have offered a money back guarantee.  If you don’t like the event, we will refund your money. 

Dads Never Ask This Question


Hmmm.  I never thought I would be blabbing on about strollers.  I have been involved with the race industry for 30 years.  Twenty years as an Average Joe “athlete” and 10 as director of Dolittle Enterprises.  Ten years ago, the number of stroller inquiries was minimal. 

Now, we get questions almost every day about using strollers at races. 

What is our stroller policy?  Your pushing our future clients. Why wouldn’t we let you push little Johnny for free? 

A couple things to consider when using a stroller.

  • Always keep to the right.
  • Use a single wide stroller.
  • If Johnny gets out of the stroller, he is now a runner and needs to register.
  • Check with the race director before just showing up.  Not everyone knows that the Wisconsin Trail Assail Series is on a trail and its pretty dang hard to push little Jane in a stroller.
  • Not all RD’s want little ones at events.  Obviously, we do because we allow strollers at all our events and let the little ones run for free.

As a side note, Dad’s never email about strollers and no one asks about ipods anymore.

Happy Running

Hey dope, you made a mistake.

This is kinda funny, sorta frustrating and potentially a gigantic mess.  I haven’t counted how many events we’ve done since 2010, but suffice to say it’s been a few.  Three weeks ago we released a marketing piece with the wrong park on it.  I knew it a few days later, but wanted to see if anyone caught it.  No one did.

Errors happen way more than you think.  The reason is we have thousands of graphics, dates, medals, tshirts, websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and kittydogtwitpile. They all need to be updated all the time, numerous times, and every time something changes.  Compound that with our vendors who also have their fingers in the pie.  We are extremely fortunate that our graphic artist (The Great Krista Struely), tshirt vendor (Mr. Bill Hoag with City Screen Print & Embroidery) and our medal vendor (Mrs. Wendi Weekly with Hasty Awards) have been with us for 5 years.  It is extremely rare that we miss a date or in this case a park, but it happens. 

So what?  Here is what.  All that “stuff” must be designed, ordered and manufactured way in advance. For example, our medals come from China and there is a 4-month lead time.  Make a mistake on a medal and you have a major PR issue.  As an aside, we have custom SCSE medals that we keep on hand just in case this happens.

When I was an age grouper trying to beat the Average Joe, I assumed all the work happens on race day. The honest answer is, race day is only simple if the millions of details are completed prior to race day.  

Do us a favor.  The next time you see a volunteer, staff member, cop, medical personnel, announcer, food and beverage person, registration volunteer, please thank them.  It’s all their hard work that happens way before race day that gives me the ability to say GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Confession time:

  • Once we printed shirts with the wrong date.
  • A UPS truck broke down and our medals were on it. They couldn’t get the truck to us until after the race.
  • We have had ships delayed with medals on them due to a port strike that delayed all incoming ships.
  • Someone left the bibs at the office and we had to delay a race by 30 minutes.
  • At our first half marathon we set the course at midnight. When we can back at 3 am someone had moved all our mile marker signs and threw our cones in the field.

Crazy stuff happens. Our goal is for you to never see it.  If you ever want to experience what happens before an event let us know. We are always looking for weekend warriors, volunteers and staff..

When Ice Hits The Fan

One would think ice is a simple issue to deal with. We live in the Midwest and all ya gotta do is put a little salt on it and it goes away. 

No so fast turbo. That is not how it works.

At the Flannel 5K last weekend we ran into this very issue – pun intended.  The night before we drove the course and it was clear.  There were a few areas that had water on them and we knew we would have to salt in the morning.  Easy peasy ice is easy.

When we got to the course, those few areas had grown to a few dozen areas. 

Here are a couple things to consider when it comes to ice:

  1. It takes a couple hours for salt to work
  2. Salting in the dark isn’t exactly exact
  3. Cities don’t salt just because you think they should
  4. Salt works on ice but not when it’s an inch deep and covers the whole parking lot

    Unlike a pothole, you can’t run around it if it covers the entire road

With that in mind, we set out to salt like crazy to create a safe course.  Since it takes time for the salt to work it is a wait and see task.  We knew immediately that .25 miles of the course was unsafe, so we changed the course.  After salting and waiting, another portion was still too dangerous, so we had to shorten the course again.

Again, so what?  All you had to do was move a couple cones. 

Ponder a couple things that happen when a course changes:

  1. Changing a course takes staff away from tasks they were previously assigned to
  2. The distance changes which means the timer has to change a few things
  3. Course maps for staff, runners and volunteers are no longer accurate
  4. Volunteers must be reassigned and given updated instructions
  5. Staff have to be briefed with the changes, so they can inform participants
  6. The announcer must be given the updates
  7. Park staff have to be briefed
  8. Mile markers have to be moved or removed
  9. Aid stations may have to be adjusted
  10. The RD has to respond to lots of emails asking why the course was short

All of this happens behind the scenes with the expectation that the run happens as planned, on time and as safe as possible.  Ok, we started 4 minutes late but that was because there was a line for the portos.

Now you know.


You can’t always get what you want.

But if you register correctly you get what you need. 

Now that we have turned on the referral button, bib exchange button, deferral button, distance change button and the shirt size changerouter button it is more important than ever to register yourself.  Aint sayin ya gotta but ya gotta if you want to take advantage of the aforementioned.

We all hate the online registration process.  Run Sign Up has made is about as easy as it can be and we try to ask as few questions as possible.  RSU and SCSE allow for you to register yourself and others but you shouldn’t.  Here is why:

  1. Races are tied to your account. If someone else registers you, it may or may not get tied to your account.
  2. If someone registers you and uses their email (happens all the time) then we can’t send you race updates like the time has changed or a tree has fallen on the course or the Hanrahans are moving to Oconomowoc.  Two of the three have actually happened.
  3. If the race does not get tied to your account, you can’t use any of the magical buttons.
  4. If you don’t register yourself, you will not be able to refer anyone to the event and won’t get any refunds.  Really its true. Refer three people and get $10 refunded.  More info.
  5. We won’t have any way of tracking the number of event you have done with us and thus it will be difficult to make it to the century club.  Ah we haven’t told you about that one yet.
  6. Since we are moving to an online series scoring system, you will not get points for that race.

Parents please do us an enormous favor, when you are registering your child for the FREE 1K run, please do not use your information.  If there are two Jane Smiths registered, we do not know which one is you and which one is your child.  Please, please, please register your child with their name and age so we can put them in the correct division.

Then again, if you don’t want to, don’t.

Happy Running


What’s a Pop Up Run?

I have been working on this for about a year now.  It is hard to believe, with over 100 events in 2018 there are weekends that we don’t have a race. What is a race director to do?  A pop up run!

A pop up run is a run that is planned with a very short lead time.  Our first one was planned and permitted in one day – it helps to have a great relationship with municipalities. 

The event is super simple.  Since we are also timers, we will chip time the event but no shirts, medals, fancy finish lines, aid stations, portos, PA systems, stages, fresh fruit bars or hot chocolate.  Just a run course with chip timing.

Our first one is January 20th. We have priced it at $10 to cover expenses and encourage you to come out and run in the winter.

If the first race goes well, expect to see other pop up runs throughout the year. 


Switching Distances?  It a big deal (sorta).

It’s a big deal.  Like, for real it’s a big deal.  Alright it isn’t like birth, death or taxes but it affects more people than just you.

Hey RD dork, what are you talking about?

At our events, we let people change their distance anytime they want.  Even during the race.  However, with that flexibility comes a tiny bit of responsibility on your behalf. That responsibility is to let us know you did it.

Hey, why do you care?

Well the truth is we don’t but just about every other runner cares.  If you change your distance and don’t tell us, the computer just thinks you’re really fast or really slow.  We generally will pick this up and move you but not always.

Hey, so what?

Well, it affects results.  If you drop from a 10K to a 5K and then run a 50 minute 5K, we just think you are a fast 10K runner.  In reality, you were having an off day and had a longer than normal 5K. Hey it happens.

Again, so what?

When we go to print results, you will show up in the 10K and likely in age group awards.  When the dudette with the mic calls your name, you just ignore it because you don’t want to admit in front of 500 people that you really didn’t run the 10K and messed up the results for everyone in your age group and potentially for the entire 10K.

Ok, I get it. I promise I won’t do it again.

Hold on Buckaroo. There are more problems coming down the pipe.  Since you didn’t tell anyone, the person who should have received that medal didn’t.  At some point, someone will figure this out from the online pictures or video and likely make a big deal of it on social media.  Maybe even claim the timer is an idiot, you are a horrible person and the world is going to end.

Ok enough already, I get it.

Oh but there is more.  Since many of our races are part of a series, you just might have caused someone not to get points for the series.  Many of our series and very competitive and one point would make a difference.

Are you done yet?

I guess.   The truth is…. it isn’t really that big of a deal.  Do us a favor and all your fellow runners a favor, just let us know if you switch distances.  Easy peasy, isn't being a race director easy?


Come on dude, get my name correct.

Announcers are like timers.  You don’t notice them until they mess up.  Announcing, like timing, is one of the more difficult things to do at a race and one of the most underappreciated tasks.

As a side note, most announcers are hired for the event.  Not at most of our wingdings.  

A good announcer really doesn’t make a big different in a race.  Don’t believe me?  When was the last time you posted on Facetwitchatgram how great the announcer was at the Gobble Wobble run on Thanksgiving Day in Milwaukee or Oconomowoc?  However, when was the last time you were at a high school football game and you said, man that announcer is awful? 

Announcing is a very, very, very difficult task. 

First, you need the gumption to stand in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and run your gums.  Not hard?  Remember the first speech you gave in high school speech 101?  Some of you just got a chill down your spin. 

Second, you need the personality and ability to speak.  Not hard?  Remember middle school speech where all the kids read off an index card in a monotone voice without every looking up? 

Third, you need confidence, ability to think of your feet and authority?  Yes authority!  If you don’t, your audience will eat you alive.  Don’t believe me?  Ever been to an event where the speaker gets flustered by the audience?  It goes south very quickly.  There is a reason why we only have one rule during awards and if you have ever been to our events you know what it is.

Fourth, it’s way more work than you think.  There are prerace announcements, special announcements and awards.  There are announcements for people who lost their keys, lost their kid or forgot to fill out the race day registration form completely and the timer is freaking out because she doesn’t know what gender category to put you in and there is a 50/50 chance she puts you in the wrong one and doing so will mess us the age group awards and you will yell at the announcer that he got the awards wrong because it is the announcers fault that the timer had to guess your gender because you didn’t fill out the registration form completely and now you are reading this amazingly long run-on sentence.

Finally, age group awards. This is the most difficult thing to announce.  A race with 5K, 10K & ½ marathon will have 270 age group awards.  Imagine standing in front of hundreds of people, holding a long list of names that you have never read before and having to announce them one by one.  If you go to fast, the medals handerouter and the photo dudette get backed up.  Go to slow and you’ll be standing there until the cows come home.

Don’t believe me?  The next time you are at a SCSE race, asked the announcer if you can do age group awards.  Look for the guy with the microphone in his face.  That will be me.

Have a question or want to know why something happens the way it does?  Shoot us an email and we will do our best to write about it.


How to design a course?

  1. Map it out.
  2. Get a permit.
  3. Hold the event.

Simple! If you go to the USATF website, you can find all kinds of certified courses.  Just take one of those and you are set.  We have NEVER done that.

Every course that we have designed, we have designed.  There are a ton of considerations that going into designing a course.  The following is a short list of them:

  • Athlete safety
  • Ability to get equipment on the course
  • Spectator access
  • Condition of the course
  • EMT access to a course
  • The cool factor of the course
  • What the police, sheriff, municipality, emergency action department, fire department, DPW, home owners, county, state, DNR, park & rec, common council, feds, CIA, FBI, IRS, DNC, RNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the kid selling lemonade all have to say,  AND they all have a lot to say.  Seriously, everyone has their finger in this peach pie.

For example, we have been working on a new tri for the past three years.  The course is limited by state highways and busy roads so the course needs to fit it in a very narrow box.   It is further narrowed by the lack of roads.  Most tris are located outside of populated areas because there are not a lot of large cities where there is a lake, beach, parking lots and roads without a ton of traffic in metropolitan areas.

Last week, we drove the 16 mile course (four times) looking for:

  1. Road condition
  2. Safety of athletes
  3. Cool factor

It failed because the road was in awful condition and a couple crossings we could not make safe.  UG all that work down the drain.

As a side note, people look at you very strangely when you drive by their house four times with GoPros on the front of your truck and course maps in your hands.  Just as the cops.

Today, we are driving the same course with a number of modifications.  If those do not work, we will likely not hold the event in this awesome location because it is not safe.  Three years of work down the drain.

Now you know.


Why can’t I just get my age group medal and leave?

Sportsmanship and it’s all about me.

I know there are super duper athletes that run our events and frequently win their age group or the race.  Folks like Jeff Crosby, Marie Goerke, Paul Horanoff, Rob Winter and David Kugler just to mention a few.  Yep those folks are also on our race team.

But the vast majority of folks are average runners just trying to beat Emmett to the finish line.   That’s me.  I have never won a race, never won my age group and never heard my name called during an awards ceremony.  In fact, I have finish second in my age group three times and each of those times the race didn’t have medals.  Well one did but I had to leave and the race director wouldn’t return my calls or emails for me to pick it up.

At lots of races you can go to a kiosk and get your finish time, age group position and get your medal.  We think that is great and we do it at some of our races with lots and lots of divisions (DoLittle).     The truth is, doing an awards ceremony takes a lot of time and is way more difficult than you think.  There is a reason why no one wants to be the announcer.  Don’t believe me, I invite you to be the announcer at the next event.  Maybe I’ll write about announcing next time. 

Ok back to me.  The reason we do an awards ceremony is for all of the folks who rarely hear their name called at a race.  If you win all the time, you are likely use to it but for those runners, like me, we never hear our name called and it is a big deal to us.  Listen the next time there is a roar from the crowd. It is likely coming from a first-time award winner’s friends.

Now, one last thing.  Sportsmanship.  Remember how great it was to hear your name, have Jeff give you a medal and Rachel take your picture the very first time?  Remember how everyone clapped and cheered for you even though they didn’t know who you were?  Remember that great feeling?  That is sportsmanship.  Most people never get to experience that. 

We know there are lots of things to do and places to go but consider sticking around after you run a race and cheer for those age groupers.  Someday it might just be you on the receiving end of all that applause.

One more last thing. All of the people mentioned above were once “just” runners at our events.  All of them stuck around and cheered for age groupers and all of them helped at events.  Those are special people and I am proud that all of them are now part of our Silver Circle Sports Events team.  Interested in becoming part of our team?  Email me at racedirector@silvercirclesportsevents.com.  Perpetually offended and crabby people need not apply.

A special thank you to our veterans, police officers and firefighters who never hear their name called and nor given a medal for the amazing work they do. 

I told you this was all about me.


Are you done yet?

It’s funny how often a non-runner says “your season must be winding down soon.”  Inside my head I make the smart alec comment, ya runners just stop running when it gets a little chilly out and sit on the couch eating potato chips, sucking down brewskis and binging Chariots of Fire.

The reality is, we are just as busy in the winter as the summer.  Yes we have the 7 race Chilly Willy Winter Run Series, and the Yule Twinkle All The Way 5K, and the Timothy Gahagan Frostbite Scramble and the Average Joe Winter 5K and the…well you get the point.  What really keeps us busy is the 150+ permits we need every year.  Really that many!

Did you think you we just show up and hold a run?  No such luck buckaroo.  There is a process in place for that and it can be amazingly simple like with the DNR, Waukesha County Parks, Vulcan, Milwaukee County Parks, Tamar, Oconomowoc, Mars, Romulus or it can be amazing difficult like with the __________________.  You didn’t really think I was going to call out those municipalities that go out of their way to make it difficult? Did you? Well Shermer, IL and Bedrock are two that come to mind.  There is a joke there in case you missed it.

Dude what is the point of this article?  Nothing really. Just some random thoughts I had while sitting on the couch while Team SCSE and a couple thousand other runners are at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon.  The page is called Random Thoughts after all.

One last thought, today was Timothy Gahagan’s birthday.  Tim passed a few years ago and in his honor, we hold the Timothy Gahagan Memorial Frostbite Scramble.  All the money raised is donated to the men and women of our local fire department and police department.  Those are the folks I call heros.


How do you know how much water, sports drink, energy gel and food to have at an aid station?

Great question.  Let’s use the DoLittle as an example.  Since we had a 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half, 20 mile and full marathon…..it complicates things a little.  Plus, we had three different start times.  In many races, there is access to the course from a variety of roads.  At the DoLittle, there is only one path and we try not to have vehicles on it since vehicles and runners to not mix well.

The solution is to have three support vehicles moving 13 five gallon water dispensers, 9 five gallon sports drink dispensers, 12 back up 5 gallon water jugs, 12 two liter bottles of coke, 300 packets of energy gel, garbage cans, garbage bags and 50 volunteers over a 26.2 mile course without any direct access.  

That is the easy part.  Figuring out how much “stuff” goes to which station and when is complicated part and top secret.  

I should also mention, these three vehicle operators also must monitor aid stations, runner support calls, medical calls and deal with the RD asking for updates every few milliseconds.  Life behind the scenes at an event is certainly entertaining.

As a side note, we are always looking for folks who want to join our crew.

Next time you are at an event, give those guys and gals a warm thank you.  They likely have been up 12 hours ensuring you have a safe event.

A special thank you to all the volunteers at the DoLittle and to the most amazing SCSE staff: Bob Zimmerman, David Kugler, Jeff Crosby, Shane Osborne, Kathleen Osborne, Rob Winter, Len Waznaik, Chris Strom, McKenna Strom, Rachel Schroeder, Nate Hornburg, Marie Goerke & her Mom, Andi K., Mike Muller & Joe Berman + the guest they brought to help out.  


Why do some races start with a gun start and some with a chip start?

A chip start is a decision that a race director makes.  While a chip start is nice, it is also more expensive since the timer needs additional equipment and staff.   Most race directors are not timers and a timer charges for additional equipment.  As a side note, you would not believe how expensive those magic boxes are!

There are a couple race directors that are also timers.  Like us.   Most of the time we will chip start events.  There are a few exceptions. 

  • Fun runs – we usually don’t chip start a fun run because it is a fun run.
  • Client races – if a client asks us to not chip start it then….well you get it.
  • Trail runs – this goes back to cross country running where you have to toe the line if you want to win.
  • Small races -
  • Technical issues – hey it happens.  

If you want an “official” reason, read THIS.

I also wrote a random thought on the whole gun vs. chip debate that you can find here (it is ½ way down the page).

I will leave you with one inside timer secret.  You always have a gun start time.  When you see the timer standing next to the box, they are creating what is called a gun shot.  That gun shot is used for timing if your chip read is missed. We also use it as a backup in the system for trouble shooting.

Now you know why they dude is squatting next to the magic box.

Hey bucko, the course was short.

Well I dip my toe into this one with great trepidation.  There have been many races over the past few years with short or long courses. Ours included!

As you read through the list, remember that race directors may think they are "super-heroes", but they are just Average Joes and Average Janes with a love of racing.  Did you catch the reference to our Winter Average Joe 5K on February 18?

Here are the reasons:

  1. Someone moves a sign or cone before the race.  There is a reason why most race directors (RD) don’t set courses the night before.  Signs and cones grow legs and walk off. We  had someone move all of our signs on a half marathon at 3 in the morning.  We also have someone change the directions on arrows causing bike riders to go off course.
  2. As a side note, there were a few years where locals would throw tacks on the road to cause riders to get flats. It is crazy what some people will do.
  3. The person setting the course has the wrong map.  Hey it happens sometimes. In fact, I ran a very popular half marathon some time ago where this happened.
  4. Volunteers make decisions for RD’s.  We had a race this year where the volunteer coordinator decided he/she was just going to change the course.  My head still hurts over this one.
  5. A tree falls on the course or a power line goes down. Both have happened to us more than once.  Unfortunately, mother nature doesn’t live up to the deal we cut with her. 
  6. A course change is made last minute for safety reasons.  Yep happened to me us this year and the course was long
  7. Your GPS is wrong. There is a specific methodology for measuring a course and I guarantee you, you didn’t run that route.
  8. We shorted you by .05 miles because we didn’t want to make you do an out and back in parking lot just so we could have exactly 3.12 mile on a fun run “5K”.
  9. The RD just doesn’t care. Ok I threw that one is because that is what social media says. The truth is, I have never met a fellow RD that didn’t care about the details of an event.  

One more thing.  Most shorter races are not “certified”.  The process of certifying a course is tedious and expensive and frankly there isn’t a lot of reason to do it.  Once you get to a half or full there is certainly a reason and most are.  Just ask the RD for the certification number or there is a super-secret website where you can see them. 

Well now you know.  Race directors and course managers take great pride in their work and I have never met one that would knowingly have an inaccurate course.


Why do I have to wear my bib on the front of my shirt?

I can’t tell you how many times I hear that. As an athlete, I hate pinning my bib to the front of my shirt.  As a timer, I hate when athletes don’t.
Why you should wear your bib on the front of your shirt.
It really helps the timer. Most timers will use a manual backup system where they type your bib number into a second computer system.  If your bib is on your back, then the timer can’t see it.  We also run backup video and it is much easier to find you if we can see your bib instead of “that 40ish woman with a blue shirt on”.
Why not to wear it on the front of your shirt.
For me it is uncomfortable and I simply do not like it.  In many triathlons, the RD asks for racers to also wear it on the bike.  There is zero chance that I am going to wear a bib on my chest during a tri.  The flapping sound drives me insane.
The solution?
Wear a bib belt.  A bib belt is an elastic belt that holds your bib and allows you to wear your bib around your waist.  During a run, you can move it to your back and then when you cross the finish line turn it to the front.  At a tri, you just have to grab it in T1 and Shazam you are off to a new PR.  There are tons of belts out there starting at $10 all the way up to $50+.  I use a simple belt that holds a couple packs of GU.  You can get them at your local running store.  Tell them we sent you.
Hey do your timer a favor and don’t fold your bib.  You know who you are….

The weather was like totally clear.

As I sit here waiting for a storm to clear pondering hexadecimal formulas, I thought I would pontificate about weather.  Ok, I don’t really pontificate and I forgot how to use hexadecimals years ago.  

We get asked about weather policies all the time so here is the deal.  While there may be a “window” to get a run in, that window may not be big enough for us to set a course, get volunteers out, clear the course and get volunteers back in.  

Some courses take thirty minutes to set and some take days.  While we are cognizant of runner’s safety, we also need to be cognizant of our staff and volunteers carrying giant metal poles around in a thunderstorm - AKA finish line trusses. Ha, I used cognizant twice in one sentence.

All race directors would rather hold an event than cancel one.  Trust me, it takes way more time to cancel an event than to hold it. Besides, most of us got in the business because we love racing.

Don't believe me?  We still need volunteers tonight.

How to save money on registration fees.

If you race frequently, then you know running can be costly.  Here are a few ways to run for cheap or even free.  Well at least at our events.
1. Volunteer
If you really want to run cheap, run for free. All you have to do is volunteer at one of our events and you can run any of our events for free. 
2. Register early
Early registration fees can be as low at 50% off of the race day registration cost.
3. Teams
If you register a large team, ask the race director for a discount. Most will offer you one.
4. Series
Consider running a series from the same race company. You can run our Chilly Willy Winter Series for as little as $145. That is 6 races, including 2 half marathons.  For summer, consider our Wisconsin Trail Assail Series.  Six races, including 4 half marathons for about the same cost.
5. Pledges
Some events will allow you to race for free if you raise money for them.  Our Move Your Mutt is an example.
6. Free runs
Our Last Call run is free is you participate in 8 of our events during the year.
7. Opt out of a shirt
Many races will let you opt out of a shirt to save a couple bucks.  99% of our races allow this.
8. Read our email
Our weekly email “What’s Up At SCSE” usually has a discount code someplace in the email.
9. Look in your race bag
At almost all of our events, we will slip a free race coupon in a race bag or two.
10. Join the crew or SCSE running team
Many of those folks you see working at our events with staff shirts or Silver Circle Sports Events Running Team on are actually volunteers that work at most of our events.  In turn, they are part of our team and run any of our events at no charge.

Top five things to ensure you get an accurate time at a race

  • Wear your bib on the front of your torso.  This is done for two reasons.  One because that is how the hardware works but equally important is most timers run a manually backup system and type your bib number into a computer.  If we can’t see your bib….
  • Fill out the registration form completely and clearly.
  • Leave the timers alone.  It is the most stressful job in racing and many times they are there just timing.  We own our timing equipment but most race companies do not.  If you have a timing question, see the race director.  At our races, see the Chief Athlete Herder.
  • If you switch races, just let the RD know so the timers can update the database.  Otherwise you just might get called out for running a 1.05 half marathon when you did the 10K
  • Never, ever, ever walk between the finish line barrier and the timing truck/tent.  There are lots of timing cables and equipment there and trust me, you don’t want to be the dude that rips out the timing feed.

At the end of the day, no worries mon.  We run backup systems and video to ensure we get everyone.  If you are not on the list, just let us know.  We will find you.  Nice emails get answered first, crabby emails get time added.

Happy nanosecond chasing.

Can I Run with my Dog?

You would not believe how often we get asked this question.  The polite, simple and short answer is nope.  We know that the majority of dogs are well  behaved, won’t bother anyone and are better trained than Lassie.  However, many runners see all dogs as Cujo.

Don’t believe us?  Think of that yapping ankle biter you ran by the other day that jutted out at you causing you to jump off the curb while the owner says “he won’t bite you.”  It is not your dog that is the issue. It is what others think your dog might be.
Want to run with your dog at a race?  Check out HAWS Move Your Mutt.  We are also reviewing courses that may accommodate a dog wave where the course is not an out and back or a trail.
Yes that is one of our dogs.  He has a tennis ball issue.

Where did you get the name DoLittle Marathon?

Hey that is a great question.  We had planned a Boston qualifying marathon some time ago and wanted to have BQ in the title but that is a little lame since only you speed demons know what a BQ is. The rest of us common folk just try and do a little marathon.  Ha get it?

Plus the first Chicago Marathon female winner was named Dorothy Doolittle.

What to do the night before a tri?

One of the things I most frequently get asked is what to do the night before a race. Ok, no one ever asks that but they should.

For me, I panic if I am not 100% ready days before an event.  I’ve been to too many events where someone is asking runners if they have an extra pair of shoes or a bike helmet or extra goggles.  I don’t ever want to be that guy.

Laugh now but it will happen. I ran the LA Marathon one time and was staying with my sister in San Diego.  We got to the hotel and as I was unpacking my stuff, I noticed I left my shoes in San Diego.  We drove all the way back to San Diego and then to LA.  No so funny.

I always pick up my packet the day before.  I drive the bike course or run course. I swim the first 400 meters of the course. No you don’t need to but it you are like me, you just might have control issues.

The second most important thing I do is put everything I need for the race on my bed including my bike. Ok my bike doesn’t go on the bed but it is in my hotel room. Yes people look at you weird bringing your bike into the hotel but you’re a triathlete which by default makes you weird. 

I then go through my entire check list. Don’t have one?  We have posted one on our website under the Lake Country Tri race.  Actually I go through it a few times to double check.  Yes I have control issues. 

If it is a long race, I tape my nutrition to my bike.  I cool my drinks in the refrigerator or get a bucket ice.

Then I pack everything.  The truth is, I have no idea why I pack everything because I will check it all again that night and again in the morning.

Finally, the most important thing for me is to do nothing.  Nothing. Absolutely nothing except sit on the bed and watch TV or read.  I rarely even travel with my family because they want to have fun and I want to do nothing.  Ya I know it is weird but I was once at a hotel the night before the Chicago Marathon and as I was brushing my teeth the door of the cabinet fell off and cut my foot.

Hope that helps. Then again I could be totally wrong.  


What does that dude in the trailer do and why does he always looked freaked out?

That dude is a timer. He always looks freaked out because he is a data freak.  See timing is a very complicated job consisting of tiny little packets of data called sockets.  Timers need to ensure that a socket gets sent from one place to another without interruption.  Much easier said than done.
In the old days, we would just enter data into a database and push a little button when you crossed.  Then we would funnel you into a chute and some smelly volunteer would yell at you to tear off the number on the bottom of your bib.
Today’s timer dudes are way more sophisticated. They not only do they deal with times but there is networking, televisions, cameras, photo data, the cloud, smartphones, wifi transmitters, powered USB & HMDI hubs and all those pesky sockets or packets if you will.
Happy running

Ever run a race and not show up in the results?  Here is why and what to do. 

While we will tell you timing is an exact science, it is not.  There are all kinds of things that affect your chip read.  Here are a few…

  • It is a bad chip. Hey chip happens.  Maybe we will blog about how chips get programmed.  It takes way more time than you think.
  • A gremlin reprogrammed your chip the night before as you slept dreaming of a new PR.
  • You entered your gender incorrectly and are now in the elite women’s division.
  • It was a race day registration and it was difficult to read your name so we guessed.
  • Something went wrong with an antenna and it was rebooted.
  • You are running with your husband's bib on and he has yours on so you show up in the wrong division – happens all the time.
  • Some chucklehead walked around the crowd barriers, cones, gates, security, neon signs and past the snipers only to then trip over our generator cord and causes a surge in the system (yes that happens).  Don’t worry we have battery backups and a backup generator.

No worries.  If you ran across the finish line we will have your time.  It might be in a backup laptop database, on a GoPro, or in photos but we will have it. However, we won't know you didn't get a time unless you tell us.  See we (the timer not the race director) don’t know if you started, dropped out or decided to chase a leprechaun through the woods.  Just let us know. 

At all of our races all you have to do is tell the race director or the timing contact and they will fix it for you.  It is that simple.  See one can't know what they don't know.

Here is a suggestion on what not to do.  Go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the Sunday evening news and say how much the race director and timer suck and that you will never do their race again.  If it is a quality RD and timer, they will likely have a video or photo of you crossing the finish line.  Some RD’s might just post that video or photo on Facebook along with your registration where you signed up as an elite women.

Happy Running

The great chip vs gun timing debate.

Well folks, it really is not a debate since it is crystal clear.  If you are running a race - note the term race - then the only official time recognized by the USATF is the gun start time. Sorry age groupers but that chip time does not count.  Here is an article from www.oklahoma.usatf.org that explains why the gun start is the only official time used. 

Chip Time Awards versus Gun Time Awards
USATF Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position." Further, Rule 245.3 - regarding transponder timing - "the actual time elapsed between an athlete reaching the starting line and finish line can be made known to the athlete, but will not be considered as official time." In short, official time per USATF rule is gun time.

Also, USATF Rule 165.16 covers the use of transponder timing systems (i.e., the chip) and Rule 165.16(h) states that "times for other competitors will be adjusted, based on the official winning time." In other words, "chip" timing cannot be used for official time(s) nor records unless the "chip" time is properly adjusted (i.e., gun time) except for LDR Masters age group records if the record setter wins his/her age group and the timing mats are properly placed before the start line and after the finish line (Rule 265.10).

Unofficial chip times should never be used for age group or any other awards in a road race.  

Unofficial chip times for awards destroys head-to-head competition. The winners are based on a separate time trial and it is not always the first runner to the finish. No one really knows who the winners are until the chip times are posted.  Runners will have to wait until everyone in the age group is finished and has his/her time posted.  It could be anyone in any order of finish in the age group. 
Here is an example; two 50-year-old men are in a 5 km chip timed road race.  The first 50-year-old runner starts with the gun and has an 18:00 official gun time.  The second 50-year-old runner sits on the curb or is in the rest room when the gun goes off.  Five minutes after the gun fires and the field clears he crosses the starting mats and finishes in a gun time of 23:00, but has an unofficial chip time of 17:59.  The18:00 minute runner is the first 50-54 runner to cross the finish.  His competition finishes five minutes later and after waiting for the results to be posted it is determined that the second runner has a faster chip time. The race organizers give the award to the faster chip-timed runner and not the real winner even though Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position.”  
The same two runners are in another race.  They are sprinting head-to-head toward the finish line with the announcer recognizing the competition.   One runner edges the other by a step.  After the results are posted it is determined that the runner finishing second had a faster unofficial chip time.  Again the award goes to the faster chip time and not the real winner.
A runner could be the last to cross the finish line in his/her age group and still be the winner by having the fastest chip time
Chip timing for awards encourages runners to wait around until the start field clears.  By waiting long enough runners could have a clear course from start to finish.   
There are literally hundreds of examples on how this system does not work.  It defeats the whole purpose of competitive racing.

SCSE policy - generally speaking we will chip start an event.  If it is a Wisconsin Trail Assail race, it is always a gun start.
Happy Running

What is the deal with no refund polices in races?

Wow it has been some time since I rambled on about something.  Here is one thing I get asked all the time.  What is the deal with no refund policies at races?

Good question.  The vast majority of races have no refund policies.  I can’t speak for the industry but I can for Silver Circle Sports Events.  It is difficult to describe the amount of effort that goes into promoting a safe, memorable and quality event before race day.   As you bore yourself reading this, think of all those great events you attended and the not so good events.

The amount of work and cost that is incurred behind the scenes is extraordinary.  We frequently get asked “how hard can it be.  It’s a couple of shirts and some water.”  Well that is true but there are a thousand other things to consider if you want to participate in a safe, memorable and quality event.

Remember that race a few years ago where they ran out of water?  Oops.  Here few things to consider……

  • How do you get power to the start line, finish line, registration, food tent and PA system when the race is in the middle of a park?
  • Where do porta potties come from, how many do you need and how to you get them placed on a course?
  • Where do you get 300 cones for a half marathon and where on earth do you store them?
  • How do you get all that stuff to an event?  We have two trucks, three trailers and five atv's.  Besides your front lawn, where do you store it all?
  • The course manager and his crew has to be on site by 4 am.
  • We start permitting 12 months in advance.  For the Lake Country Marathon we had to permit the event is 6 municipalities and 2 counties.  That is a minimum of 8 meetings but most communities require at least two meetings for the permit plus meeting with the police department and the department of public works.
  • At our Wisconsin Trail Assail races, we typically have 3 aid stations with around 25 gallons of water, sports drink and energy supplements at each aid station.  How do you get that to the aid station when it’s in the middle of a park with no vehicle access?  Geez just think of the coordination need for a marathon.
  • Exactly how many cups do you need?  What size and where do you get them?
  • Have you ever dealt with “elite” athletes or better yet their handlers? 
  • What is the course plan when someone moves all your cones, directional signs and mile markers?  It happens – a lot.
  • Tshirts have to be ordered about a week ahead of the race.  How many extra do you need to order for race day registrations?  See our tshirt tab for an explanation on tshirts.
  • Custom medals have to be ordered about 3 months before an event. Yes they all come from China.
  • How many people sign up two weeks ahead, one week ahead or race day and how do you plan and inventory for that?
  • Those are just a couple examples.  Running the event is actually the easiest part.  As a race director, my goal is to first ensure you have a save experience and second exceed your expectations.  If we completed all of those items and a thousand more on the list, we will.  Your job should be show up (on time), run a PR, have a great experience and never notice any of those things on the list. 

The reason why we have a no refund policy is because all of those items / costs are front loaded and based on your attendance. When you cancel, we have already incurred those costs to ensure we exceed your expectations.  That’s it in a nutshell but now you know why.

Still not a good enough answer?  You can always buy insurance from active.com when registering. 

I will let you in on a secret.  If you are really nice to the RD and staff they might move your registration to another event. Want to ensure they do, consider volunteering for the event.  If you volunteer at a Silver Circle Sports Events race, you will get your registration moved to another event.

That’s it.  Got questions or want to volunteer?  Fire off one of those newfangled email thingy’s to racedirector@silvercirclesportsevents.com

Happy Running


Got Bloody Nipples?

If you are an experienced runner you just quivered with painful memories.  If you are new to running I’m sure you are thinking ya as a matter of fact…  What the heck?

Look we have all been there.  It is one of the most painful things to work through on a distance run.  However, it is one of the easier “problems” to fix.

Runner's World has a good article about it but there is a very simple answer. Band-Aids.  Yep grab a couple of your kids Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aids and slap those over your nipples.  Just make sure you peal them off before you go strutting around the finish line with your shirt off.   

Happy Running


So you want to be a runner but not sure how to start?

The hardest part is starting.  What cloths do I need?  How far should I run?  Should I run in $200 shoes or those funny shoes that look like water shoes?  What should I eat and drink?  Do I really need to do fartleks and what are they?

It’s actually very simple.  Get off your rear and start with a walk.  That is the single most difficult thing to do.  Really!  Really?  Yes really.

The second hardest is to do it the next day and the next and the next.  Until shazam! The next thing you know you are a runner.  But be careful because soon you will be that slim dude or dudette who is planning vacations around marathons.  Ah the runner high….

Ok so seriously, here is a great article from Runners World that answers all those questions you want to ask your skinny runner friend but don’t want to ask your skinny runner friend.

Finally, consider going to the park and walking / running on a trail.  It is much easier on your body and mind.

Next we will tell you how to be an Ironman. Got an extra 600 hours in your year?

Happy Running


Need a training break?  Try a naked run.

Dreading your next run?  Can’t seem to find the motivation to lace up your shoes and get out there?  You may just be in a training rut. 

Try this – forget your regular route where you know every mile, every yappy little dog to watch out for, every house that you wonder why don’t they just mow the lawn, every intersection, stop light, stop sign, crack in the road to jump over, water stop……….

Go to a park and try a new course or a trail run.  Most parks have great trails that meander through forests and around lakes. If you are lucky enough to live is southeastern WI, try a Waukesha County or Wisconsin State park.  They all have trails of varying distances and difficulties.

Most importantly, leave your GPS, GU belt, heart rate monitor and iPod at home.  Just run.   We call it running naked.

What did you think running naked meant?

Happy “naked” running


How does timing work?

As athletes, we frequently take timing for granted.  After all, how hard can it be?  There is a chip on the bib and when you finish it magically records your time.  You never even think about the timer hiding behind the finish line.  That is until they get it wrong…

Well, timing is actually a very sophisticated and complicated process. 

Here is how it works.  That chip on your bib is actually a tiny computer that stores data on it.  When you get near the finish line, an antenna (four in our case) sends a signal out to your bib.  When the bib sees that signal, it responds with the data on the bib.  Simple enough.  What could possible go wrong?

Do you remember at your last race when the race director was giving instructions about your bib placement?  Barking over the PA system to make sure you place your bib on the front of your shirt.  That’s because the antenna can’t see through your body and thus can’t communicate with your chip. 

Ever notice those random people standing around a finish line with a pen and paper or a laptop?  Those random people are typically the timing crew with backup systems and if they can’t see your bib, they can’t record it. 

Do the timing crew a favor and place the bib where they recommend.  You will get a much more accurate timing result.

What else can go wrong? 

You signed up for the 10K but only ran the 5K. The computer still thinks you ran a 10K but you are super quick.  Just let the timer know when you finish and they will take care of it.  Otherwise, when they call your name as the winner of the 10K you can do it then.  Really your friends won’t call you out on it.

When you signed up for the family friendly 5K, you used your name for all 4 members but put the right ages and sex in.  The computer doesn’t know this and when the results are printed, Mrs. Johnson won the 10 and under boys division.  Your son will be so proud of you. 

What can you do to make sure you get the most accurate result for your race?

1.       Place the bib where the RD or timer asks.
2.       Ensure all the data is correct when you register.
3.       If there is an issue with your results, do not approach the timers.  Most timers will have one person who is the point of contact.  That person will handle all the discrepancies.  Just let them know ASAP and shazam it will get taken care of.
4.       Run super duper fast and see if you can beat the antenna signals. 

Couple fun facts

1.       Our antenna starts to read your chip about 30 feet before you finish and tracks you all the way in.
2.       The results are accurate to 0.001 second.
3.       The chip on your bib actually has to be programmed by the timer before a race. Imagine how long it takes to program 1000 chips.
4.       Typically, there is a main timing computer, 1-2 back up computers, 1 computer used just for results & race clock TV’s and someone hand writing results.
5.       The antennas can read speed 200+ miles per hour.  Just in case you can ride your bike that fast.

So that’s it in laymen terms.  If you have an interest in more details, we would be happy to geek out with you and go through the system.  Just don’t ask the timer to do it during a race.

Happy Running


What's the deal with medals?

Like t-shirts, it’s a love / hate relationship with race directors.  As a fellow endurance athlete, I love getting a medal as the overall winner. I also love it when I just win my age group.  Only problem....I am a middle of the pack age grouper.  However I have been fortunate enough to place three times in my racing career. Only problem, the race director at each of those events did not have medals. Ug talk about a letdown.  

So like shirts, we take medals serious.  We try to provide a quality finisher’s medal for all our half marathons and when our events are timed, we again try to provide a quality age group medal.  

If you're not lucky enough to have a wall full of winner or age group medals, then we hope you take solace in getting a quality finisher's medal from Silver Circle Sports Events. 

Couple facts about medals

  • They cost between two and five bucks each.
  • Custom lanyards cost a few additional dollars.
  • Custom medals must be ordered at least 8 weeks in advance and they all come from China on a boat.
  • We use Hasty Awards and our rep Rick is great!
  • Yes we have thousands of old medals sitting in our warehouse.  Like shirts, it is a complete waste of resources and not very green. Any ideas?

Now you know. Happy Running.


What is the difference between cross country and trail runs?

Great question!  Cross country runs are typically held at a high school, collage, golf course or some other area that has a large area of open space that is mowed.  Generally speaking, cross country runners wear spikes.

Trail running involves a much large terrain format.  It can include everything from cross country type space, rocky areas, open fields, dirt paths, hills or even groomed areas.  Much of it is up to the race director.  Occasionally, cross country involves trails but not frequently in southeastern Wisconsin.

All of the Wisconsin Trail Assail courses include an open field start where runners toe the line for a mass start - just like cross country.  After a sprint across an open field, runners enter the trail system.  For the Wisconsin Trail Assail, most are groomed trails and covered in compacted wood chips.  Most people do not wear spikes but you certainly can if you wish.

Happy running


Why is running so expensive?

Why are half marathons so expensive? I don't know.  Here is an article in Esquire about the sky rocketing prices of half marathons.

"The average entry fee for the top 25 U.S. marathons has gone up 35 percent since 2007, to $112—three and a half times faster than inflation—according to the industry association RunningUSA. For the top 25 half marathons, which have become hugely popular, the average price has more than doubled, to $94. And while (today’s) Boston Marathon cost a comparatively cheap $150, the New York Marathon rose from $80 in 2004 to $255 last year, a 219 percent increase."

As a side note, you can run four 1/2 marathon and 4 10k's at Silver Circle Sports Events, LLC for the cost of running one marathon. 

How to save $$$ and run for free?

At SCSE we understand racing is expensive.  Heck that 140.6 distance triathlon is almost $800. We get it.  There are a couple ways to race cheaply.  The cheapest is free.  Volunteer at any event and you can run one of our events for free. That's good for 2 calendar years.  We have a couple that volunteer at every event and race all our events for free.

The other way is to register early.  Generally the entry fee is about 1/2 the cost of race day.  Either way, racing can be much cheaper with just a little planning.


Lets start with some frequently asked questions..

How long does it take to cone a course?
That depends on a number of factors but in general it takes about 3 hours to cone a 1/2 marathon.

How many cones does it take to cone a 1/2 marathon.
Again, it depends on a number of facts but its around 500.

Where do you store all that stuff?
In a warehouse.

How long does it take to set up a mud run course?
We start preparing a course about a week out.  Generally we have the excavators dig the pits 5-6 days in advance and then test them. Sometimes we have to line the pits to keep water in but it all depends on weather conditions.

How much does it cost to promote a run?  It's just a tshirt, some water and a few medals right?
Sometimes but for us its always more than that. Here are a couple examples of some of the costs that your entry fee covers

Tents - couple grand
Permits - as cheap as free or we just permitted an event for $1,600.
Timing - we own our own timing company now.  They still charge us too much.
Police - generally its around $25 per hour with a minimum of two officers and two hours.
Medical - sometimes free and sometimes $1,000.  We always have medical on site just in case.
Insurance - don't ask.
Legal - you don't want to know.
Water - your not going to believe this.  Sometimes we have to pay to have a meter put on the water source.  That is around $400.  The cost of the water from the meter? Around $20.
Garbage - couple hundred bucks.
Income tax - ask our accountant.
Porta potties - couple hundred bucks each.
Want to start an event or need some help?  Click on contact us and send us a jingle. We would be happy to answer a few questions.

That's it for now.