In our ongoing series of dilemmas faced by mother runners, we've met a gal who dislocated her hip during a marathon when she slipped on a banana peel and we've profiled an ingenious woman who pretended her Garmin was a camera to scare off creepy driver. Now meet Shannan, a mom of two in Baker City, Oregon, ran a small 10K trail race (“small” in this case equals, at most, four women in the race) earlier this month.
She won the race—or, at least, thought she did. Running a two-loop course, Shannan was announced as the lead 10Ker when she crossed the midway point, then she was proclaimed the first-place finisher when she crossed the finish line. At the awards ceremony, she was bestowed the first-place award. A week later, Shannan checked the website looking for race photos. The place finishers were listed on the website page, but her name wasn’t listed. Like she said, it was a miniscule race, and Shannan knows she came in first because she saw the second-place finisher cross the finish line minutes after she did. (The two gals had talked to each other in the starting corral, so Shannan recognized her.) Shannan also received many congratulations after she crossed the line.
Shannan realizes this race isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, but as she wrote to us, “but it kinda is—I mean, when will I ever win a 10K again?” (She describes herself as “not speedy; I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner.” Her time in the 10K, which included two almost mile-long climbs, was 1:01.)
So Shannan emailed the organization that put on the race, stating she was awarded first place for the 10K. She wrote wasn't sure if there was a mistake on the website posting or if she had been awarded the winner’s gift certificate by mistake (she thought maybe she’d be disqualified somehow?). Shannan even let the organizers know she still had the gift certificate so she could return it if it was awarded to her by mistake.
The seemingly cut-and-paste email response Shannan received:
I’m sorry for the problems with the timing. We had power problems with the clock and 2 of the 3 stop-watches died.
We are already talking about ways to improve the timing situation so please except [sic] my apology. Jane Doe was the 1st Place winner in the women’s division and I did see Jane come in 1st. After that I pretty much had my head down trying to make things come together. Over all we hope you had a good time and will join us next year.
Shannan was left scratching her head.
What would you do?
Sarah answers: Well, given that I already would have bragged about my win far and wide on Facebook, Twitter, and just about any other social media site imaginable, I would have figured the race organizers made a mistake. Sure, race results live forever on the Internet, but all the shout-outs on race day told the truth.
Dimity answers: Sounds like the race director knew there were a few probs with this race, so I would've just let it lie as well. Probably wouldn't go back, though--and definitely wouldn't recommend it to anybody who asked me about it. (And let's be honest: anytime the topic of that race—or trail racing in general—came up, I'd definitely find a way to slip in the story.)
What Shannan did: She didn’t respond to the seemingly generic email response. As she told us: “I figured no good would come out of responding, and it might seem sort of combative.”
What happened: That said, Shannan wanted some sort of validation that she hadn’t lost her marbles—that she really had won the race. She didn’t have any friends or family at the race (alas!), but it turned out one of her husband’s co-workers had run the race. Shannan had her husband ask the fellow if, indeed, Shannan had been the first woman across the line in the 10K. His response, “Most definitely.”
What would you, another mother runner, do?
And if you’ve got a running-related moment you’d like some clarity on, via WWAMRD, feel free to email us at runmother [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks!