Jury of Appeal ?

Events that arose in the recent Speedgoat 50k seem to have opened a can of worms! Is racing and applying race rules so difficult?

Let’s face it, in the ultra world on a course of say 100 miles, how will it ever be possible to ensure a runner abides by the rules?

At Speedgoat 50k confusion arose over the difference between ‘trail’ racing rules for the US and Skyrunning rules. Had RD Karl Meltzer stipulated a race rule pre race that corners ‘must not be cut’ then I guess we would have clearly had a DQ for Kilian. Under the circumstances Karl made, in my opinion, the best decision possible. End of story! Moving forward RD’s will learn from this and ensure that rules are clear before a race begins.

Taken from The Examiner
For this year’s 57th running of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon to be held the weekend of August 18-19, the Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc., board of directors has announced that a three-member jury of appeals will be in place to review and handle any race day issues affecting runners to include visible course cutting, unsportsmanlike conduct, and the awarding of prizes and prize money.

“Even though rules and regulations at the Pikes Peak events are very specific, there is always a chance that runners misinterpret them. We want to provide a forum whereby any course infractions can be reviewed and considered thoughtfully and thoroughly before a runner is disqualified from the event,” said Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc., President Ron Ilgen.

Although the inclusion of a jury of appeals is not groundbreaking, for instance the World Mountain Running Championships includes in their regulations a requirement that a jury of appeals be appointed, the majority of mountain and trail running events do not have an appointed jury.

USA Track & Field (USATF), the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States, has several published documents regarding meet personnel, referees, and jury of appeals for events they administer or sanction. Although mountain and trail running falls under the umbrella of long distance running, many of the events staged in the U.S. are not sanctioned by USATF and therefore operate with their own rules, regulations, or guidelines.

As more prize money is introduced into trail and mountain running events, there is more at stake than just a finisher medal.

As Ilgen states, “With athletes vying for a share of an increased prize purse this year, (it was announced last month that $54,000 is up for grabs at Pikes Peak), we want to insure that rules are adhered to and everyone in the race is competing on a level playing field.”

Just a few weeks ago, the Speedgoat 50K had an issue with a top runner reported to have cut the course. Without a jury in place, race director Karl Meltzer had to make a tough decision affecting the outcome of the race and the awarding of prize money. It was a ‘live and learn’ experience and something Meltzer doesn’t want to repeat in the future. He agreed that a referee in place at the event would have made the decision a lot easier.

Some of the items that could be addressed by the jury of appeals at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon include visible course cutting – either noticed by race officials who will be stationed throughout the course, or by other athletes in the race. This constitutes grounds for disqualification. Issues on marathon day related to an athlete hampering another athlete’s progress on race day related to an uphill runner not yielding to the faster downhill runner – possible grounds for disqualification. Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated and is possible grounds for disqualification. Runners may take aid at specified aid stations, or take aid from supporters along the trail, or carry their own aid. However, taking oxygen prior to the completion of the race (even if medically necessary), is grounds for disqualification.

The Pikes Peak festivities kick off Thursday, August 16, at 1:00 p.m. with a press conference and reception for media and athletes. This event is open to the public and will be held at Manitou Springs City Hall. On Friday, August 17, the expo and packet pickup opens in Memorial Park in Manitou Springs at 9:00 a.m.

The Pikes Peak Ascent start time for the first wave of runners is 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 18, with the second wave heading up the mountain at 7:30 a.m.. The culminating event, the Pikes Peak Marathon, will start at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 19. Follow the Pikes Peak races as they unfold on Twitter @runpikespeak.

Statement from ISF re Speedgoat 50k

Marino Giacometti, ISF President, in reply to the Speedgoat issue comments:

“It’s taken a while for us to get all the feedback together but here goes:

The ISF board  conferred with the new Athletes Commission, ATRA and the organiser, Karl Meltzer and we came to the following decision:

Everyone concurs that runners must stay on the course.  However, as things stand only guidelines exist in America.  In this case there was no written regulation at Speedgoat – something Karl says he will include in the future.

On Kilian’s own admission he cut the course and ran by skyrunning rules.  It seems that possibly some of the other runners did the same.

As a race on the World Series calendar, ISF rules state that organisers’ rules must be adhered to and in the case of a dispute ISF rules will prevail.

We respect the organiser’s difficult decision and will apply a 3 minute penalty* to Kilian which means he maintains first place in the race and consequently 100 points for the Ultra Series ranking. *Penalty (6.15 COMPETITOR’S RACE CONDUCT – a) Competitors must follow the course markings on sight, go through all the checkpoints…..) and (6.16.1 A penalty from three minutes to disqualification will be applied for: c) Not following the race course signage, voluntarily or otherwise…

We believe that it’s correct to assign the record to the second runner  (Rickey) who ran the designated course.  Whether Kilian gets the prize or not is exclusively up to the organiser and we already know that decision.

I’d like to add that the majority of skyrunning races worldwide (not just in Europe) take place in parks or protected areas and generally are capped for this reason – as well as for safety reasons of course.   (The ISF rules (4.22)  and (3.13) address  these environmental issues).

Regarding the Pikes Peak precedent in 2004, the situation was different.  The rules there state clearly no switchback cutting.  The winner, Agustì Roc, was disqualified and given a 20 minute penalty which meant he dropped some places and received the relevant points for his final position.

Everyone we consulted agreed that there’s a need in the future for race organizers to publish clear, simple and written regulations and, with the new Athletes Commission, we’ll be reviewing ours as well!! A pre-race briefing should also be held to illustrate the regulations and the course to all the competitors.  We’re actually working on standardizing this for all organizers, so it should be easier for everyone all round.  Certainly it’s not easy to find a compromise but “rules are rules” and, as Anna Frost says “let’s keep it simple”!

Marino