The Imogene Pass Run

By Matt Carpenter

We interrupt the course description for an opinion...

We interrupt the interruption for a 2nd opinion...

OK, the word has spread that the course description is not really removed. A somewhat popular website made it public that after you post comments below you are taken to the course description. This is true, I admit it, and in fact the course description was never removed. However, I much preferred it before the “secret” got out because now I am not getting many actual comments and instead I am getting junk inputs — hitting any key just to fill in the form.

At any rate, now that the gig is up I simply ask that you take a few moments and leave some constructive comments. I don’t care which side of the issue you are on — I just want to hear your thoughts. If posting your comments is too much of a hassle well then the sport is in trouble indeed!

In 1998 the Imogene Pass Run became part of the US Fila Skyrunning Circuit. This meant that the top 10 male and female athletes qualified for other US SkyMarathons. This in turn could allow for those who could not otherwise afford to travel the opportunity to race in other parts of the world. Being on the circuit also meant that a small amount of prize money was awarded to the overall winners of the race.

In 1999 the race withdrew from the circuit claiming that this put too much focus on the “elite” runners. The IPR board claims that the IPR is just a local run between two communities and that it is not really a race anyway.

Well then, I think the IPR board should also do away with all age-group awards because this also draws focus away from the people who are not fast enough to win those either. Next they should stop keeping track of course records because this too focuses on the faster runners. Heck they should even do away with the finish line and that way everybody can go home and say we just ran and had a good old time.*

At any rate, since I am not a local — and I happen to be fast — I would not want to harm the “run” by making my course description available to other non-local runners I have removed it from my site. Besides, if you are from Ouray or Telluride you don’t need a course description because you can just train on the course. In the meantime for us non-locals — fast or not so fast — there are other mountains to climb.

* Of course the IPR board won’t take these steps because they don’t mind giving out awards — at least not to the locals. They just learned in 1998 that if you offered some real awards the locals would no longer take most of them home! In 1997 4 of the top 5 females (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th) came from Telluride with the top 4 females running the race in under 3 hours. In 1998 the top 8 females went under 3 hours with just 2 of the top 5 (2nd and 5th) coming from Telluride. The Telluride female who was bumped from 5th in 1997 to 9th in 1998, despite running over a minute faster, publicly stated that the 1998 race was the most competitive in the race’s history! Isn’t it ironic that she sits on the board of the IPR? The same board who wants to focus more on the locals!?

Update: In the first few weeks since I removed the course description I have received many comments. Most agree whole heatedly with me and will miss the top fields that the IPR board decision might eliminate. However there have been a few people who are pretty pissed off that I would have the audacity to not provide them with a course description and don’t mind telling me so. The fact of the matter is I am not running a popularity contest here so it does not matter which side of the issue you are on!

My reason for removing the course description was to open a dialog about running. How often do we hear people say USA distance runners stink? I too feel there is a problem and races like this are part of that problem. The IPR board will tell you that they donate a lot of money to a school track program. I say big deal! So what if they are helping create tomorrow’s football, baseball and basketball stars? What kid in his right mind is going to continue to run when he sees that there is no chance to make a living at it? To me the IPR board is sending a two sided message: “It is OK to run in school but don’t ever take it too seriously and get good or something.” By going out of its way to discourage faster runners the IPR board has slammed another nail into the USA’s distance running coffin.

Far too many races are jumping on the “we are here for the middle of the pack runner and don’t really cater to the elite runner” bandwagon. While on the surface this sounds oh so nice and politically correct what they are really saying is “we are too lazy to do the work needed to attract top athletes.” You see when you have a great course like the IPR does getting middle of the pack runners to come does not require any work. They register early, run the race, and go home and the IPR board had to do NOTHING to get them. Because of the limited field, supply can not keep up with demand and the race will fill earlier and earlier each year. A successful run? I think not! Unless continuing the USA’s backward slide into mediocrity is your ideal of success. You see it is a domino effect and when you take away the little dominos — like providing for the chance for 20 athletes to qualify for bigger races — you start them all falling and eventually you end up with no top runners.

Look, I understand that some people like the scenery and just want to run. Great! Just stop bad mouthing USA distance runners every time you see foreign athletes winning the biggest races! You kid yourself if you think all those foreign athletes are so good because of the love of it! To them, being a distance runner is their way to make it big.

Why am I picking on the IPR? Well this is my first domino into making a stand. I did the IPR many many years when all the winner got was a home-made plate and it never bothered me — some races do not have the means to offer more. But this race was offered more from an outside source and they turned it down. To me that is worse than doing nothing! I don’t believe their stated reasons of wanting to be a “hometown run” because most of their runners are not locals. If they truly wanted to be a local run then they could simply not accept non-local entries and then no one could say anything. Bottom line I feel this decision is based on the short sightedness of a few key members of the board — see “*” above.

2000 Update: I am told that the winning time of the men’s 2000 IPR was one of the slowest in it’s history! While this has not been confirmed it is true that the same 1st and 2nd place times in the 2000 race would have placed 5th and 9th in 1998. This is along the same lines as the 2000 Pikes Peak Marathon which was won in the slowest winning time since 1964 — when only 17 people did the race!!! This in not good for our sport. Did anybody pay attention to the fact that we sent only one male and one female to the Olympic Marathon last month? It is all tied together. No one is asking for an elitist event and it is not a matter of either/or. That is the beauty of the sport of running and what makes it the best sport there is — we can all run together no matter our age, weight and yes, no matter our speed. That does not change the fact that to be among the best running becomes nothing less than a job. Sure it is then easy to say that they should get another job and in that lies the problem. They do, and that is why it has almost come to the point that for the USA to be competitive on a world level we need to start a new race category; runners that work the most hours. It’s just a simple fact that you can’t pay the electric bill with wooden trophies!

2001 Update: Men’s time second slowest (behind last year) since 1985. Women’s about the same.

2002 Update: This e-mail update was sent in by someone: “Not much change, the men went 6 seconds slower than last year. The women went 8 seconds faster.” One cool thing is that an Incline Club runner, Andy Dimmen broke the 15-19 age-group record by over 20 minutes! However he said he had to point it out because they were not keeping track at the awards ceremony...

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