By Jack Belanger ’21
Back on Oct. 5, Providence College held its 10th annual Friar 5K as part of Homecoming Weekend. The race may have been a commercial success with over 900 runners registered, more than 800 who finished the race, and $15,000 raised towards the National Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. For some runners though, the race did not go as planned.
A group of at least 30 runners who led for most of the race unintentionally went off the course in front of the Slavin Center, shaving off anywhere between a tenth to a quarter of a mile. For those who were looking to finish in the top three of their age group, their times would be disqualified; for others looking to set new personal records, their times were no longer reflective of their performance that day. The question that floated through everyone’s mind was simple: how did so many runners manage to get off the course?
For those who were not at the event, the runners were supposed to run up the street behind Raymond Dining Hall and take a left towards Moore Hall and back to Eaton Street. The runners instead stayed straight, ran towards the Science Complex and back out the front gates where they would get back onto the course before they crossed the finish line.
While the gaffe may not be a huge deal for casual runners, the fact of the matter is the course should have been marked better for those who were competing for the top spots. Organizers should have had people at the turn directing people where to go, simple as that.
It can be argued that the runners should have taken responsibility and known how to stay on the course, but that is not the first thing that runners are thinking about in the moment. Runners are focused on trying to keep pace around those near them or catch up with the leaders of the group.
It is the responsibility of those organizing the race to make sure the race goes smoothly. Not only does that mean giving out water to make sure runners stay hydrated, but it also means marking the course clearly at any turn or spot that could potentially lead runners the wrong way. If anyone does get off course, action should be taken quickly to get people back onto the course and prevent more from getting off track.
Many people came from all around the country to celebrate Homecoming Weekend and race with their fellow Friars. Plenty trained for the race, and it is unfair to those who may not have taken a look at the map beforehand to lose the opportunity to finish the way they hoped for just because time was not taken to prevent this from happening.
The Friar 5K should be an event that is celebrated as something that brings the community together and allows runners to get a chance to do their best with their families and classmates watching. In order to make sure that controversy can be avoided going forward, the College should take the necessary steps to make sure something like this does not happen again.