Sunday, August 31, 2008

RACE REPORT: Nike Human Race


Race: The Nike Human Race 10K
Date: Sunday, August 31, 2008
Time: 6:23pm
Place: Randalls Island, New York
Distance: 10 Kilometers
Temperature: 80 degrees
Humidity: 62%
Winds: Calm
# of Runners: 15,000+
Time: 46:52
Pace: 7:33 PR (Personal Record!)
Placement: NIKE SUCKS

A few months ago Nike went public with this "Human" race. To this day (sep 22), I still don't know what the message behind this race was other than it was Nike's exploitive way of saying they had the most runners worldwide ever.

The fact that I even entertained doing this race was nothing short of me being mentally unstable. I had just done the Manhattan 14.2 Training Run race earlier in the morning, and while I was not running that all out in order to save myself for this race, I really had no business even doing that race earlier either. Hell, I just finished moving 30 hours ago, and was shot to hell!

But, I love a challenge.

And so, yes, here I am driving over the Triboro Bridge, and making my way over to Randall's Island with my good pal Scott in the pax seat. Neither one of us were looking at making any record times tonight. In fact, all we were interested was in finishing. Doing 2 races in 1 day would be an accomplishment that I have never done before in my life, but to do it after moving 100+ boxes, and furniture, out of a storage unit and up a two flight walkup some 40 miles away, is something completely insane.

In addition to which, the temperature was hot as hell.

When we got to Randall's the security there was, as nasty as hell. They were directing traffic for people on where to park. They even called this one woman an "idiot" for not following directions. It's a good thing that I wasn't that woman's man, or else there be some major fists flying in his direction. Seriously.

Nike, in their usual circus-like fasion, had a large grass field to the right of Icahn's Track & Field Stadium for all the vendors that were promting the race. Of course, we shamelessly hit every booth, the Granola section, the energy bar section, the poland spring area (which by the way, gave out these nice t-shirts saying "green is the new black".

Nike had photoshoot back drops, promotional vans, and even video cams where you can send a video email to your loved ones.

In the same fashion as their Run Hit Wonder races, Nike's number was printed on their mandatory, race-day battle-red technical shirts. Thousands wearing these red shirts began to flood in, and not long after we got there, the whole island was one big sea of red. If you looked out into the distance, you could see the ferry's hauling in hundreds of more red shirts. It was a red-shirt invasion!

For as well as Nike does their pre-race hype and station setups, they did far worse during the actual race. In fact, this race was THE WORST, disorganized effort ever.

And here is how they sucked ass. And if anyone at Nike reads this, please note that I am doing this in the hopes that you improve (should you ever consider to do another one of these races)

1. Randall's Island is a horrible place for a race.

The roads are broken, and unkept. There are hazards everywhere. In the first half-mile for example, I nearly ran into a signless, green sign-post. I could not see it because it was camouflaged by the grass around it. There are cars everywhere coming in and going out from picnicing. Driving right through our course. There is a sewage treatment facility (though thank God that it was not operational at the time of the run).

Why couldn't this have been done in Central Park, or even Roosevelt Island? Anywhere but here.

2. The gestapo security has got to go.

There was some fucking 400 barely-off-the-boat asswipe calling runners idiots, because they could not follow his low-brow'ed instructions as to where to park. If anyone called my wife, or girlfriend an idiot at the top of their lungs so that everyone else could here, I would have been finishing my a prison cell. Namely, because that "security" person would still be looking for his teeth. I hate mean people.

Nike may turn a blind eye and say they had nothing to do with this. Well Nike, wake up. This is another reason why Randall's Island EEES NO SO GOOD CHU SEE????

3. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Nike had too many runners in this race. It was a 10K race and they had 15000 runners. Ridiculous. I understand that there are other places (ie. Peachtreek 10K in Atlanta) that boasts even more for such an event. Frankly, I don't understand the fun of it. This is the Human Race, not the Human Fun Run. There is no way you can compete for a good time, unless you are in the front of the line......and even if you are in the front, wait till you read point number 6.....

4. When you say 6pm, then mean it!

The race was supposed to start at 6pm, but for some unfounded reason, Nike decided to have their garbage-pickers kick into high gear at 5:55pm to scour the footpath for hazmats. What?

They had all day to make sure that the race course was safe. What were they doing all this time? Just Do It? No, more like JUST BLEW IT! (damn, that was effin' corny, right? *sigh*)

We didn't start the race until 6:23pm. It was so bad that at one point we were all chanting *RACE, RACE, RACE* I thought I was in Watts in the late sixties waiting for a riot to break out.

Even more exuisitely nauseating was the person talking to the crowd, stepping over himself on the PA trying to make excuses and keep the crowd at bay. It was painful!

5. The water was warm and not plentiful.

Besides the course being way too narrow for even a Fiat Panda to squeeze through, the water that they gave (and little of it - only 2 stops that I saw) was actually almost HOT. Disgusting. It kinda reminded me of the episode of Seinfeld in which the Kenyan runner accidentally takes Kramer's cup of hot coffee to drink while racing.....Eeeeek!

6. The race course was A-T-R-O-C-I-O-U-S.

How elseabout I just save you the grief and cut to the chase? With 1/2 mile to go, EVERYONE came to a DEAD STOP. Part of the footpath (see below) took us over a very narrow bridge.

This bridge is run over twice. The people passing approaching the 3 mile mark were merging with those of us approaching the 6 mile mark. Not only did we stop, but we stopped for about 3 minutes hard. It was bar-none THE WORST RACE COURSE ENGINEERING EVER, and the person responsible should have been let go (assuming there is such a job for this). We were all on the verge of doing incredible PRs. There were desperate people all around me trying to avoid the logjam. One woman literally hurdled over me from the top of a sitting bench on the bridge, while Barbara, who was also in the race, also reported that she saw a guy run across the top rail that crossed the bridge. One step in either direction, and he would have plummeted into the water. This is ridiculous! Could Nike have been sued if this person had fallen in and died? Probably not. But then again, who knows?

7. The statistics after the race are THE WORST ever.

So, okay, I came in 25,250th place compared to the "rest" of the world. What does that mean exactly? All I know is that there were 26 cities competing. But I don't know how many runners in total that is, do you? Do you even know how many runners there were in each city? Or what percentage of runners were men? Even in the NYC race alone? And who did I beat, and who beat me? . Just go there, and go to the race. Their statistical reporting is ATROCIOUS. New York Road Runners is superior in every way to Nike. In fact, Forest Park Road Runners, my club, for the 300 participants and our little humble race, did a phenomenal job compared to Nike. And if anyone argues the point that it's much easier to tabulate our race, then think this.....We did not have computer chips in our race. Nor did we have millions of dollars to make the race what Nike should have made it out to be.

Instead of spending money on any of the research, organization, development, and race controlling, they opted instead for the JUST DO IT banner across Carl Icahn Stadium.

And the post-race entertainment, was crap. LA got Kanye West. What did we get? I can't even remember if the name of the group was a form of tropical disease or a variety of yogurt. Horrible, all the way around.

And, despite all this whining and complaining and just out and out bitching, I still managed to DESTROY my PR. After all I had been through since my move on Friday, I summoned something within myself, and posted blazing splits.

In Mile 1, Scott and I were just trying to stay alive and move with the monstrous herd of red all around us. He and I would look for openings for one another and the other would follow suit.
Mile 1 split: 07:46.69

In Mile 2, I was able to get Scott some water for him and I, because in this race, if you were more than 5 feet away from a water table, then you weren't going to get any water. It was just that dense.
Mile 2 split: 07:37.18

In Mile 3, was the bridge, and more hazardous areas to watch for including get this....... active motorists! on the path....
Mile 3 split: 07:46.25

In Mile 4, we were still moving hard still surrounded by many, but now I am passing a great many of these peeps though.
Mile 4 split: 07:36.89

In Mile 5, Scott drops back and tells me to go forth, and then ...... THE FREAKING BRIDGE!!!!
Mile 5 split: 7:30.62

In Mile 6, we enter the stadium, and rather than rejoicing from the crowds from the stands cheering us on, I was (like so many others) so pissed off about the bridge stoppage, that I did not even want to look at my time on the Official Race clock overhead.
Mile 6 split: 7:01.67

Last 2/10ths split: 1:33.12

Total Time: 46:52
Pace: 7:33 - A new personal record.

The replenishment row ahead was chock full of disgruntled runners. This was by far the worst experience that the HUMAN RACE has ever experienced during the run.

Congratulations Nike. Oh and thanks for charging me the amount of money that you did. I really got my money's worth. Of course, I am being completely sarcastic. At the very least, we all should have gotten a real medal and not some cardboard baton-like case holding a cheap dog tag inside.

Nike Sucks.

Looks like I won't be getting sponsored by them anytime soon, huh?


DGA said...

Just for that I am declaring war to NIKE. No more Nike sneakers, caps, socks, shirts, golf clubs, and suppositories. Oh, wait...suppositories? They don't have the exclusivity! We'll get them, whether we need them or not, from the organizers, the "gestapo", the water providers, and anybody else who is not running. After all, runners don't count. They are the needed ingredient to close the sale. The idea is to create awareness that NIKE is such a humanitarian company!

Farah said...

In the middle of the race, after getting stuck, then having to walk because of the crowds, then seeing the Naked Cowboy (for what?)I realized I was in a Nike Commercial!!! I did have a good time with my friends. The snack at the end did hit the spot. By the way my time running in the Park is about 4 MINUTES faster!! I realy hope Nike learned from this and does a better job inthe future. Maybe they should do this in Forrest or Corona Park. Anything would have been better than Randall's Island.

Miko said...

I totally agree with you that this was the worst course ever! Too many people and just a terrible venue. The idea was intriguing, that is why I joined in the first place, but from the hot water to the overcrowding to the course itself, you just could not get me to do it again!