Crim officials considering cap on 10-mile race in future as entries continue to rise

Crim officials considering cap on 10-mile race in future as entries continue to rise

FLINT, Michigan — As the popularity of running and walking grows, it increasingly has become the norm for major road races to put limits on entry totals.

The Crim 10-mile road race has no such limits — yet.

CRIM_08.JPGView full sizeAbout 10,000 runners and walkers line up for the start of the 2010 Crim 10-mile road race.

But that may become an option some year if the race continues its rate of growth, race director Deb Kiertzner said.

The Crim Festival of Races is on pace to break last year’s participation record, with 12,781 entries registered for all of its races as of Sunday night.

The entry numbers put the event about 1,000 ahead of where they were at this time last year when the Crim set records with 16,226 total entrants and 10,219 in the 10-mile race. So far, there are 8,824 entries for the 10-mile portion, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

“There’s almost no way to predict (the final numbers),” said Kiertzner, pointing out that if the weather looks bad Saturday it could deter last-minute entries.

Registration continues all week, with packet pick-up scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Riverfront Conference Center in Flint.

Total Crim participation hit a lull with less than 12,000 entrants in 2005 and 2006. But, for the most part, participation has been on the upswing in the years since.

Although there has been enough room on Saginaw Street to accommodate all of the 10-mile participants so far, Kiertzner said that might not be the case if the race continues to grow at a fast rate.

If the back of the pack extends much farther south on Saginaw Street, it would block First Street, which is on the second mile of the course.

The wheelchair racers start at 7:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the runners and walkers. The wheelers are still coming down First Street while 10-milers are lining up.

Capping entries is one solution if the race pack extends too far down Saginaw Street, Kiertzner said.

“I think we’re getting close,” she said. “We’re constricted by the physical boundaries in downtown Flint. We can’t change the geography here, so I believe it’s in the Crim’s future that we’ll have to look at capping the 10 mile. I’m not saying we’re prepared to do that next year, but I think that’s something we definitely need to look at.”

A race similar to the Crim, the Cherry Blossom 10 mile in Washington, D.C., caps its entries at 15,000 as a condition of gaining a permit from the National Park Service. Runners must enter a lottery for a chance to earn entry.

The most famous race with capped entries is the Boston Marathon, which reached its limit of 25,000 within eight hours after online registration opened last September.

That capping entries is even a consideration is “a good problem,” Kiertzner said.

She said that an option other than setting registration limits would be to change the course to create more space for the start.

The medical tent is being moved two storefronts south on Saginaw Street this year to open up more room for the start wave, she said.

The only other option, she said, would be to push the finish back on Saginaw Street and have the race re-certified by sanctioning body USA Track & Field.

Among the plans to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Crim are appearances by former champions Herb Lindsay, Greg Meyer, Cathy O’Brien and Lisa (Weidenbach) Rainsbarger, and the recognition of the 21 men who have participated in every 10-mile race since the beginning in 1977.

“We historically see a bump (in participation) on the five-year anniversary: 25, 30, 35,” Kiertzner said. “I don’t know if it’s because of the extra hype or people want to take part in the celebration. Last year, we had an excellent turnout, and those people may have told friends. Word of mouth may account for it.”

Despite the anniversary, Kiertzner was prepared for a dip in entry totals this year, she said.

“Based on a lot of the conferences I’ve been to and feedback I’ve received, running events have trended down a little in the last year across the board,” she said. “Just like we saw an uptick about three or four years ago, now we’re seeing a little bit of a downturn. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as we’ve tracked registrations.”