What does it mean for a course to be certified?
A certified course is one that has been measured according to strictly defined rules, as set forth by the USA Track and Field Road Running Technical Council, and where the paperwork that accompanies that measurement has been “certified” by the appropriate USATF State Certifier.
What are the advantages of having my course certified?
Certification is your assurance to the customer (the runner) that the course they are about to run is accurate. Moreover, having your course certified means that times run on it are eligible for state records. .
Why should I worry about state records ---- the chances of one being set on my course are so slim.
Not true. Tennessee State Records are kept for every single age, for each gender, for each race distance. For 5K’s, the existing list has records from age 3 to age 89 for men, and age 3 to age 85 for women --- that’s a total of 172 different records that can be challenged on your 5K course. Chattanooga is under-represented on the state record lists ---- not because our runners are any slower, but because we as a club have not consistently tracked and reported results to the state record keeper.
Who is qualified to measure a course for certification purposes?
Anyone who can ride a bicycle in a reasonably straight line and who can follow clearly-explained directions. Possession of a Jones Counter, mounted to a bicycle or a push wheel is required.
What are the basic steps to getting a course certified?
(1) The race director and the course measurer should run / ride over the course together, and discuss in detail exactly where the runners will be allowed to run, and where they won’t, making that decision about the traffic lanes, sidewalks, shoulders, corners, etc.
(2) The course measurer calibrates the bicycle on a USATF-certified calibration course (see below).
(3) The course measurer measures the race course a minimum of two times, marking the preliminary start, finish, and mile markers as they go. It helps, but is not required, to have two people for this step, so that one person can concentrate on riding the straightest line, and the other person can handle the marking, paperwork, and keeping an eye out for traffic. If these two measurements don’t agree to within about 4 feet (.08%) per mile, the measurer has to start all over.
(4) The course measurer repeats step (2), for a post-measurement calibration.
Steps 2, 3 and 4 have to be performed on the same day. Sunday morning is the most common time to do a measurement, because of the lower traffic volume.
(5) The course measurer then compares the pre-measurement calibration from (2) with the post-measurement calibration, and uses the least advantageous of the two. Depending on that result, the measurer may have to go back and make minor post-measurement adjustments to the length of the course. Note: a 1% error adds up to 328 feet over a 10K race course, so accuracy and attention to detail is mandatory.
(6) The course measurer then completes several pages of paperwork related to their measurement procedures and to the race course itself, draws a detailed map of the course, and submits those plus a $25 fee to the appropriate state certifier.
(7) If the state certifier approves the paperwork, then your race is assigned a certification number, and your course is then certified. Note: it is the state certifier that certifies your course, not the person who measured it.
Tell me more about calibration courses
We currently have two calibration courses: a 1000-foot one on Chestnut Street, alongside Finley Stadium (number TN03012RH) and a quarter-mile one on Glenn Kelly Road in Chickamauga Battlefield (number GA99016WC). Calibration courses have been measured with a steel tape, a minimum of two times.
How many of our race courses are certified?
This list may not be complete, but local certified courses include:
Chickamauga Chase 5K and 15K
Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon and 10-mile
Moccasin Bend 10K (Joe Johnson)
Komen Race for the Cure 5K
Symphony Classic 5K
The Wild Race 10K
Raccoon Mountain 10K
Chattanooga Chase 1-mile
YMCA International Run 8K
Certifications expire after 10 years, so this list does not include several of our older courses, such as the Scenic City Stride 8K. Any change to your race course that affects the distance also nullifies the course certification.
USA Track & Field Road Running Technical Council: Website at www.rrtc.net. From this site, a race director / measurer can download a “how to” manual and application forms, as well as find a comprehensive list of certified courses.
Local people with experience on measuring certified courses: Pat Hagan, Jerry McClanahan, David Presley, and Don Harvey. Pat and David both own Jones Counters.
State Certifiers: Always consult the up-to-date list at www.rrtc.net. However, at this 2005 writing, the Tennessee State Certifier is Dave Rogers in Kingsport, and the Georgia State Certifier is Woody Cornwell in Dalton.
State Records: State records are accessible via www.huntsvilletrackclub.org, under the “Links” section. The Tennessee State Record keeper is Buck Jones of Huntsville AL (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Georgia State Record keeper is Jim Dugger of Kingston, GA (JDDugger@aol.com)