We apparently struck a nerve.
Our opinion post suggesting the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon move its event back two weeks to make marathoner-friendly weather a more likely occurrence prompted more comments than any other item we’ve posted. Our Down the Backstretch poll asking readers when in October they would schedule TCM gathered more votes than any other poll we’ve ever conducted. Weather and TCM seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days, not surprisingly.
In our admittedly unscientific poll, a total of 107 people voted. A plurality of 45% of those voters thought the race should be held the third weekend of October. 81% of all voters preferred a date later than TCM’s traditional first-weekend-in-October spot on the calendar.
The comments on the editorial reflected the poll voting. They also brought Grandma’s Marathon into the discussion. Although we didn’t mention the mid-June race in the post about moving Twin Cities, readers made the connection immediately.
A reader named “dd,” who was typical of the sentiments, said: “I would be even more in favor of moving Grandma's to late May -- I think the chances of heat and humidity are getting far too good (that is, bad!) in mid-late June. People are going to start avoiding these, especially the sub-elite range that makes a race a good one for people looking for qualifiers, etc.”
Despite Grandma’s location on Lake Superior next to all that cold water, there is a disconcerting temperature trend there too. In the last five years (2003-2007), Grandma’s start-time temperatures have averaged 59.6 degrees, according to the event’s media guide. The average temperature for the event in the 20 years previous to that (1983-2002) was 51.9. It is true that some of the hottest Grandma’s were in the first years of the event – 1977 to 1982 -- but the event was also held later in the month in its earliest years of existence.
With many of the same caveats I noted in my TCM piece – that big events are scheduled well into the future, that many factors go into to choosing the best date for an event, that traditions do matter, that events must be mindful of other activities on the calendar (Memorial Day and graduations come to mind in this case), that despite what we know is a changing climate the recent warm race-days may be attributed more to blips in the weather rather than deeper factors – I’d prefer an earlier-in-the-year Grandma’s
My bottom line is to have marathoners race on what is likely to be the best weather-day of the season. Recent trends at Grandma’s -- and globally – suggest late May or early in June would put people in better weather when the gun fires.
If I was an athlete training for the race of my life next spring, I’d be worrying about the weather once the calendar flipped to June … and each and every day after that.
What do you think? Let us know on the DtB poll or with a comment below ...