USA Track and Field Minnesota officials recently announced the details for the 2008 Team Circuit. Next year's race schedule and some rule changes came after a meeting of Team Circuit "stakeholders" last week. DtB talked to USATF-Minnesota Long Distance Running Chair Ed Whetham about the meeting and the 2008 Circuit.
DtB: What kind of turn-out did the Team Circuit meeting have?
Whetham: 24 people attended the meeting last week. Mostly USATF registered team representatives, USATF MN chairholders and a few race directors.
DtB: Can you tell us what prompted the change in the scoring system for the Team Circuit? What are the implications of the new method?
Whetham: The scoring system change occurred because of lack of team participation at a few of the races. Under the old scoring system the points were awarded based on the number of complete teams that showed up at each race. The one example that was used at the meeting, was that of the Rice Street Mile, where only one open women's team fielded a complete team. The new system will give a guaranteed number of points per race based on the number of teams that are registered for long distance running through USATF Minnesota.
The best example is to use Rice Street Mile again. Instead of awarding the only complete women's team 2 points this year, we will award the team 10 points, because 10 teams have registered teams with USATF. This change in the scoring is to encourage teams to compete and participate in each team race. The scoring system is still being worked out, but will model points given based on teams registered with USATF.
DtB: What prompted the removal of the marathon distance from the Circuit?
Whetham: There have been arguments both ways on whether to keep or remove the marathon from the team circuit. We decided to open the floor for discussion and then have a vote on whether we keep the marathon for 2008. It was the closest vote of the night, with the vote going 12-10 in favor of removing the marathon for 2008. There will be a vote at next year's meeting regarding the marathon for 2009.
DtB: Were there any other major issues discussed?
Whetham: The major issue of the night was the fate of the marathon on the Team Circuit for 2008. The other issue that was addressed during the meeting was to keep the cross-country circuit separate from the road racing circuit. The other close votes included which half-marathon was accepted at the USATF MN Championship Race and whether to include the 5000 meter track race.
DtB: How will the track 5000 meter race work? Will there need to be sections based on seed time to accommodate all the Team Circuit participants?
Whetham: We will discuss how the track 5000 is going to work at future USATF MN monthly meetings. We will more than likely have at least two sections, men's and women's, and depending on the number of entries it may be split into different sections. I would be in favor of seeing an open and masters section. The scoring will be the same for the track 5000 as it would be for a road 5k.
What do you think of the new Team Circuit rules and schedule? Feel free to comment below and vote in our new poll.
Also, USATF-Minnesota LDR Chair Ed Whetham is interested in your thoughts as well. E-mail him at edwhetham [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.