Please don’t steal my finish

In my opinion, the best part of any race be it a run, a triathlon or a cyclocross race, is the finish.

It’s not about the race being over. Instead it’s about the moment I see the finish and dig deep, push hard and heave myself over the line. Regardless of placement, it’s a moment of victory. A moment when a challenge accepted is completed  (sometimes well, sometimes not). A moment of celebration with my family, friends and fellow racers.

And it’s a moment that, too often, is stolen from me and my fellow Category 4 (beginner) cyclocross racers.

While the kids watch, I’m told there are three laps to go.

For those not familiar with the situation, in cyclocross we race for a pre-determined amount of time. During the first lap, those coming across the line in front determine the number of laps to be completed. If you are passed by a leader, you finish your race on the same lap as the leaders.

Often we Cat 4 racers are racing with those in Cat 1, 2 or 3, meaning there is a very high probability we (I) will be lapped, and forced to end our race early.

Got that?

The system is not the problem. As a Cat 4 racer, I understand and accept the rules. The problem is when the officials don’t follow the rules, or change the plan halfway through a race.

For example, at today’s race we were told that no one would be pulled, which means (to me), that as long as I wasn’t passed, I would be expected to complete the same number of laps as the leaders.

So that was my goal – don’t be lapped.

Approaching the finish line after four laps, I was thrilled to have met my goal and was gearing up for one more lap. I didn’t sprint to the finish because I was conserving my energy for the final pull. Unfortunately, the race officials had a different plan, informing me as I crossed the line that I was done.

And in that moment, they stole my finish. What should have ended with a bang instead went out with a whimper. And the confused question – “am I done?”

Ending a race like this is unsatisfying. Frustrating. Unfortunate. And a regular occurrence for Cat 4 women races.

This doesn’t happen in any other type of race I do. And, it’s been noted by many, that it doesn’t happen in other categories. But it happens to the beginner women. To the people, I assume given the room within our races, we are looking to to help build the sport.

I’m sure the officials and race organizers don’t mean to “steal” my race finish – but ultimately, through their actions that is exactly what they do.

And did again today.

3 thoughts on “Please don’t steal my finish

  1. Frustrating that the officials were so concerned about keeping to a schedule and not ( as they should be) working with us, the race organizers to everyone, especially the lower categories, a great and safe racing experience.

    Sadly for promoters, once the start whistle is blown, the race is out of our hands and in control of the officials.


    1. Russ – I absolutely put this at the feet of the cycling officials. I mention the race organizers only because, I assume, you and others have the opportunity for in depth conversation post (and pre) race about the unintended consequences of their decisions (or, in the case of yesterday’s race, their indecision).

      As I replied to you on Facebook, The issue for me is not that I was pulled – I actually expected that. The issue is that race officials told us one thing, and then did another. This confusion was reflected not just in what spectators heard during the race, but also in the race results which, as I’m sure you know, were a mess. If all the race officials had been on the same page AND we had been told we would be pulled as the race approached 45 minutes (even if we were not lapped), I think the outcome would have been much different.


  2. At last year’s Providence, officials pulled racers early (and with no need) from the Men’s Cat 4/5 event (I was in the 40+ field that followed–no one was pulled from our race).

    In my opinion, they should never pull from a 4/5 race–the stakes simply aren’t high enough. On the women’s side, the relatively smaller number of racers often means the combining of the Pro/1/2/3 and Cat 4 fields, unfortunately, but it would be better to have the elite racers aiming for the podium fight through a bit of extra traffic than cut the race short for other riders.


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