Ok, I’ll try to share this experience without sounding like I’m complaining. Go back and read my recap of the Happy Camper Fun Run, first.

I share this post because I’m looking for some clarification. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. I’m not blaming the runners or judging their abilities. Lots of people were confused by course markings that day. But it would help to hear how others would approach this situation in a trail or ultramarathon.

Happy Camper Fun Run Westminster Trail

Confusion on the last loop?

On the second loop of the Happy Camper Fun Run North section, I checked into the aid station prior to the first loop of the section. The crew said I was the fourth runner to come through – two hundred millers and 1 in the 50-mile competition. I thought, Wow! I need to slow down if this was intended to be a training run. So I took my time and enjoyed the loop.

As I came into the aid station prior to the second and final loop of the course, the crew was surprised to see me and asked where the other runner was. Apparently, the runner who had checked in before me on the earlier stop hadn’t come in yet. I hadn’t seen him, so conclusions were that he must have gone off course ~2 miles prior to the aid station. The first and second loops came close to intersecting and it was easy to cross over and go off course without checking into the final aid station.

Wow. First place with 6 miles to go. I hadn’t prepared for that! So as I approached the final miles, I was happy with my day and thrilled with placing. And I got passed by the winner of the women’s 50-miler in the final mile. I wasn’t even mad. You go, girl! She was in good spirits and running strong.

When we both crossed the finish line within seconds of each other, I was caught off guard. The volunteers handed me a medal and congratulated me on finishing FOURTH. I was thankful but confused. As was the gal who I finished with. I asked them to confirm – are you sure?!

Sorting the rules on finishers?

Turns out the guy who was awarded first place in the 50-mile race was entered in the 100-miler and decided to drop at 50-miles. That explains one finisher, but it sure as hell didn’t sound right that he was still eligible for top placing after dropping from his original race. Whatever.

The guy who was awarded second turned out to be the guy who started the North section ahead of me but had not checked into the final aid station. I asked them to clarify my confusion and confirmed that the aid station crew had said I was the first 50-miler to check in on the final loop. So he had cut course and come in ahead of me and was awarded second overall.

It’s not that big of a deal – but it still bothers me that I could have finished first in the men’s race. I’d offer up my GPS file to confirm that I stayed on course all day and ran the complete 52 miles.

Happy Camper Fun Run Again?

At the end of the day, I know that I got my miles. That’s exactly what I went into the day intending to do. But I can guarantee that it’ll be in the back of my mind next time I see a race with this race director at the helm.

This is a discussion that’s on-going in the running community. The 2019 Georgia Death Race is a recent example that sparked much conversation on LetsRun forums and on several podcasts and blogs. Obviously, there were no high stakes at this run, but it was still a lot of work put into the miles.

People who drop from their registered race shouldn’t place in a shorter distance. And you have to stay on course and make the aid station check-ins in order to finish a race. It’s disappointing the results left a sour taste in my mouth after what was an otherwise excellent day at the Happy Camper Fun Run.

Live to run another day.

Like what you see here? Sign up for my newsletter to be notified of future stories and weekly headlines. Click here to sign up.