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Bad ideas can suggest what to avoid

I have been collecting bad ideas lately, and it's been a particularly fruitful time for them. There are lessons to be learned from all of them.

Let's, then, examine some really bad brainstorms that have come up in the running business:

*Let good-sized intersections go unpatrolled during races. During the recent Beckley (West Virginia) Half-Marathon, a car reportedly went through a green light and went smack into Jason Pyles, the overall leader of the race at just past seven miles.

According to a story in the Charleston Gazette, the driver got out of the car to check on the runner, watched him run away, and drove off. Pyles went down again shortly after that.

The second-place runner at the time, Ryan Middleton, saw the leader fall and tended to him. Pyles was taken to the hospital for observation. He had a chipped tooth, scrapes and cuts, and injuries to his lower right leg.

Nick Lucento, who was third at the time of the accident, won the race. Lucento is in college, and donated the prize money to Pyles. Middleton was given a check equal to the second-place prize money.

Meanwhile, charges were not filed against the driver, and Pyles -- who is running again -- is said to be pondering his options. The legal implications are many.

What happened? Race organizers reportedly only had four county deputies at major intersections, and this wasn't one of them. There were no volunteers directing traffic there, either.

Local race official Tom Donnelly, who works on the Buffalo Marathon and the Turkey Trot, described this sort of incident as his worst nightmare.

"Safety is always on the top of my list," Donnelly said about his prerace preparations. "Every single time you put on a race, you always worry about the unexpected. One year at our marathon, an entire section of North Street was blocked off. Some woman backed out of a driveway into an area that was cordoned off, and she backed into a runner.

"If you can't put on a race safely, don't do it."

*Another Western New York marathon. There were rumors making the rounds this week about another marathon in Western New York. This was said to be planned for Orchard Park.

This would have been a really bad idea. The area has come together over the last few years to make the Memorial Day marathon in Buffalo a much better event. Having another race in Orchard Park would have left both races starving and probably out of business.

A few days ago, a few more details emerged. The planned race is only a half-marathon, and it will be about a month after the Memorial Day run.

That's better. Much better.

*World records for women's marathons now can only be set in female-only races. This rule was set down by the world's governing body for track and field. Just what was the I.A.A.F. thinking?

Supposedly, women who run alongside men -- as opposed to starting ahead of them -- get something of an advantage by having males as pace-setters. So, the record-keepers are going back to determine which existing races are "world's bests" as opposed to "world's records."

You'd think it would be easy to determine who ran 26 miles and 385 yards in the fastest time ever. Apparently not.

*Buy cheap shirts for your event. Consider this a tip for local race officials. I received a T-shirt at a race in August. I have many T-shirts that I tend to rotate through, so none get overused. Last week, I looked at the two-month old shirt and the sleeves were tearing. Into the trash bin it went.

I always think of the T-shirt as advertising for the race and for the charity. Anytime a runner wears it again, it's a reminder to all those who see him. But it's a little tough to read the lettering when it's in a landfill.

I know races try to cut corners whenever possible because of costs. Still, if an extra dollar per T-shirt buys a better quality product that will last noticeably longer and spread the word that much more, it sounds like a good investment to me.


Race calendar

*Making Tracks for Families 5K, 2909 South Park Ave. in Lackawanna, 10 a.m. today, 858-2671.

*Joe's 5K, 2909 Transit Road in Newfane, 10 a.m. Saturday, 778-4603.

*UAW Veterans Appreciation 5K, 524 Walnut St. in Lockport, 12 noon Saturday, 433-6747 x26.

*Bob Ivory Run (News Runner of the Year race), 5K, 845 Kenmore Ave. in Town of Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Nov. 6, 270-4113.

*Lindsay's Legacy Run, 5K, Clinton Park in Tonawanda, 11 a.m. on Nov. 12, 695-7406.

*Thanks Running 5K, Lakeview Cemetery in Jamestown, 9 a.m. on Nov. 13, 969-8520.