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by Glenn Ribotsky

May 9, 2002 - While those at the paper and on the Memorial Day Run committee may never admit it, it seems that pressure put on the Staten Island Advance to live up to the policies and procedures for the race agreed to at the now famous Fall 2000 Triple Crown administration meeting has had some effect.

As many of you remember from my previous piece, one agreement that came out of that meeting was that race day registration for all three races in the Triple Crown Series should be allowed, that it should be clearly stated on the application that it was allowed, and that runners could also designate a team entry on a race day registration. Despite this agreement, at last year's Memorial Day Run, it was discovered that the race day registration desk was not taking team designations; I and several local club officials immediately reminded those at the desk and the race's scorer, Elite Racing Systems, of what had been agreed to, and team designations then started to be taken. It was felt that this lapse would be one of the issues that would be discussed at the planned "post Triple Crown" meeting-a meeting that never occurred.

Then, when this year's Memorial Day application was released, the wording on it indicted that "final team registration" would be on Saturday May 25th. This implied no team registration on race day, and again was in violation of the agreement. Since Triple Crown coordinator Jack Minogue was listed as the individual to contact regarding team registration questions-and since he had been the one to coordinate the post Triple Crown meeting that never happened-I immediately encouraged all who might be wondering why the Advance could not live up to what had been agreed to call/e-mail him and race director Bob Palisay. Jack, as usual, did not return messages. But apparently, some of the anger got through, because the application format in the paper began to change. First, last week, a modified and shortened application appeared in the Advance, which did not discuss team registration (and no longer included Jack's phone number). Then, starting with this Sunday, a different team registration information box appeared, indicating (in tiny print, but it was there) that team registration on race day could occur from 7 to 8 AM at the special team registration desk, to be manned by Jack Minogue.

This seems to indicate that the Advance can be move if enough pressure is put on them-or they fear enough bad publicity. I have no idea how many people attempted to call or e-mail the race principals, but I imagine, from people who spoke with me/forwarded e-mails to me, it was considerable. (Some forwarded e-mails, such as one sent to Jack from Daniel Gussman of Brooklyn Road Runners Club, indicated that if this situation was not resolved, his team members would boycott-perhaps that is what it takes.) At any rate, it was good to see the Advance respond, however begrudgingly.

On an additional note, I myself finally got a hold of Bob Palisay today, and had a wide-ranging conversation. Bob tried to indicate at first that since he had not been a party to the original meeting and agreements-he became race director in 2001-that he was not bound by any of the agreements made there. I of course told him it seemed ridiculous to hold to that position in the face of some much runner dissatisfaction. He also tried to argue that the lack of desire to deal with ream registration on race day was a manpower/volunteer problem; I not only indicated that that seemed absurd, since all data and scoring is now computerized, but I volunteered to have myself and other NYRROA people at registration on race day if that would help alleviate the lack of knowledgeable volunteers to handle this detail. (NYRROA, of course, has decades of race experience among its members, and has worked with Elite Racing Systems before.) Bob said he had to check with Jack on that.

The most egregious argument put forward, though, was that the Advance considered this a local race, for Staten Islanders, and not an event where the competition and scoring and awards were really important. (The phrase he used was "a day for families".) Leaving aside the provincialism that exhibits for a moment, it seems here that no matter how the Advance views this event, and however little it cares about the competitive aspects of it, it still has a vested interest in making sure it is well-administered and that people leave it happy. Its practices of stonewalling inquiries and not responding to criticism certainly don't help its public relations and marketing efforts. Moreover, whether it's prime motivation is family fun or not, it remains that the Advance chooses to put on a road race, which, by definition, is a competitive athletic event. If it wanted to just have a community party, it could have a beach picnic, or a charity walk. As long as the Advance is putting on a race, it behooves it to ensure that it is well-organized, competitive, and that the concerns of the running community that will take part in it are addressed.

It remains to be seen if the Advance and the Memorial Day Race committee can internalize these concepts. Nevertheless, I want to thank everybody who was supportive in pressuring the Advance on these issues-and to remind them to continue to be watchful and willing to make noise, should it again be necessary.

--Glenn Ribotsky/NYRROA