Internet results are forever…but only if they’re published

The Edinburgh Marathon Festival has been slammed this week after refusing to publish a complete list of results for any of the events held over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

Why?  They claim:

“All your personal data and information, including your running times, are treated with great respect. As such your result information is exclusively available to you…They are your results and times.” 

Not even Power of 10 or Run Britain, websites which allow you to compare your performances against others, had access to results meaning athletes couldn’t record their performances.  Bloody annoying if you ran well.

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And what about those who wanted to use Edinburgh as a qualifying race for another event?  How can you prove you’re a Boston Qualifier or London GFA if results aren’t readily available?  It seems almost ludicrous in this day and age.

This isn’t the first time this has happened – Bournemouth Marathon Festival did the same thing when they launched last October…and they’re organised by the same people.

Following an angry backlash, EMF have since updated their website giving athletes the option to ‘choose’ to publish their own results…but they still haven’t backed down on publishing the full results.

Whilst there are strong views surrounding this decision, as well as failing to meet IAAF guidelines (of which the IAAF Bronze Road Race label is proudly displayed on the EMF website), it does raise an interesting debate.  Should your race time, splits and finish position be made available online for the world to see?  Possibly forever…?

Of course, before the days of the world wide web (say what???) etching results into history forever wasn’t an option – when my Dad ran the Southampton Marathon many (many) years ago the results were published in the local paper, not national, and a results list was sent out to competitors through the post.  I believe this was common practice, but these results are unlikely to still be available.

However, it’s now 2014 and, not only is there a certain expectation as part of the race package, but it’s an IAAF requirement that full results are made public on the event website:

3.12.2 Official Results for all participants should be made available on the race’s website within the shortest possible time. 

Source: IAAF Road Race Label Regulations 2014

There’s nothing a runner loves more than running stats – our little eyes light up gleefully when we’re presented with the latest race results showing our splits and finish position – how did our friends do and other people in our category?  Did the heat slow everyone down or was it just me that suffered?

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Geeky?  Yep, but it’s difficult to fully assess your performance without knowing how others of similar ability ran on the day.  So when there are no results available to geek over…

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So, what possible, logical reason could EMF have for making a decision they knew would anger the very same people they want to come back next year??  Money

Perhaps it’s not protecting the data of competitors the organisers are concerned about, but protecting the data of their event – an event that has arguably seen decreasing numbers year on year (I tried to find evidence to support this but, interestingly, could not find any comprehensive historical results either…)

Besides entry fees, races, especially big races, make a huge amount of money from sponsorships.  But sponsors want to reach guaranteed numbers of relevant people in return for their investment and they want to know what that reach is.  EMF have already seen Asics and Lucozade Sport walk.  How can you protect existing, and future, partnerships, and this vital revenue stream, when numbers are dwindling?  Don’t publish those numbers.

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Cynical? Perhaps, but it makes perfect sense in a commercial world and, at the end of the day, EMF is a business and they need to make a profit.  It’s certainly a better theory than data privacy – especially when Marathon Photos offer an option to include your race time on your photo…which is available to preview…publicly.

There’s no denying that refusing to publish race results is a controversial decision.  The orgainsers prerogative?  Data privacy?  Or a bloody stupid idea driven by fear and greed?  I don’t know what EMF’s reasons are, but I do know the advertising industry inside out…and there’s only one theory that’s convinced me so far.

Jason Henderson – Athletics Weekly Editor

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3 thoughts on “Internet results are forever…but only if they’re published

  1. WHAT?! I have never heard of that. Ever. So did everyone run “unofficially?” New York Marathon results are printed in the New York Times the morning after if you finish under 4:30. And are available online almost instantly upon finishing. I can’t even imagine the NY RIOT that would ensue had this happened. It would be epic. Total Death Match. 🙂

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