Friday, 3 May 2013

The Strange Tale of the Great Race-Number Cock-Up!

The race number that launched a thousand quips . . . .   

WHAT’S the daftest thing you’ve ever done with a race number?

Whatever your guilty secret, you’d have to go some to match the true confession I heard this week. It involves a runner who went into panic mode when the race number for his debut half-marathon plopped on to his doormat Wednesday morning.

After ripping open the envelope, our hero (who calls himself ‘Ant Knee’) was baffled by what he saw. He immediately logged on to an internet forum to get advice.  Runners are known to be a helpful and friendly lot, and he got a big response. Here’s the edited highlights:    

ANT KNEE: “I'm running my first half-marathon on Sunday. I received a letter today containing a piece of paper on which I have to fill in my personal details. I’m guessing that under some foam on the paper there is the micro-chip, as it says on the strip of foam ‘Do Not Remove’. But there is no race number. So will I get my race number on the day? And what is this piece of paper?”

COUGIE: “What's on the other side of the paper? Is there by any chance a number? Because that sounds an awful lot like a race number to me! If it’s blank take a magic marker to it. They usually put your race number online or on the envelope.”

THE DUKE ABIDES: “I'd love not to have a race number. Annoying, fiddly beasts. It’s one of the reasons I love Parkrun!”

ANT KNEE: “There’s no visible race number anywhere. I now see there are two strips of foam, both saying ‘Do Not Remove’. So I’m guessing it’s under one of those. I guess I'll be given the race number on the day? Will I have to buy some safety pins or do you think I'll be given some?”

MEDIVALERT: “The pieces of foam sounds very much like the timing chip I had on the back of my Reading Half-Marathon race number, so I definitely wouldn't take them off . . ."

STUTYR: “It does sound like the race number with the chip embedded in it. Most races use a separate plastic chip that goes on your shoe, but I did a race recently that had something similar to what you describe. Is the other side of the personal details sheet blank, or does it have some markings on it?  It’s possible it went through the production process and missed the printing of the number?”

COUGIE: “The sheet with the personal details and chip attached to it with foam will definitely be your number. If it’s not printed on the flip-side they've messed up. Ring them.”

ANT KNEE: “The other side of the paper says Lichfield Half-Marathon then there are four downward lines underneath. I reckon the lines are my number which hasn't printed properly. I have now phoned the race organiser and he asked me to send him a picture of it via text. Not sure how many others have been affected like this. Will have to see what he says.”

ANT KNEE: “OK! Mystery solved! I'm a bit red in the face. The race organiser came back and said he wouldn’t embarrass me further, and told me my race number is 1111. LOL! I can be such a plank!”

CALUM CRIGHTON: “Ha ha – brilliant!  I was going to suggest it was 1111 . . .”

PUDGE: “Priceless! Good luck in your race, Ant.”

DAVID FALCONER: “To be fair it does look like a bar code . . . I remember being taught in primary school to always do a ‘1’ with a little line underneath and the diagonal line at the top for this very reason. Tell ‘em to use a different font next time!”

ANT KNEE: “Ah well, at least I now I’ll always have an amusing story to tell regarding this race!”

The above exchange caught the imagination of internet browsers everywhere and the story appears to have ‘gone viral’ as they say. The fact that ‘Ant Knee’ came clean and laughed at himself meant messages were virtually all sympathetic and everybody wished the poor stressed chap well in his first half-marathon. Rarely can an unknown runner have received so many ‘good luck’ messages from strangers.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t get confused when he reaches the roadside 11-mile marker on the big day!

* * * 
Rob Hadgraft’s five published books on running (plus 11 others on football) are now also available as e-books for Kindle at just £4.99 each.   Use this link:   Rob Hadgraft's running books on Amazon  or, alternatively:   www.robhadgraft.com  

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