In light of the Medtronic TC 1 Mile this Thursday, I went ahead and penned (keyed?) some of my favorite things about road racing. I ran my first professional road race last year, and I was stunned. I felt like it was my birthday the entire weekend, and it most definitely was not. Compared to track races, the hospitality aspect of road races is shocking and so appreciated.
I went into road racing with the expectation that it would closely resemble track racing, and I was quite surprised to be in the wrong. Interestingly enough, road miles even cater to different athletes than track miles for reasons I can’t entirely pin down. Road miles add a degree of uncertainty that isn’t a factor on a 400m track with plentiful splits.
For the most part, road races tend to pay athletes relatively well. Many of these events pay as deep as ten individuals, and this money really makes a difference for a new pro navigating the complex world of light sponsorship (or no sponsorship). Most prize money in track and field does not pay as deep – for new athletes struggling with finding support, prize money that pays out deeper to the field can be really encouraging.
Another pleasant surprise with the road-racing scene is that the event does not last all day. Unlike a never-ending track meet, these events are relatively finite and they do not run behind (or ahead of!) schedule. As someone that really appreciates timeliness, road races are efficient! Plus, there’s something about racing in the “streets” that sounds super tough.