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USATF Course Certification – Pre-race & Post-race Verification Guidelines

What are Verification and Validation?

Historical note: The meaning of these terms has changed in USATF. Until around 2011, USATF used the term “Validation” for a process that became known internationally as “Verification,” i.e., re-measurement of a course, after its initial certification, in situations involving records. USATF has now changed its terminology to match the international usage.

Thus, “Verification” refers to a re-measurement to check the length of a certified course. This may be done before or after (or even during) a race. The term “Validation” is still used, but refers only to other aspects of the record-approval process, especially, confirming that a race was run on the course as certified. The RRTC officer with responsibility for course verification and validation is still known as the “Validation Chair.

Verification and Validation are governed by USATF Rule 265.4. As amended in December 2013, this rule states requirements that courses must meet to be eligible for records as follows:

For road records:

  1. The course must not have a net decrease in elevation from start to finish exceeding 1 part per thousand (i.e., 1m per km).
  2. The start and finish of the race must lay no more than 50% of the race distance apart as measured along the straight line between them.
  3. For World and National Open Records, the course, measurement and verification shall comply with the provision of IAAF Rule 260.28.
  4. For all other records re-measurement may be required if the original measurement has not met criteria established by the RRTC validation chair, approved by the executive committee of the RRTC, and publicly available on the USATF website.

For reference, since this USATF rule isn’t self-contained but refers to an IAAF rule, the relevant portions of IAAF Rule 260.28 are:

IAAF Rule 260.28

  1. The course must be measured by one or more “A” or “B” grade IAAF/AIMS approved measurers.
  2. The start and finish points of a course, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance.
  3. The overall decrease in elevation between the start and finish shall not exceed 1:1000, i.e. 1m per km (0.1%).
  4. Any course measurer who originally measured the course or another “A” or “B” grade measurer in possession of the complete measurement data and maps must validate that the course measured was the course run, normally by riding in the lead vehicle.
  5. The course must be verified (i.e. re-measured) as late as possible before the race, on the day of the race or as soon as practical after the race, preferably by a different “A” grade measurer from any of those who did the original measurement.
    Note: If the course was originally measured by at least two “A” grade or one “A” and one “B” grade measurers, and at least one of them is present at the race to validate the course as per Rule 260.28(d), no verification (re-measurement) under this Rule 260.28(e) will be required.
  6. World Records in Road Running Events set at intermediate distances within a race must comply with the conditions set under Rule 260. The intermediate distances must have been measured and marked during the course measurement and must have been verified in accordance with Rule 260.28(e).

USATF Rule 265.4(c) specifies that for US Open National Records, courses must satisfy the same requirements as for Word Records. These requirements are governed entirely by the IAAF Rule. USATF Rule 265.4(d) states that for “other” US road records (such as age group records), remeasurement isn’t necessary if the original (certification) measurements meet certain criteria. These criteria are as follows:

Factors that May Allow Dispernsing With Remeasurement, for US Road Records that Aren’t World or National Open Records:
by Neville Wood, Validation Chair – 13 Feb 2009 (updated 18 Dec 2010)

  1. Reputation of measurer.
  2. Secondary measurer used in measurement.
  3. Performance of potential new-record holder in line with those in recent races.
  4. Significance of record; e.g., overall records are more important than age-group records.

When a verification re-measurement is to be performed, in either a pre-race or post-race situation, the first step in arranging it must always be to contact the RRTC Validation Chair or the RRTC Chairperson. Either of these two individuals will appoint a measurer (or measurers) to conduct the verification (the race cannot pick their own verifier).

Costs of a verification measurement:

  • For pre-race verifications, all costs must be paid by the event.
  • For post-race verifications, when required because of records, costs are paid by USATF/RRTC.

Pre-verification of USATF Championship Courses:

USATF policy requires courses for USATF Championship Races to be Pre-Verified. This means that any necessary re-measurement(s) must be carried out before the race so, if a World or US National Open Record is set in the race, it will not be necessary to re-measure the course after the race. To achieve this status, the following notes apply:

  • Note #1: If the original measurements for certification were performed by one IAAF “A” or “B” grade measurer, the course requires an additional (verification) measurement, to be performed before the race by a measurer selected by the RRTC Validation Chair or the RRTC Chairperson. The selected verifier will be an IAAF “A” measurer, different from the original measurer. Then, either the original measurer or the verifier must be present at the race to “validate” the course per IAAF Rule 260.28(d).
  • Note #2: If the original measurements for certification were performed by two IAAF “A” measurers, or by an IAAF “A” measurer and an IAAF “B” measurer, the course is already considered pre-verified per IAAF Rule 260.28(e), so no additional measurements are required; however, one of the original measurers must be on hand during the race to “validate” the course per IAAF Rule 260.28(d).
  • Note #3: If the original measurements for certification were performed by measurers who do not have IAAF “A” or “B” status, the course requires additional (verification) measurements, to be performed before the race by two measurers selected by the RRTC Validation Chair or the RRTC Chairperson. The selected verifiers will either both be IAAF “A” measurers, or one will be an IAAF “A” measurer and the other an IAAF “B” measurer. Then, one of the verifiers will need to be present at the race to “validate” the course per IAAF Rule 260.28(d).
  • Note #4: As in any pre-race verification situation, all costs are the responsibility of the event.

Guidelines for Pre-race and Post-race Verification Measurements:

  1. Pre-measurement and Post-measurement calibrations: The average of the pre-measurement and post-measurement calibration values is used for determining the measured course distance.
    • Note #1: The average constant is always used in calculating results of verification measurements. In ordinary certification measurements, either the average or larger constant may be used.
    • Note #2: The verifier should always do a measurement of the calibration course used for the verification, and the verifier’s own measurement (not the cal course’s certified length if it’s a previously certified cal course) should be used in calculating the length of the race course being verified.
  2. 1.001 SCPF (Short Course Prevention Factor): The SCPF is not used in calculating the results of verification measurements. In a verification, we are always checking a course that has already been certified, so the SCPF should have been included during the original certification. For example, a 10 km course should have been laid out during the original certification as 10,010 meters (including SCPF); thus, in an ideal (error-free) world, the verifier would find a length of 10,010 meters.
  3. Riding the course for Pre or Post Verification: Only one ride of the race course is recommended in a verification situation. The verifier must familiarize himself/herself with the course before conducting the re-measurement. If problems occur, causing the verifier to feel that his/her first ride was flawed, this needs to be described in the narrative report. Subsequent rides of the course should be avoided if at all possible. A course that comes up short on the first ride is NOT a candidate for a second chance unless the verifier firmly believes he/she measured something wrong (see #6 and #7 below for more on interpreting the results of a verification).
  4. Shortest Possible Route: This is probably the most difficult part of conducting a verification re-measurement. The verifier must locate all important points along the course, such as the Start, Finish, etc. Do they match the certification map? Similarly, all course restrictions such as turn-arounds, restricted lanes of traffic, etc. must be determined. If doing a post-race verification, the important point is to determine the course that was actually available to the runners during the race. “Available” is not always the same as shown on the map or even as included in runners’ packets. The verifier needs to ride 30 centimeters (as precisely as possible, no more, no less) from road edges and curbs. One measurer marks turns with chalk prior to riding, in order to maintain the correct 30 cm offsets. This may be extreme, especially on long twisting courses, but it gives that verifier confidence that he has ridden the correct path.
  5. Reporting: In addition to completing a Verification Report form, the verifier must provide a “narrative” of the verification. This can be short and sweet or as detailed as the verifier’s writing style prefers. Necessary information to be included is a general discussion of the re-measurement, who if anyone assisted and in what capacity, any quirks or problems encountered, and, if it's a post-race verification, how the verifier determined the course that was available to runners. Also, for a post-race verification, the report must include a recommendation as to the record-worthiness of the marks from this race. Some courses have “passed” verification based on checking the course as originally certified but marks were not ratified because the race didn’t follow the course as it was originally certified and shown on the map.
  6. Results: In either a pre-race or post-race verification, the course passes if the verifier’s measurement finds it to be at least the nominal distance; it fails if the verifier’s measurement finds it to be less than the nominal distance. Remember that the original certification measurements will have included the SCPF. Therefore, in a perfect world, the verifier ought to find the nominal distance plus SCPF. For example, in checking a 10 km course, the verifier should find 10,010 meters. If the verifier finds less than 10,000 meters, the course Fails.
  7. Consequences of Passing or Failing Verification:
    If the Course Passes: The course will be regarded as having the correct length for record purposes, meaning that records can be accepted if the course is used as measured in the verification and if all other requirements for a record performance are satisfied. No further adjustment to the course is required, and in particular, the course should not be shortened. Any shortening of the course would require a new certification and would lose its status of having passed verification.
    If the Course Fails: If it’s a post-race verification, then any pending records that prompted the verification will be rejected. If it’s either a pre-race verification or a post-race verification in which the course being verified matched the course originally certified, the original certification is nullified. To obtain a new certification, the verifier’s measurement may be used as one of the required measurements, but at least one additional measurement, by either the verifier or some other person, is required. Since these measurements will then be considered as part of a certification process, the SCPF must be used. In pre-race verifications, it can be helpful to have two verifiers, to assure that the course can be recertified in case the verification finds the original course to be short. (Note that in measurements to pre-verify a course for a US Championship race when the original measurer(s) did not have IAAF “A” or “B” status, there should always be two verifiers.)

Some answers to common questions:

What about expenses? The verifier’s expenses are covered by USATF for post-race verifications. The verifier should keep receipts for motels, meals, postage, cab fares, air fares, etc. Include postage and long distance telephone charges (estimates are OK rather than waiting for a phone bill). Also keep track of personal car mileage, which will be reimbursed at the rate allowed by USATF. If hotel costs are more than $65 per night, the hotel reservations must be made by the USATF Travel Office. Any airline reservations must also be made by the USATF Travel Office. Verifiers should call the RRTC Chairperson for details if either of these circumstances applies. Expenses and receipts should be included with the verification report, or in advance in cases such as when air fares are paid in advance of the verification trip.

Also in post-race verifications, verifiers are compensated for their measurements according to the following fee schedule:

  1. $100 for all races less than or equal to 12 km
  2. $150 for all races more than 12 km up to and including 21.0975 km
  3. $200 for all races more than 21.0975 km

To arrange for a verification, or if any problems arise in connection with a verification, feel free to call Gene Newman (RRTC Chair) or Neville Wood (Validation Chair):

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