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

What are Verification and Validation?

This is done when one needs to have their course checked after a record has been set (Post Validation) or if the race requests it to be done before their race takes place (PreValidation). Note: American records cannot be ratified without a course validation. In all cases, the course must already be certified before it can be validated. The first step in arranging for any validation, Pre or Post, should always be to contact the RRTC Validation Chair or the RRTC Chairperson. These two individuals will appoint a measurer to conduct the validation (the race cannot pick their own validator!). The selected Validator will be a measurer with IAAF ‘A’ or ‘B’ status if possible, or otherwise the most experienced road course measurer available. The process of a Validation is different than Certification and the differences are generally explained below. Pre-validation expenses will be paid by the race within reason, whereas Post-validation expenses are paid by USATF/RRTC.

Post validation doesn’t always require remeasuring the course. USATF Rule 265.3 states:

A post validation may require a remeasurement if the original measurement has not met the criteria established by the Validation Chair, approved by the executive committee of the RRTC, and publicly available on the USATF website.

The following criteria may allow dispensing with remeasurement:

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.

For validations that include course measurement, the following guidelines apply.

Guidelines for Pre-race & Post-race Validation Measurements:

  1. Pre-measurement and Post-measurement calibrations: The average of the pre-ride and post-ride calibration values is used for determining the measured course distance.
    • Note: The average constant is always used in calculating results of validation measurements. In ordinary certification measurements, either the average or larger constant may be used.
    • Note 2: The validator should always do a measurement of the calibration course used for the validation, and the validator’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 validated.
  2. 1.001 SCPF (Short Course Prevention Factor): The SCPF is not used in calculating the results of validation measurements. In a validation, 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 validator would find a length of 10,010 meters.
  3. Riding the course for Pre or Post Validation: Only one ride of the race course is recommended in a validation situation. The validator must familiarize himself/herself with the course before conducting the re-measurement. If problems occur, causing the validator 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 validator firmly believes he/she measured something wrong (see #6 and #7 below for more on interpreting the results of a validation).
  4. Shortest Possible Route: This is probably the most difficult part of conducting a validation re-measurement. The validator 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. Here, the important point is determining the course as 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 validator 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 validator confidence that he has ridden the correct path.
  5. Reporting: In addition to completing a Validation Report form, the validator must provide a “narrative” of the validation. This can be short and sweet or as detailed as the validator’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, how the validator determined the course available to runners and, of course, any quirks or problems encountered. Here, the validator can comment on the course in general. A recommendation as to the record worthiness of the marks from this race is necessary. Some courses have “passed” validation 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 validation, the course passes if the validator’s measurement finds it to be at least the nominal distance; it fails if the validator’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 validator ought to find the nominal distance plus SCPF. For example, in checking a 10 km course, the validator should find 10,010 meters. If the validator finds less than 10,000 meters, the course Fails.
    • Note: If the original measurements for certification were done by two measurers who have IAAF Grade A or Grade B status, and if those measurers used standard certification procedures including the SCPF, the course may be considered pre-validated. For such pre-validation status to apply, a report of the original certification measurements must be filed with the RRTC Validation Chair including all data related to the measurements along with a narrative and map.
  7. Consequences of Passing or Failing Validation:
    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 validation 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 validation.
    If the Course Fails: If it’s a post-race validation, then any pending records that prompted the validation will be rejected. If it’s either a pre-race validation or a post-race validation in which the course being validated matched the course originally certified, the original certification is nullified. To obtain a new certification, the validator’s measurement may be used as one of the required measurements, but at least one additional measurement, by either the validator or some other person, is required. Since these measurements will then be considered as part of a certification process, the SCPF must be used. Following a re-certification done this way (using the validator’s ride as one of the measurements), the course will be considered pre-validated.

Some answers to common questions:

What about expenses? The validator’s expenses are covered by USATF for post validations. The validator 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. Validators should call the RRTC Chairperson for details if either of these circumstances applies. Expenses and receipts should be included with the validation report, or in advance in cases such as when air fares are paid in advance of the validation trip.

Also in post validations, validators 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 validation, or if any problems arise in connection with a validation, feel free to call Gene Newman (RRTC Chair) or Neville Wood (Validation Chair):

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