2013 Zooma Half and 10K in Annapolis Suffers Major Mishaps

Founder Brae Blackley says one mishap caused a cascade of breakdowns during the race.

By: Melissa Romero

The seventh annual Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon and 10K on Saturday suffered due to 80-plus-degree weather and significant mishaps that left runners hot and bothered.

Just hours after Saturday’s morning race, runners took to Zooma’s Facebook page to complain about being misdirected on the course, lack of volunteers at aid stations, and missing out on free post-race yoga and massages due to long lines.

Perhaps the biggest issue, however, was that both the half marathon and 10K courses were short by a quarter mile. Mid-race, Zooma founder Brae Blackley was informed by volunteers that runners weren’t able to make a turn down to City Dock due to a parked police car. The organizers wrote on their Facebook page, “Runners, we are aware that due to misdirection on the course both the half marathon and 10K are about .25 miles short today. We know this is frustrating, and we are so sorry this happened.”

“The course could have been marked better,” Blackley told Well+Being. “And one of the city police officers was misinformed about the turn on the course and parked his cruiser on it. By the time we were made aware of it, [runners] couldn’t turn, and he wouldn’t move it.”

The shorter distances later caused a problem with Zooma’s Personal Best program, which awards a medal to first-timers and those who run a personal best in either distance. “Our challenge was if we give a medal to everyone, we’ll run out,” Blackley says. “And giving a medal that says ‘PR’ on it—well, nobody really PR’d.”

Zooma eventually decided to give a medal to all first-timers, but not to people who ran a personal best. “In retrospect, it was not the right move,” says Blackley. “I still think it was a rational decision, but folks got very emotional about not getting a medal.”

Organizers then reversed their decision and gave medals to everyone who wanted one. They also announced they’ll mail medals to anyone who didn’t receive one post-race due to long lines. All runners received a necklace and a goodie bag with a yoga mat.

Lack of volunteers and aid stations was also a complaint among runners, although Brackley noted that one of the nine aid stations got missed in the blocked turnoff. In addition, a volunteer group reported to the wrong aid station, leaving another station unmanned.

Blackley says she and her three-person team will be meeting with Annapolis police and Corrigan Sports Enterprises, which helped design the race course, in the next few weeks to find out “where the exact breakdown happened.”

“We’re sorry that people had a less than perfect race experience,” she says. “We don’t want to take away from the fact that a lot of people had a great time and accomplished something really great on race day. With any feedback we get, we always take it to heart. There are a lot of moving parts on race day, and we hope people can understand that we are focused on making our race the best it can be. We’ll do everything we can to correct any hiccups to make next year’s perfect.”

The Zooma Women’s Race Series is based in Falls Church and hosts women-centric races in Maryland, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois. The next race is August 10 in Chicago.