Too old to win anymore? Here’s one race that levels the playing field for veteran runners.
The Buzz Oates No Excuses 5k in Sacramento, California, is the brainchild of Rich Hanna of Capital Road Race Management. Some of you may recognize Rich as a great but unheralded ultramarathoner. He won a silver medal at the World 100k in 2001, and he’s still formidable at age 43. Last March, he won the Bidwell Classic Half Marathon, then went out the next week and placed fifth in the Way Too Cool 50k with a time of 3:39 (for comparison, ultra legend Tim Twietmeyer finished 50th in the same race).
Rich’s No Excuses race automatically adjusts each runner’s chip time for age and sex. For example, the time of a male runner aged 22-29 would receive no adjustment, but a 76-year-old woman would have her time reduced by 15:09. The race website has a page that explains how the handicap is computed for each age.
You don’t have to understand the system to enjoy the results. A large-screen TV is placed at the finish line so runners can see how their age-adjusted time has moved them up or down in the rankings. First place, or any other place, can change well after the first runner has crossed the finish line. This year a 17-year-old male was the first to finish, but he ultimately ended up in 10th. The age-adjusted winner was a 68-year-old woman who ran a 23:11. You can compare the raw results here with the age-adjusted results here.
There are no age group awards. Instead, the top 50 age-adjusted finishers receive a plaque. As the race goes on, the runner currently in 50th place is sent to sit in the Buzz Oates Hot Seat, which is a comfy recliner donated by a local store. As more people finish, the person in 50th changes, and is sent to the hot seat. Whoever ends up in 50th place when the race is over wins the recliner!
If you’re not lucky enough to win an award or a recliner, at least everyone goes home with a prized No Excuses t-shirt. On the back it reads:
“Why I Didn’t Win the Buzz Oates No Excuses 5k – Check all that apply” then lists various excuses, including:
- I didn’t want to give anyone low self-esteem.
- Global warming.
- I can hide, but I can’t run.
- Too many slow-twitch muscles.
- Galloway method didn’t work.
The age-grading didn’t do me much good. It pushed me in front of 24 runners, but it pushed 49 other runners in front of me. The beauty of the race is you only have to get older to improve your time. That I can handle.