I made a post about the cut-off times of running events in my post in this blog on May 17, 2011. Until this time, I don’t see any reason why Race Organizers/Directors had to impose cut-off times in their events. For the Marathon Races where most of the city roads are closed from vehicular traffic, six (6) hours is a decent time as a cut-off time in order to relieve the riding public of the inconvenience it would bring if the race is extended up to nine or ten or twelve hours. But on second thought, the cut-off time being imposed is not for the safety of the runners of the event but for the convenience of everybody.
In my post, I made mention of some of the popular ultra races in the world with their prescribed cut-off times. It is obvious that Road Ultras have a shorter cut-off times than those mountain trail races, except for the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race. UTMB’s 166K has a cut-off time of 46 hours; Hardrock 100 which is dubbed as the hardest mountain trail ultra in the USA has a cut-off time of 48 hours; Barkley Marathon has a cut-off time of 60 hours where each loop of 20 miles has a cut-off time of 12 hours; and the most prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race has a cut-off time of 30 hours.
Each of these ultra races has their reason why the Race Organizer/RD have to impose cut-off times. Moreover, there are intermediate cut-off time in every checkpoint along the route which forces the runner to meet such times, or else, he/she would be disqualified. Such intermediate cut-off times are being strictly enforced as race marshals would strip each runner of their race bib or tag and advised not to be allowed to continue the race.
I would surmise also that such cut-off times are being imposed by the Bureau of Parks and Wildlife which manages or administers safety in these wilderness parks as one of the conditions for the issuance of event permits.
Without any reference on these cut-off times, I would conclude that the Race Directors, who are former ultra runners during their prime age, would be able to “test run” the course by themselves and come up with an arbitrary cut-off time based from their personal capability or finish time results. Or maybe, they invited some of their ultra friends to “test run” the course and get the “mean/average” time of the finishers.
When I thought of organizing the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race, it was a challenge for me to come up with a decent cut-off time for the whole race. After conducting some “50K test runs” with my ultra running friends, I was able to come up with the 18-hour cut-off time, where an average well-trained marathon runner would be able to finish a distance of 50K in 9 hours, which way beyond the 6-hour cut-off time for a marathon (42K) race. This is the reason why one of the qualifications of a BDM 102 participant is a Marathon Finisher.
As for the BDM 160, I just added another 9 hours and another 3 hours for the remaining distance of 58 kilometers where I considered the heat and humidity in the country as the main challenge to finish this event.
When I thought of coming with the first trail ultra marathon race in the country, I would conduct by myself a “test run” on the course by dividing the whole distance of 162 kilometers into two parts. Thus, I came up with 32 hours as the cut-off time for the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Race which was maintained for the past 3 years/editions.
As I ran through roads and trails in the country, I made sure that I would “test run” any course/route that I would like to be transformed into an ultra running event for the runners.
I never changed on how I would come up with the “cut-off” time for my races. I would “test run” the course and whatever time I would register as my finish time, such time will be considered as the official cut-off time for the ultra event. Considering my present age to run through the course, I think it would be fair that my finish time will be the target time for the younger runners.
It should be noted that Intermediate Cut-Off Time is the time that a runner would leave the Checkpoint.
So, what is my message in this post? It simply means that a well-trained ultra runner could easily finish my ultra races within the prescribed cut-off times. These cut-off times (intermediate and whole course) will be one’s measurement or gauge if proper training and preparation had been made prior to the event. If one could not meet such cut-off times, it simply means that one lacks the proper training for the event.
Let us stop bragging ourselves to have finished a race even if you have finished way beyond the cut-off time. Let us stop giving any “finisher’s loot” for these kind of finishers. A TRUE & OFFICIAL FINISHER is one who finishes the race within the prescribed cut-off time for the event.
Good luck and see you in my future ultra races.