I’ve given some more thought with regards to age-graded races. I’ve ended by realizing that it really doesn’t matter how a race allocates awards whether it be gun time, chip time, age grading, raffle, costume judging, or some other method. I have been disgruntled in the past when the raffle prizes were better than the winner’s prize or when a prize that I thought I had earned went to someone else via age-grading, but now I see it as a problem with my perspective rather than a fault on the part of race organizers.
Right or wrong, USATF also awards masters awards based upon age grading at some of its races. Given that is the governing body of our sport I can accept that as the standard.It is not a perfect solution, but it does provide some incentive for older runners to keep training to run fast.
For the races that I remember most, I don’t recall what, if anything that I may have won. The things that I remember are how I ran, the runners who I competed with on that day, the tactical decisions that I made, and satisfaction of having given my best effort. Some of those races I won. Some I did not. In one case, I was injured, but came within 150m of winning a tight race after having finally created some space between myself and the competition. Prior to catastrophic hamstring failure, I had been experiencing feelings and situations that I had not enjoyed since college or maybe even since high school. Even the injured hamstring couldn’t completely dampen my euphoria on that day.
So, I have come to the conclusion that I should not concern myself with awards when scheduling races. I’ll just look for races of the desired distance with good competition and let the awards fall where they will. I am sure that that is a healthier attitude that reflects what I think is important in racing.