Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Bikes: Griffen Vulcan (TT tri bike) and that's it!
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Its quite possible that the courses that you've been racing at are really off! I own a Garmin, and I believe it is very accurate. There have been a couple of races I've been at this year where the Garmin has measured a shorter course than that it was supposed to be. And I hardly ever race (so there haven't been that many I actually measure).
For example, the Flint Hills Triathlon in Manhattan Kansas. Supposed to be "certified" (indeed, its an amateur worlds qualifier). Anyway, I finished it and my posted pace/finishing run time was 6:13/38:40. The relevancy of the time here is that I was like blown away "no way, was I that fast??" I look at the summary in "History" and the Garmin had me at a 6:27 or so pace. So I bug the race director. He goes out and measures the run course 2 more times (with a measuring wheel and a GPS), and it turns out to be 5.99 miles. That's enough to make a big difference.
Of course I'm somewhat happy in this case, because the distance mismatch was favorable for me... then again, though, I'll always have that hanging over me ("yes, officially you ran a 38:40 10k, but what would it really have been...?"). And I obsessed over it for days. It was my only Olympic distance triathlon and I really wanted to know what sort of times I can reasonably expect at my next race.
And another case about 2 weeks ago at this 5k, the distance was so badly marked that it was closer to 2.8 miles than 3.1. According to the Garmin, that is, but the runners all agreed that the course had to be way off.
You'd think that people would be extra careful in measuring the races, but they're not, I tell you!