Criteria FAQ

Effective January 1st 2008 and revised January 1st 2015

Congratulations (or not)! You are part of the Insane Asylum, a place where once again you can be normal and get the respect you rightfully deserve. Main Maniac has set these ground rules/criteria that he hopes can clear up some of the confusion regarding levels, streaks and what counts as an “official” race.   


What counts?

We count footraces that are 26.2 miles or longer. It’s really that simple. Except when it isn’t. After much debate and discussion over eleven years of Maniac-dom, the following guidelines have been established as to what constitutes an “OFFICIAL” race in terms of your stats in the Insane Asylum and any “Maniac-type” awards based on counting.


And… always remember… these guidelines are about ‘what counts’ in terms of electronic spinning stars in our club. There are many events out there that might not count but are undoubtedly Great Big Fun. As a lifelong runner, Main Maniac encourages you to explore and try new things irrespective of counting!        

We count two basic types of races: fixed distance events (marathons, 50ks, etc) and fixed duration events (6, 8, 12, 24 Hour Runs, etc). Fixed distance events must be at least 26.2 miles; some races that are advertised as “marathons” but are well-known to be shorter (Breckenridge et al.) do not count.

Main Maniac likes to be inclusive. In general, races should be open to the general public in order to count.  A club-only event can count if it is reasonably simple for an interested person to also become a member of the club in order to participate.  Private events that are completely closed to the public do not count.  Events with qualifying standards... Boston, Gansett, Olympic Trials, etc... DO count.

The race must be advertised via web site at least one month prior to the event. We feel that this is ample time to allow Maniacs and non-Maniacs to make plans should they want to participate in the event. It must not be advertised with phrases such as “this event is not a race” (which some organizations will do to work around a lack of permits). If it isn’t a race, then it isn’t a race. We count races.

The race must have all of the following characteristics:

    • At least 15 starters and 10 finishers (aka ‘15/10’).  See additional notes about 15/10 below. *The Marathon Maniacs reserve the right to make exceptions based on the legitimacy of the event*
    • A race director (aka ‘the RD’). Someone has to be in charge and available to answer questions and make decisions.
    • Official results posted by the RD on an official web site.
    • A common course with a known starting and finishing location.  Virtual races where you can run wherever you want do not count.
    • A common start time. At least 15 starters must start at this time.

Fixed duration events: Some races are advertised as timed events (fixed duration, fixed time, set time): for example, a “24 hour run”. The goal of these events is for participants to run as many miles as possible or desired during the set amount of time.  To count a fixed duration event:

    • All of the characteristics listed above apply.
    • You must complete a minimum of 26.2 miles in events advertised as “8 Hour” events or shorter. You must complete a minimum of 31 miles in events advertised as “8:01” events or longer. This distance is determined by the advertised duration of the race itself, not by when you personally decide to stop. 
    • The minimum 10 “finishers” must all complete the minimum distance.
    • There must be a mechanism in place (chips or spotters) to count laps. If the event involves “email the RD how many miles you ran yesterday” or something similar, it does not count.
    • You may start the race late provided the RD allows this.  Early starts and late finishes for fixed duration events DO NOT COUNT.  The concept of the ‘early start’ was created for fixed distance races to allow slower participants time to complete the distance. When it comes to fixed duration events, there is generally ample time already to complete the minimum distance.
    • If an event offers up multiple categories, like a 6, 12, and 24 hour race during the same timeframe, you can count one maximum.  No registering for both the 24 hour and 12 hour, then dropping out of the 12 hour after completing 31 miles and joining the in-progress 24 hour for another 31 miles to count it as “two”.  You were on the same course as everyone else participating in the same event. One max.
    • If an event provides both fixed duration AND fixed distance categories, you have to participate in one or the other.
    • Lap and/or mileage discrepancy resolution is up to the RD. If your result shows you ran 28 miles during a 12 Hour (this wouldn’t count) but you think you ran 32 (countable), you need to work this out with the RD. Always check your total before you leave! Better to run an extra lap than to wind up being short.

A few more notes regarding the 15 starters and 10 finishers: The 15 starters must be participants who intend to complete the race… no stacking the deck with ‘intentional DNFs’ to make the minimum. As noted above, for fixed duration events, at least 10 participants must complete the minimum distance (26.2 or 31 miles, depending).

Early and late starts: Official (as in, with RD approval) early and late starts are allowed for fixed distance races provided your time on the course overlaps the actual event. No “early starts” the day before or “late starts” after the race has closed up shop!  If for whatever reason your early start results in you being disqualified from the race, it doesn’t count. As noted above, early starts and late finishes for fixed duration events do not count. However, late starts (during the hours that the course is open) do count.

Finishing after the course closes: If you finish after the official closure time of the event, you can still count the event in your stats only if the RD lists you in the race results. HOWEVER…If the RD decides to call off the race during the event due to reasons that would compromise safety and the well being of participants (2007 Chicago, 2006 Fox Cities, etc…) and this resulted in you not completing the event, then it does not count for those pulled from the course. Your safety and health are paramount before any statistic (don’t you become one!). However, if you happen to finish before the race is called off and are given an official finisher’s time, then it does count.

Getting lost: If you were directed off-course by a volunteer and thus were not able to complete 26.2 miles…Main Maniac is as bummed out as you are.  But, nope, sorry, it doesn’t count.  If, however, you ran bonus miles and are listed in the results, congratulations. It counts and you got in some extra training.

Bandits Beware! Should you decide to bandit a race and have no race number, good for you for getting in a “training run” because that’s all you’ll get. IT WON’T COUNT IN YOUR STATS! And please don’t take any of the refreshments and food that the legitimate registered runners paid for. Running under someone else’s name: NO!…PLEASE DON’T even think about it!! Register earlier or try the lottery next year! That said, many races now allow legal bib transfers. If you legally buy a bib and the race organization reclassifies it under your name, gender, and age, you may count this race.

Ultras and DNFs: You must finish the official, advertised distance to count an ultra. For example, say at the White River 50 miler, you get back to Buck Creek in the heat of the day and you are really bleh...”I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD”. You drop out at the 27 mile mark. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately when it comes to your health) it counts as a DNF (did not finish), not as a marathon finish. Even if you finish 99 miles of a 100 miler and have to drop out, IT DOES NOT COUNT. There’s always next year. Remember, you run these longer distances purely for the love of it!

Big Exception: Some ultras allow you to drop down from your registered distance during the race and list you in the results for a shorter distance.  As long as you are following the race’s rules when you do this, get listed in the results, and the shorter distance is still 26.2 or longer, you may count it.  For example, the Javelina Jundred allows you to drop at 100k and receive credit (and a little buckle even) for 100k.  This counts.  But it ONLY counts at races where this is allowed!

Pacers: Pace group leaders who run the entire event and are listed in the results count.  Unofficially pacing a friend (and therefore not appearing in the results)? Congratulations on some good training and friend karma, but this does not count.  Pacing a friend for the last part of an ultra is also good karma, if the race allows it... but also doesn’t count toward stats.

Race Directors and Volunteers: RDs, we applaud your efforts for putting on races for us; volunteers, mahalo plenty for helping out. However, if you run YOUR marathon, you need to do it at the same time the participants are running it, not while you’re marking the course a week earlier or even making a dry run the day before. This also pertains to runners who may want to make arrangements with the race director to run their race the day before because they have another marathon scheduled the next day. Restated from above: your early start must overlap the official race. Try to hand over the reins of being the director to a non-runner for a few hours so you too can enjoy running your event!

Course squatting: Speaking of race directors… For those of you wanting to set up your own low-key races on the same day as other races... your venue needs to be substantially different.  No setting up a "Ghost of New York City Marathon" that starts a couple hours before/after the official race and uses parts or all of the same courseOfficially:  If you want another race that day, find another place to be. As for setting up races that borrow another race’s course in general… keep in mind that some races work really really hard to create challenging/fast/fun courses with an accurate distance and spend a lot of time with various governmental orgs to allow and permit their races. Sometimes borrowing/swiping a course is ok, and sometimes it very much is not. Main Maniac has a mixed “it depends” opinion on this type of low-key race. 

Fat Ass and no-support races: Some of the most treasured events around, especially during the holiday season, are so-called ‘fat ass’ races with no support.  Great camaraderie!  Big thumbs up.  Main Maniac also likes things that are free to participants. However, Main Maniac sometimes takes a dimmer view on super-low-key events classified as “fat ass” that are created specifically so a person can pump up his/her stats. With a smile and a desire to promote camaraderie and all those other aspects listed at the top of this document, Main Maniac still reserves the right to declare blatant attempts at stat pumping via events where the “RD” puts in absolutely no work as not countable.  Main Maniac pledges to be as consistent as possible here… but if your event has “no fee, no support, no marked course, start at my house, no specified start time, email me your results after you are done, as far as the community is concerned this is not a race” and is part of a series of every-weekend events of a similar nature, the Reality Warning Signal goes off at Maniac Central.  99.9% of the time, this should be no big deal.  An annual fat ass can turn into a WONDERFUL long-term event. A twice-a-week run on the streets of your neighborhood with zero formality is a training run.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do I need to maintain my current Maniac level status by achieving the criteria each and every year?
A. No. Once a Maniac, always a Maniac (provided that you renew your annual membership dues). You don’t have to even complete another marathon or ultra after you are admitted into the Insane Asylum, though we’d much rather prefer that you’re out there participating in the events.

Q. Do I need to achieve all three criteria mentioned in a level in order to progress to a higher level?
A. No, you only need to achieve one of the mentioned criteria in a level to progress.

Q. For my best streak, does it have to be attained in a calendar year?
A. No, Main Maniac relaxed the rules back in 2008…it can overlap in 2 years. So if your streak of 6 marathons in 6 months (Silver level) was run from October 2014 – March 2015, then it officially counts.

Q. Do triathlons and duathlons count?
A. Yes! Ironman triathlons and other multisport events with 26.2+ mile run segments count! However, the run must be continuous. For example, if the duathlon has two run segments that are each 13.1, this does not count. This is an agreed-upon exception to the “common start” idea at the top of this document.

Q. Do relays count?
A. Usually, no. A relay is a race that is split into shorter legs and run as a team. In general, relays do not count... even if all the legs you ran add up to more than 26.2 miles. However, if the relay has a solo
category where you run all the legs yourself, you can count this IF the category meets all the standard guidelines (open to the public, 15 starters, 10 finishers, you are listed as a finisher, etc). If you unofficially run a relay on your own, congratulations on the stunt run and great ultra training. It doesn’t count. Remember: the solo category itself must meet 15/10 and all the other counting standards.

Q. Do stage races count?
A. Sometimes. A stage race is like a person running a relay solo, but with an enforced rest period (usually overnight) between each leg. If no individual leg/day is 26.2+ miles long, it doesn’t count. If one or more days is 26.2+ miles, then:
 The event counts as ONE AND ONLY ONE if you have to sign up for the entire stage race to participate. You must complete the entire event to count it.
 You can count each 26.2+ leg/day individually ONLY IF the race allows "a la carte" sign up (meaning, interested people could sign up for each day individually as a standalone event if they wanted).
For example: The Tahoe Triple is actually a stage race... but it counts as 3 because you can sign up for each day individually. 3 Days of Syllamo counts as 2 because you can sign up for each day individually, but only 2 of 3 days are 26.2+. Marathon Des Sables only counts as 1. And it is the hardest of the three examples, by far.

Q. Do prediction races count?
A. These are races that have a common finishing time instead of a common starting time. Participants predict how long it will take them to run the course and then start at the appropriate time with the goal of reaching the finish line as close to the common finishing time as possible. Provided your prediction race meets the other standards, yes, count it!

Q. I found a race that utilizes treadmills. Woohoo! Does it count?
A. If you can run 26.2 miles on a treadmill without going insane (as opposed to Insane), more power to you. However, treadmills are tricky devices that go out of calibration easily. A mile on a treadmill may not be the same thing as an actual measured mile. Plus this kind of pushes the concept of ‘race’ beyond what Main Maniac originally envisioned. No, these do not count.

Q. Help! My race was cancelled. If my friends and I run the course anyway on race day, does it count?
A. Race cancellations happen for various reasons, and Main Maniac feels your pain. If you run the course informally with friends (as an impromptu Fat Ass), congratulations on the training run, but it won’t count toward stats.

Q. When trying to meet the 15 starter/10 finisher minimums for an event, is it per race or can I add all the races together?
A. 15/10 is intended to apply PER INDIVIDUAL RACE. If the Water Quality Day Marathon has 10 finishers and the WQD 50k has 6 finishers, hooray for the marathon – it counts! But the 50k did not. This is a guideline. As ultras increase in distance, use your own best judgment. It is unlikely you will find 10+ finishers at some of the 200 milers that are starting to pop up. If/when more Maniacs choose to compete in 100k+ events, we will revisit this issue. But for the standard 50k and 50 miler, it needs to hit 15/10 on its own.

Q. I’m part of a marathon relay team in which each member is running ~6.7 miles each, but after I complete the first leg, I’d like to run with the other 3 members on their respective “legs” and run the entire marathon. Can I count that as a completed marathon?
A. While technically you may have run an entire marathon, you were not registered to run in the full marathon event, just the relay, so sorry, it would not count. But at least you provided good company for your teammates!

Q. I’m part of a team doing a relay event and just about all of the members had to drop out due to altitude, hills and other stuff, resulting in my having to run 5 miles for the first leg and 27 miles for the next leg…can I count this as a marathon or even as an ultra finish (32 miles total?)
A. First off, you need to pick more reliable teammates, and if I were you I would make them pay for your meals, drinks, massage, etc…for getting you into this fiasco. But worst of all…IT DOESN’T COUNT!!

Q. If I run a double marathon, say a 52.4 miler in one race, can I count that as 2 marathons? Can a 100 miler count as 3+ marathons? Can a “24 hour race” count as 4 “6 hour races”?
A. Sorry, no. It’s still considered ONE event counted towards your total number in the Insane Asylum. Remember, you’re out there running ultras because you truly want to run the distance, not to pad your stats! The shorthand way to remember this is “1=1”. You signed up for a single race, so you get one credit for completing that race. And before you ask – yes, Main Maniac totally gets that a 100 miler is a whole lot more challenging than a marathon. Still, 1=1. Pick races because YOU want to run them.

Q. I participated in a 12 hour race. I completed 26.2 miles under 8 hours. I can count this, right?
A. Sorry, no. You entered a 12 hour race; the minimum distance to count is 31 miles. This guideline goes by the advertised distance of the race itself, not the personal time you chose to stop.

Q. Why is there a dividing line at 8 hours for Fixed Duration Events? Why isn’t 26.2 miles enough to count for all these events?
A. Main Maniac feels that if you are signing up for a 24 hour event (or maybe a 72 hour event, wee!), you have ample time to go a few more miles beyond a marathon. You can walk it if you want; that’s great. However, because we are not a club based on speed, it made good sense to make the minimum be 26.2 for shorter fixed duration events. There had to be a dividing line somewhere. Why 8? Why not!

Q. Help! I ran the Pikes Peak Marathon in 9 hours. I know that for an 8 hour race, the minimum distance required to count is 31 miles! Pikes Peak was hard! Am I hosed?!?!
A. First off, breathe. Relax. Secondly, congratulations. It counts. You are confusing the additional rules for Fixed Duration Events with the rules for Fixed Distance races. Pikes Peak is a fixed distance race… the whole “31 miles is the minimum distance for races longer than 8 hours” doesn’t apply. At all. It is a marathon, not a “9 Hour Race”. Yay!

Q. I’m missing from the results of a race! What do I do?
A. If you believe you have completed an event legally but are NOT listed in the results (example: chip error), see if the race director or timing company will add you to the results based on photos and back-up tracking systems, like spotters at the finish line. As a final backup, if you have a medal and some additional info… like a finish line photo… that works fine. Unfortunately, a medal and a bib are no longer “enough” now that some races will send these out as part of virtual race packages.

Q. I’m upset because all these rules mean that the race I want to run apparently doesn’t count.
A. Apologies, truly. We are a club based on counting stuff… so we have to have a common frame of reference regarding how to count the stuff. Do not consider this to be a judgment of merit for other events! There are all kinds of cool events to run. Many count. Some don’t. They are still probably fun. Anyway, there are about 10,000 countable events and we want you to be a lifelong runner. Try different things.

Q. I got swept off the course by an official race vehicle, but then went back out and completed the event on my own. Can I count it?
A. Ooops. Sorry. If you got swept by an official vehicle, your day officially just ended. Main Maniac does allow you to count races you complete after the course closes (provided you are in the results), but the implication is that you did this with an ok from the race. Getting swept means you did not.

Q. I ran an event that is not in the Marathon Maniac calendar. May I count it? Does an event have to be in the Marathon Maniac calendar more than 30 days in advance to count?
A. The guideline states that a race has to be advertised via website more than a month in advance. This does NOT mean it has to be in our calendar more than 30 days in advance… or at all. The guideline means that the race has to have useful information out there somewhere. Our calendar points to event web pages. Provided a race has advertised itself in plenty of time, it is perfectly fine (and countable) that the race is not in our calendar. Similarly, races can be added to the calendar all the way until the day before the event. Although Main Maniac would like for many/most events to get listed in the Marathon Maniac calendar, the calendar does not control “what counts”.


Note from 2008: We are certain that there may be many more circumstances that need “interpretation” of the rules but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. If you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding these rules, please e-mail the Main Maniacs. In the meantime…HAPPY RUNNING!!

Note from 2012 unpublished rewrite: Yes, that note above certainly turned out to be true. Oh my. This, alas, is why the document you just studied perhaps reads like a state constitution. Please do NOT read this document with the intention of finding LOOPHOLES.  Rules interpretations by Main Maniac and the Board of Directors are done by intention.  Not all cases and interesting new race types have been considered… as always, they will be considered as needed.  Rules loopholes that exist because the document writers used…er… goofy language are simply not the same thing as cool races with a structure that had never been pondered before.  In the meantime…HAPPY RUNNING SOME MORE!!

Note from December 2014: Seven years have passed since the original stone tablets of “what counts” were passed down from Mount Tacoma. The original three word idea of “we count races” has now morphed into seven pages. And we have more than 10,000 members now! In no way are these guidelines supposed to limit your fun… races and runs that don’t count are encouraged. Whatever it takes to keep your running HAPPY!