Criteria Faq

Effective July 4th 2009 and revised January 1st 2015

Congratulations (or not)! You are part of the Half Fanatic Insane Asylum, a place where once again you can be normal and get the respect you rightfully deserve. First Fanatic 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 between and including 13.1 miles and 26.1 miles. It’s really that simple. Except when it isn’t. After much debate and discussion over 5+ years of Fanatic-dom (and 11 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 “Fanatic-type” awards based on counting.


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

We count two basic types of races: fixed distance events (half marathons, 25ks, etc) and fixed duration events (3, 5 Hour Runs, etc). Fixed distance events must be at least 13.1 miles and not longer than 26.1 miles; some races that are advertised as “half marathons” but are well-known to be shorter do not count.  Fixed duration events are much more prevalent in the Marathon Maniac and ultra communities… you may not have encountered one; these will be explained down below.

First Fanatic 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 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 Fanatics and non-Fanatics 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 20 starters and 15 finishers (aka ‘20/15’).  See additional notes about 20/15 below. *Half F antics 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 20 starters must start at this time.

Fixed duration events: Some races are advertised as timed events (fixed duration, fixed time, set time): say a “5 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.
    • For Half Fanatic purposes, the maximum allowed advertised time is 5 hours.  Events longer than this (such as the typical 6/12/24 hour races from the ultra community) do NOT count toward stats. As with fixed distance events longer than 26.1 miles, First Fanatic feels that if you are signing up for 6+ hour events (really 5:01 or longer), then the big sister Marathon Maniacs club might be a good destination for you.
    • You must complete a minimum of 13.1 miles, but no more than 26.1 miles. This distance is determined by the advertised duration of the race itself, not by when you personally decide to stop. Again, if you sign up for a 6 or 12 hour fixed duration race, it doesn’t count even if you complete 13.1 miles in the first 5 hours and stop.
    • A minimum 15 “finishers” must all complete the minimum distance, 13.1 miles.
    • 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 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 12 miles during a 3 Hour (this wouldn’t count) but you think you ran 14 (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 20 starters and 15 finishers: The 20 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 15 participants must complete the minimum distance.

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 (2006 Fox Cities, 2010 Country Music, 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 13.1 miles…First Fanatic 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.

Tweeners and DNFs: You must finish the official, advertised distance to count a race that is longer than a half marathon but shorter than a marathon. For example, say at the Defiance 30k in the heat of the day you are really bleh...”I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD”. You drop out at the 14 mile mark. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately when it comes to your health) it counts as a DNF (did not finish), not as a half marathon finish. Even if you run 24 miles of a 25 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!

Marathons and DNFs: If you enter a marathon and DNF somewhere after the halfway point, oh dear! That is unfortunate.  Please don’t count that toward Fanatic stats, however. We only count things we finish, and we only count finishes shorter than 26.2.

Big Exception: Some races 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 between 13.1 and 26.1, you may count it.  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 a marathon or 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 half 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 race 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 Half Marathon" that starts a couple hours before/after the official NYCM 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. First Fanatic 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.  First Fanatic also likes things that are free to participants. However, First Fanatic 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, First Fanatic still reserves the right to declare blatant attempts at stat pumping via events where the “RD” puts in absolutely no work as not countable.  First Fanatic 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 Fanatic 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 Fanatic level status by achieving the criteria each and every year?
A. No. Once a Fanatic, always a Fanatic (provided that you renew your annual membership dues). You don’t have to even complete another race after you are admitted into the Fanatic 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 for Maniacs back in 2008…it can overlap in 2 years. This applies to Fanatics as well. So if your streak of 6 races in 6 months (Uranus level) was run from October 2014 – March 2015, then it officially counts.

Q. Do triathlons and duathlons count?
A. Yes! Ironman 70.3 triathlons and other multisport events with 13.1-26.1 mile run segments count!  However, the run must be continuous.  For example, if the duathlon has two run segments that are each 7 miles, this does not count.  This is an explicit exception to the “common start” guideline at the top of this document.

Q. Do relays count?
A. In some specific cases, yes. A relay is a race that is split into shorter legs and run as a team.  Many relays do not count because the individual legs are too short... even if all the legs you run add up to more than 13.1 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, 20 starters, 15 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 20/15 and all the other counting standards.  Additionally, some marathons and ultras have a relay category.  Provided that ALL legs are between 13.1 and 26.1 miles (for example, a 2 person marathon relay where each leg is exactly 13.1), and your entire team finishes, count it!  However, if one or more legs are short, this doesn’t count.  Why? Because usually it is impossible to tell in the published results who ran the long legs and who ran the short leg(s).

Q. Do “double half marathons” count? Do they count as one or two?
A. As of December 2014, First Fanatic has encountered several races that are offering up a “double half” category, usually alongside a marathon. If each half (as in, both) in the double half has a common start where everyone lines up together and someone says “go”, it can count as two races. Again, that second half has to have a common start time where everyone lines up together.  However, if you are running 26.2 consecutive miles and your second half starts when you personally cross a mat at the end of the first half, congratulations on your marathon. Sorry, that does not count toward Half Fanatics. Just because you entered a category called “double half” and probably paid extra, you are still running 26.2 miles at one time. You can’t buy a rules exception. The second half did not have a common start. We recognize that the common start guideline is waived for two person relays and triathlons… but in those cases, participants are running 13.1 miles. The Prime Directive in this club is that we count races that are 13.1-26.1 miles long. If you are running 26.2, you might consider becoming a Maniac.

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 13.1-26.1 miles long, it doesn’t count.  If one or more days is 13.1-26.1 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 13.1-26.1 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). 
  •         Even when a la carte registration exists, you can NOT count legs longer than 26.1.

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 13.1 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 First Fanatic originally envisioned.  No, these do not count.

Q. I’ve heard that obstacle course races (Spartan, Tough Mudder, Water Buffalo Hat stuff, etc) don’t count! Why not? My Garmin shows I ran more than 13.1 miles.
A. First off, relax. Obstacle course races can be big fun and you are encouraged to have big fun, even when it doesn’t count toward electronic moons.  These runs almost never publish the distances of their events in advance for various reasons. We count races based on advertised distance… if they don’t state this in advance, then they can’t count.  And in general, the distance you see on your Garmin should always be viewed with a grain of salt anyway.

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 First Fanatic 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 20 starter/15 finisher minimums for an event, is it per race or can I add all the races together?
A. 20/15 is intended to apply PER INDIVIDUAL RACE.  If the Water Quality Day Half Marathon has 11 finishers and the WQD Marathon has 10 finishers, hooray for the marathon – it counts for Maniac purposes… but the half does not count for Fanatic purposes.

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 one or more of the other 3 members on their respective “legs”. Can I count that as a completed half marathon?
A. While technically you may have run an entire half marathon, you were not registered to run in the half 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 11 miles for the next leg…can I count this as a half marathon?
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 marathon, can I count that as 2 half marathons? Can a 52 miler count as 4 half marathons? Can a “24 hour race” count as 4 “5 hour races”?
A. Sorry, no. Pick races because YOU want to run them… and if you are eyeing races of these distances, consider joining our sister club, Marathon Maniacs. And, as stated above, this applies to “double half marathons” that are really marathons in disguise.

Q. I participated in a 12 hour race. I completed 13.1 miles  under 5 hours. I can count this, right?
A. Sorry, no. You entered a 12 hour race; these don’t count toward Fanatic stats (but DO count toward Maniac stats). This guideline goes by the advertised distance of the race itself, not the personal time you chose to stop.

Q. Why can’t I count Marathons and 12 hour races? Clearly these are harder than halves!
A. They absolutely are; First Fanatic agrees. However, if this is the type of challenge you seek, then you may be a good candidate for the Marathon Maniacs.

Q. Help! I ran the Pikes Peak Ascent in 6 hours. I know that I can only count “5 Hour races” max! 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 business about “the maximum allowed time for a fixed duration event is 5 Hours” doesn’t apply. At all. It is a half marathon, not a “6 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 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’m upset because a race’s website states that their event counts toward Half Fanatics, but this document shows that it doesn’t. What gives?
A. This invariably comes up when races try to offer up something nonstandard that isn’t simply a half marathon or 25k.  Sometimes they misread our guidelines. Sometimes they don’t read them at all. We can’t police all race websites.  If a race goes out of its way to mention that something nonstandard counts, that should be a big flashing warning signal that it might not. The club has 10,000+ members now and races want to attract us to their events.  

Q. Help! A race’s website states that their event counts toward Half Fanatics, but I can’t tell if it really does and this document doesn’t cover it at all.
A. Ask. New cool things come up all the time and while we’ve tried to cover the basics here, we have no idea what will come up next.  Just know that if it doesn’t follow the Prime Directive of being between 13.1 and 26.1 consecutive miles with a common start, it probably doesn’t. It’ll probably still be very fun!

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. First Fanatic 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 Half Fanatic calendar. May I count it? Does an event have to be in the Half Fanatic 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 First Fanatic would like for many/most events to get listed in the Half Fanatic calendar, the calendar does not control “what counts”.

Note from 2009: 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 First Fanatic. In the meantime…HAPPY RUNNING!!

Note from 2012: 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 First Fanatic 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” for Maniacs were passed down from Mount Tacoma. The original three word idea of “we count races” has now morphed into eight 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!