I have designed some unique courses, certified them and then had others come and lay courses right on top of them, or almost on top. This can cause problems with identifying the correct mile marks, start marks and finish marks.
I would prefer that people using my courses use the existing course and NOT lay another over the top. That's why I try to make sure the certification name is related to the location and not the race. (also races change names).
We do have some trouble with event poaching, which is to run the exact same event the month before the real one. Unfortunately in this city there is only so many venues which are race appropriate and so many events a year there has to be events using the same course. Some parks even insist you use one of the existing courses instead of marking out new ones.
Smart people will make sure they are not using the same course within three months of another race. Unfortunately many charity organizations, guided by less than scrupulous "race directors" for hire don't understand this.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Just don't run a race on top of my course in the two months prior to my event because runners rarely like doing the same course twice in two weeks and both events will have low numbers.
Remember it's not just the course that makes an event the best. In some way it may be good for someone else to stage an event on the same course and not pull it off well, for it shows that your event brings something more than a couple of cups of water and a finish line.
It's not the course re-use that is a problem, it's reusing the course right before your event. That's when we should let them know it's just not done.
I am definitely curious about the event poaching that you mention. Even in a major metropolitan area, after more than 20 years in running, I cannot say that I've ever seen two races using the same course (whether intentional poaching or not) within the short timeframe you describe.
Maybe I'm naive, but I just can't imagine poaching being a huge problem. Certainly, if it happens only once, and it happens to YOU...then it's obviously a problem that you won't likely forget. My point is that it doesn't seem like it would be widespread.
It is 2:30 am so I am not going to dig out the details right now but it is a real problem and I can point to at least 4 of our dozen or
so races that we put on where someone is running an event the month before, at the same location, on the same or essentially he same course.
Some of this is may be because we are in a major metropolitan zone with a limited set of tested and workable courses, but some is just plain poaching.
Another problem is that when using streets we often work out a plan with the local residents association to put them at ease, figure traffic and access etc. , It "burns" a course when someone sees or runs your course, and decides to do the same plan without talking to you and figuring out the local sensitivities.
For example, I designed a course that is complicated, in that it starts down town, crosses a busy waterway with a lot of bridge openings, carefully avoids most major highways, and allows both a 5K and 5Mile race to run at the same time (diffrent starts but blended finish). It also took several meetings with residents and city to minimize both the number of people trapped in their houses by the race and to minimize the affect of the course on major roads.
So after a few very successful years another group runs an almost identical event on almost the same course, three weeks before. (The start, the first few miles and all the major features of the course are about the same.)
They also copy my rather unique dual race format, with both events running at the same time. Their long race is a 10K instead of a 5 mile (they added a bit).
The last part of their course are not quite the same, but they don't inprove things from a city impact point of view: Quite the contrary, they made a minor change in the return rout that thoughtlessly encircled a dozen more city blocks, and ties up two waterway bridges instead of one, and ties up two of the critical down town North-South arteries instead of just one.
They also don't go out into the community and coordinate with the residents and put the race date in the residents association news letter so the residents know the date and time that the race is going to block them in.
My two course maps for the current course are 5mile FL03025DL & 5K FL03026DL witch may not look at first glance identical to their 10K of FL07015EBM and 5K of FL03050DL but the first few miles of each map out exactly on top of each other. Both their races start on the exact same start line as my 5 mile race start. (My 5K start is offset by about 100' so the finishes match.)
So in February their race will start on the same start line and do the same first few miles as the event I designed that runs every March. Their 10K course runs the same roads, through the same neighborhoods and just does a few wiggles differently.
I could understand this need to use the same course if it was a race in a park where the possible course permutations are limited but this was a road race in a city on city streets where the permutations and directions you can go are very varied.
When I first worked it out the course I did was completely unique. There was not another race that even used those neighborhoods. It was not a simple course to design and it took planning to get the coast guard and county to agree to close down the river traffic. (Now, with the success of one race that does it some others do it too.)
Over the years I refined the course, and by working closely with the charity that runs the race it became one of the most successful local events. It regularly pulled four to five times the numbers that a good local race would pull. There are very few local events that get in the thousands. So they just duplicated the event, with the same start, the same basic course and for the last 5 years have run it every year, just a few weeks earlier. Quite predictably the second race suffers. This year their race will again be exactly 3 weeks earlier.
OK .... Bitching over. And for any other race that wants to come and use our courses, you are welcome, just come and ask first and DON'T do it in the month or two just before our race. (We are in South Florida where you can race all year long, so it's easy for races on the same course to have reasonable time separation).
James...thanks for taking the time to explain your circumstances (that's two very detailed posts in the last couple of days...I appreciate your informative contributions here).
Thinking back on my 20+ years as a fairly active event participant, I still cannot recall situations where I've seen events stacked on top of each other in the way you describe. On the other hand, it may simply be a lack of focus on my part. I am going to take a quick look at the area race calendar near me with the purposeful intent of finding situations like the one you describe. Maybe just out of morbid curiosity more than anything else.
Regarding your event...I wish you good luck. Positive Karma will come back around to you eventually.
This happens all of the time in Denver with Washington Park and City Park. There are probably close to 30-40 5ks in Washington Park using the exact same course.
I guess I don't see any problem with it, unless you are using a really unique course, say one that is run on roads, etc. Then it's best to just run it by the other race.