Predicting is really difficult. Just ask the so-called political pundits. But, predicting is difficult in any sphere, not just politics or sports. I just heard a brief interview with Rod Stewart. He related that when he recorded Maggie May he shared it with a few trusted advisors. They said it had no hook and meandered all over the place. They highly recommended that he drop the song from the album and predicted it would be a huge flop. Similarly, J.K. Rowling’s agent received 12 rejections before the first of the Harry Potter books was published, and that only happened because the publisher’s eight year old demanded to finish reading the manuscript. Just shows how tough it is to know what the public will or will not like, or what will happen on any given day. As the saying goes, “that’s why they play the game!”

Despite the difficulty of making predictions, we here at the American Odyssey Relay are undaunted. We have a number of predictions for the upcoming years relating to our events. But, first, let’s review some of our past predictions to see how they turned out:

1. Prediction–Leg six runners would embrace armbands as a prize for running the mountain and not miss the beer glasses. Worst prediction ever! We had to buy and mail out 135 beer glasses after the fact!
2. Prediction–Runners would love to finish as close to the monuments as possible, regardless of the fact that there is no parking nearby and no beer or outside food can be served. Second worst prediction ever! We literally had to have the equivalent of valet parking at the finish line in 2009 and we snuck pizzas into West Potomac Park! And, people weren’t all that blown away by the incredible view of the Washington Monument. They were tired and hungry!
3. Prediction–Leg 6 would become iconic and cult-like and would be fully embraced, not despite, but because of, its difficulty. This turned out to be 100% true. We’re so glad we found the Michaux State Forest cutout at the top of the hill, er, mountain!
4. Prediction–The Boy Scouts Pancake Breakfast at T24 would be a huge hit. Yup, but that was kind of an easy prediction!

So, what about the upcoming years? Well, the easiest prediction for the future is that once The Wharf construction is complete (2018), our finish line will be unrivaled in the relay world. The amenities and fun stuff that will be available will keep all of our runners smiling. The District Pier, a water slide, numerous restaurants and hotels and, yes, plenty of parking! Of course, the corresponding prediction is that we will get our fair share of complaints about the finish line in 2017, since the finish area will still be under construction. No pain, no gain. Or something like that.

A second prediction is that the Potomac Odyssey Relay and our sister race, the Rock the Creek Relay, will both continue to grow in popularity as runners discover these races and realize that they are a helluva lot more fun, and not much more logistically challenging, than a typical Sunday morning 10K.

And, our final prediction is that the entire running and racing scene will continue to evolve. The growth in the number of events will slow and eventually there will be fewer events than there are today, as the laws of economics catch up with the industry.

Race directors will continue to try to predict what their runners want, from hot chocolate to beer to obstacles and mud. We will get some things right and some horribly wrong. Meaning, not much will change in that regard!

What are your predictions about the running industry for 2017 and beyond? We’d love to know! Your ideas might just help us to hone our own predictions and make them more likely to come true. Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2017 for all.

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