Elite runners could do more for running than just show up

This past weekend Competitor Group, the outfit that puts on the Rock ‘n Roll race series, announced the end of most of their support for elite racers.  While they will continue their relationship with the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts of marathoners (Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher), Competitor group is ending appearance fees and travel funding for all other elites.

There has been a modest outcry in the running community–primarily in the running community that none of us reside in–that says this move is bad for American running.  This may be true.  But the average runner doesn’t care if Ryan Hall is going to run their race.  They won’t see him.  He’ll enjoy a shuttle to the start, finish long before they do, and then disappear with a nice check.

What elites should do at more of these races (the ones they aren’t racing) is run nice and easy with us.  Interact.  Smile. Pose for pics.  Encourage those of us who would never forget it, who would never run the same,  who might be inspired to push harder, run farther, dream a bigger dream.

But they won’t. Oh sure.  We can get their autograph and a photo at the expo.  But what does that really do for a runner?  You can bet for sure that I won’t put that Ryan Hall poster next to my Farrah Fawcett poster. Wouldn’t moving along the middle and back of the pack alongside the average runner, giving them the experience of a lifetime do more for the sport?

I like Josh Cox and I love his perspective on this.  Check out his views at Joshcox.com

What do you think?

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3 Comments

  1. Seconded. Dame Kelly Holmes supports a local charity that puts on a 10k, and jogs through from the back of the pack talking to runners as she goes – not likely to forget running with a double Olympic gold medalist …

  2. America’s running fans are starved for running heroes, and have invested a lot in all three of the 2012 male Olympic marathoners, Meb, Ryan, and Abdi Abdirahman. It’s a small fraternity, one that is both self-motivated, and fraternally inspired.

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