Because (Unfortunately) There Are Asshat Runners (and Writers)

When I first started blogging over here at TTSW, I told a bit about why my writing, at that point, had taken a somewhat of a hiatus. That is as true today as it was then. However, this is where context is important. I was only motivated to write when I was angry. That is bad. Feeling the need to put words on a page sometimes when you are angry – totally different thing and in this case, absolutely necessary.

I get tagged in this Facebook link share. It is concerning an article titled “Plodders have a Place, but is it in a Marathon?” Ok, granted this article was written four years ago, but I didn’t know that when I read it. I did know, however, that I had just written an article on a related topic for Connect Savannah.

“The Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon is doing for the third year in a row what it has always done – creating new runners. Most training schedules are starting and there are a bunch of new gear, new questions, new excitement, and new runners.

This makes my heart big.

But real quick and without a whole lot of attention given to the offended and no attention given to the offenders, I feel compelled to mention an unfortunate presence in running. When you encounter it, it is my hope you will say to yourself, “this is what she was talking about,” and let it slow you down none.

I wish I was setting up a funny joke. Actually laugh at it. It is pretty ridiculous.

Running is like any other sport, hobby, club, or community. It is a microcosm of society and as such mostly contains wonderfully supportive folks.

Unfortunately it also contains those other kinds. There aren’t a ton of them, thank goodness. But this journey is hard, mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. One encounter, one sideways conversation can be bell ringing. It isn’t fun and if you are guilty of this you suck.

For the rest of you, allow me to be so bold as to offer you what I consider to be three truths about running.”

You can read the full article here.

First off, let me say you are more than welcome to stop reading here. The trash set forth by the quoted asshats is best handled by crumpling up the piece of shit story and going for a run – long or short, fast or not so much.

However, if you yourself are an asshat and are feeling a bit encouraged by this piece, you must continue.

More importantly, if you are a runner (and YES you ARE a runner) feeling a bit deflated by the “they”, this is most assuredly for you.

Many of those slower runners, claiming that late is better than never [because it IS], receive a finisher’s medal just like every other participant [because they EARNED it]. Having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners [because they ARE]. ~ Juliet Macur, journalist [emphasis mine]

“It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours,” said Adrienne Wald, 54, the women’s cross-country coach at the College of New Rochelle, who ran her first marathon in 1984. “It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”

947107_608163062529389_922364302_nHere, Ms. Wald…let me give you some perspective. 

“It’s a joke to run a marathon when it really isn’t even that far,” says April Groves, 37, ultra runner badass. “I mean you are only out there, what less than 6 hours? It used to be that running distance was worth something. There used to be pride in saying you were a distance runner but not anymore. Now it’s, “I only gotta go 26.2 right? I mean, it’s just I am worried about that .2.”

Yeah, it doesn’t sound any better when you say it. And the point isn’t valid either.

That is one of the things I LOVE about the Ultra community. Do we have asshats? Sure we do. But they aren’t common and they certainly are not popular.

This mentality is so obvious that folks need about two minutes to recognize it. My husband who is not a runner finds the Lowcountry shirt hilarious because he loves the irony. “Y’all don’t even think that way,” he says.

“In Ultras you are cheering on the other people standing next to you because chances are at some time during the race you’ll need that person, even if its just a quick, ‘keep it up, man’ or a 20 mile pacing buddy,” said Tim Waz, a real runner (see how stupid that sounds, Ms. Wald) and owner of Lowcountry Ultras. “I see it as the plodders are out there working harder because they are on the course longer. Power to everyone for just getting out there regardless of distance.”

“[O]nce elite event…” Are you freaking serious? It is 26.2 MILES! Some folks wouldn’t drive that far to WORK. Walking for 6 or 7 HOURS is hard damn work. It is elite. My 8 hour marathon friends, YOU are elite.

“Purist believe…” Purist? Are we talking about the folks in the over engineered shoes, with gear that cost enough to finance a third world county, and a supplement bill to feed that same country? Because I bet she isn’t talking about half naked barefoot people who fuel on whole food and water during a race…whatever.

Then we have the elite runner and longtime marathoner Julia Given chiming in. She has a touted marathon time of 4:05:52. Oh wait, what? The MEDIAN finish time for women is 4:03:39? Oh that’s because of the slow people skewing the time. Wait? No? You mean that WAS the median time? Yeah, for women, in 1980, before the plodders. So longtime marathoner has a less than mediocre time. She would be pissed if my sub 4 running for 2 years not much younger than her self saddle up and told her slow poke behind she needed to speed up or go home.

Difference between me and her? I think her accomplishment. even if not her attitude, is amazing.

But I tend to think Ms. Given is a teller of tales. She claims that she has this conversation

I always ask those people, ‘What was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more, I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it.’

She lives in Virginia. That’s too far South to talk sideways at people too many times and not get slapped. Just saying.

My beautiful, wonderful, amazing, strong, runner friends…you inspire me. You inspire a great many of us. I am cheering for you and I hope you will return the favor – either when I pass you or you pass me. Maybe on a particularly good day, we can find a few miles to run together.

 

Comments

  1. Holy… sub 4 with only 2 years running!????!!! Damn girl!!! 🙂 Having only done halfs, I have mad respek for anyone who has completed 26.2 miles. I know how hard 13.1 is, so to cover double that distance, whether slow/fast/skipping/rolling in a wheelchair, is amazing. Haters can hate, the world is constantly changing, and for the better. I’m so glad Savannah got the RnR when it did. I don’t think the running community here would be as strong as it is now if we hadn’t! I’d still be running 5Ks!!! lol

    • “Only” done halfs? Seriously chica, I have mad respect for YOU!!! 13.1 is a mighty long way to run! And I agree, the RnR completely changed the face of the Lowcountry’s running community. So glad it found me!!

  2. geigerhouse says:

    I’ve been running about 3 1/2 years now. I’m not fast but I’m not as slow as I was. I enjoy running & recently began helping mentor a beginner 5K group – my idea of giving back. I think it’s nice if we can give a little back for this sport / lifestyle we enjoy. I’ve done 1 Marathon, 1 marathon+ length (after Boston, in support of Boston), 1 Ultra, several Halves, 10Ks, 5Ks, etc. If elite runners want the course to themselves, then let them qualify for US & Olympic trials. If they can’t make that – guess what, they’re in the same boat as the rest of us. What the snobby, elite athletes need to learn (preferably before they learn it the hard way) is: This sport is supported by, ranks replenished by, & grows through bringing in new athletes, beginners, slower athletes AND that elite athletes are one injury away from being like (or even slower) than the rest of us.

    If you can’t show compassion or support for your fellow runner, perhaps you should skip events & run alone.

    • Gregg, I for one am amazingly thankful for the Geiger family! And I could not agree with this comment more! What good is it to be a great runner if you aren’t a good person?

  3. mom of an assisted runner says:

    So I wonder what their thoughts are of rollers wheelchair) and assisted runners (wheelchair or guides). I take my hat off to ultra runners as I’ve only gone up to half marathons at this point. Fast or slower, if we cover the same distance in the allotted time we all deserve the bling in the end.

    • I cannot begin to imagine the level of difficulty that would be. I have seen folks assist those who could not run on their own. The strength of body and spirit that takes is inspiring. If their thoughts are anything other than humbling respect, they are thinking wrong.

  4. I have never understood this mentality, and it just makes me sad to think there are people out there – running for something other than some combination of exercise, fulfillment and fun. I’ll probably never run a 4-hour marathon, but I always remind people — marathons aren’t actually measured in TIME, but DISTANCE. 26.2 is 26.2. Keep fightin’ the good fight, sister.

    • Thanks, Sarah. I never understood it either. I get that there is some bit of competitiveness in each of us and we all want to do well. But there is a difference between competing WITH you and competing AGAINST you. We all run the good race…our “goods” are just different.

  5. I don’t understand the picture that tags Tim Waz as an asshat?

    • Ha! Sorry about the confusion! When I originally posted my initial thoughts in response to the post I was tagged in, I used the word “asshat.” Tim and his sophomoric self found that amusing. That was his comment to my comment. It made me laugh and I wanted to preserve it 🙂 Tim is for sure NOT an asshat.

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