I sat on Saturday with my eyes glued to the computer screen as the US Olympic Trials Marathon was run. It’s the first sort of event like this that I’ve had the opportunity to do so and even though I had no real vested interest in it, I’m not American, I was super stoked.
To tell the truth I didn’t recognize too many of the athletes. I knew Meb of course and Rupp, of the women I maybe could have named one prior to the event which is why I was excited about all the Trial posts on Twitter. I was able to get to know a lot about these amazing athletes is a short period of time. But at the same time as I’m reading all these great posts I’m also seeing a number of people showing disdain towards the women for not “racing” enough, for Cragg and Flanagan supporting each other as teammates and not running the race as individuals.
I couldn’t really get my head around this!
One of the joys of running for sure is the ability to do it alone. You can throw on your sneakers and hit the street whenever you want, no coordinating with others, trying to work around a whole bunch of schedules etc. But I have obviously missed where it is written that running “must not” be run as a team. Now I will admit that I am not a marathon runner and that this may be one of the “unwritten” rules of the marathon but it doesn’t make sense.
Now as an age grouper I haven’t had the luxury of racing with a team (I’ve only recently begun running with a crew) but I know that the many times I’ve been stuck on the course by myself I could have used a teammate. And isn’t one of the appeals of running that we all claim to be on the same team? Of all the races I’ve done I can’t give you one example of another runner or a spectator for that matter booing anyone. Haven’t we all at some point not received a little encouragement from another runner, I hope we have all at least given a little encouragement to someone as we pass them by.
As I watched the race I couldn’t really see the fuss about two athletes deciding to give it a go together. I can’t imagine that it hadn’t crossed their minds that eventually one of them was going to have to win the race, and really wouldn’t that have been exciting, teammates run 24 miles together and have to race to the line!
Than imagine the headlines if Gragg doesn’t stick around and encourage Flanagan, who was looking like she was struggling desperately towards the end. Struggling so badly that she easily could have slipped to fourth place if she had been left to struggle on her own. After all weren’t these ladies racing to try and make a team? A team that many athletes believe is the ultimate team to make, the team to represent your country. And as a country don’t you want to send your best athletes? So your best athletes needed a little encouragement from each other to get them to the finish. If Cragg and Flanagan employ the same tactic with the same results in Rio I bet we won’t be complaining then.
I apologize if this seems like a rant I didn’t intend for it to be I just find myself discouraged. Even though we find ourselves alone a lot I truly believe that running is the greatest team sport in the world!
If you can put one foot in front of the other at a pace faster than you walk than you’re free to join this team