The other day I came across a link to this article The Wall Street Journal posted. It's a great read for any runner with an interesting perspective. The article talks about the decline of competitiveness in the sport of running. In the last decade, I've noticed this trend in other sports. The "let's give everyone a trophy" mentality. I'll have another post on that topic. For now, I'll stick to the running aspect. It never occurred to me that this trend could carry over into the sport of running.
I am not a speedy runner. Realistically, I will never win a race that I run. If I train hard enough, I may be able to win my age bracket. Knowing this does not hinder me from trying to be a better, faster run. I'm not satisfied with running a sub-8 minute mile a couple of times. I'm not content running a sub 2 hour half marathon. Was I excited when I met those goals? Heck yeah! But it isn't' enough. It's never enough. There are always new goals and new times for me to beat.
Reading the article, I learned there are races that are not timed. Ummmmm. What? What's the point of running an untimed race? I'm all for having fun, but when I'm running in a race, I'm there to meet a goal. Not to giggle and frolic. I'm there to finish the race and I'm trying my hardest to get the best possible time.
The sport of running has seen an increase in popularity in the past few years. I think this is evident in the number of gimmicky races popping up all over the country. Many of these being untimed races. By no means am I opposed to participating in a themed race: doughnut, cupcake, chocolate. But you better believe it will be a timed event. I can run just to run at any time. I'm racing because I'm trying to beat my old times. To a lot of runners, times aren't official until you complete them during a race. Yeah. I can PR a practice 5k, but it doesn't mean anything to me until I've had it professionally timed.
Some people go as far to say that perhaps not all participants should receive medals. Only those top performers should receive a prize. I think a medal for a 5k is a bit excessive (read: trophy for all mentality). That's not to demean the distance of a 5k race. 3.1 miles may be a big achievement for many people, but more training and commitment go into the longer distance races. I've run several half marathons. I've never won any. I've never finished in the top fifteen percent of my division, but I deserve that medal just as much as the elite athletes. Completing a 13.1 mile race, at any speed, is a huge accomplishment.
It saddens me the younger generation has no desire to compete. On the other hand, maybe I'll have a better shot at winning my division (possibly even a race) with the lack of desire by the youth. I can promise one thing. As long as I'm running, I'm doing so with the goal of being faster each and every outing.