Well, what an interesting week it has been in the business of track and field. Seriously, what the hell is going on? If it isn’t a huge doping scandal (I’m looking at you Russia and Kenya) then it is more reports of corruption and greed coming from the highest levels (looking at you USATF and IAAF). Then as though this wasn’t enough, we have to deal with just plain stupid bullshit (looking at you IOC, don’t you dare touch the 10,000). Folks, our sport is kinda effed right now.
I could rage on this all damn day, I really could. I could state my opinions on Lamine Diack and his entire corrupt and inept organization. I could accuse Stephanie Hightower and her USATF cronies of being scheming, unethical tyrants. Hell, I could even rant about the IOC and how they have transformed into little more than a soulless corporation, more concerned with lining their own pockets than supporting the excellence and beauty of sport in which they were originally formed.
I can’t help but be mad, get frustrated. But ya know what? For every idiot in a suit, we have thousands in sneakers. We cannot let a few cancerous bureaucrats corrupt our sport. Despite all this BS, running is still a beautiful thing. We have an amazing sport, we will keep it pure, it won’t change.
Whenever I feel the cynicism build I like to think back on my early days in this sport. Why did I fall in love with running in the first place? I fell in love with the beauty of running, the freedom of running and the joy of just pushing yourself to new heights. It is a very personal thing, they can’t corrupt that.
I also fell in love with the scene that us road runners have. There is such a positive vibe within this community. One of my favourite things to do is run a road race. Special things happen on those roads.
One of my favourite things in the world can happen during a road race. There isn’t a name for it, it is something you have to experience to understand. This would happen every so often when I was younger, I’d be running a 10km race, at km 7 things would start to hurt. I’d be grinding hard and eventually roll up on someone, or maybe they’d roll up on me. Either way, we’d begin to battle each other. We’d push and we’d fight, neither letting the other get away. After about a kilometer of this something would happen. Through some sort of unspoken agreement we would stop fighting, we would lock into stride and we would become a team. We would support each other, we would push each other. Very few words were spoken, but we both knew that we were going to keep hammering together to get to that finish line. Eventually we would cross that line, exhausted yet euphoric we’d share a fist bump and a smile. I was just a punk kid, and they were, well hell, they could have been anyone. It didn’t matter. For those 3km we were just two runners working together as one to reach our goals.
Experiences like those are special, they are genuine and pure. Experiences like that are exactly why I love this sport . There is going to be bureaucracy and politics that will corrupt the outer surface of the sport. It is up to the rest of us to lace up our sneakers and make sure its soul stays intact.