The other day, I got to witness a conversation among a group of runners. They talked about themed runs such as the Color Run and Tough Mudders and whether or not they were a good idea.
The good part: the majority of the runners who chimed in basically agree that the more running events the better, regardless of whether they’re obstacle runs or not.
But then there were the others – the runners who said stuff like “those events attract too many non-runners who should not be on the course” and “waste of time since it’s got a lot of distractions and so you can never get a PR”.
It’s during times like these that I wish some people weren’t allowed an internet connection.
I’m not saying these people should enter events they obviously have no interest in entering. The problem is that some of them were talking as if the fact that these events exist in the first place is a bad idea and they were giving out a shitty your-fun-is-ruining-my-fun and I’m-more-serious-about-running-than-you-are vibe.
As far as I see it, “fun runs” are the best thing to ever happen to running. A lot of people who run marathons these days started by entering 5km fun runs and realising they actually quite enjoyed it. If all we had were uber competitive long distance events, then who would enter them?
Not me. My first ever running event was a 12km fun run on Waiheke Island. Sure there was no coloured powder being thrown at us and no obstacles (unless you count my lack of fitness as an obstacle, in which case the whole thing was one giant obstacle course). It was running just for the hell of it. And it got me hooked.
A lot of my friends who don’t really enjoy running will consider entering stuff like the Colour Run and other fun events like that, because those other aspects of the event take the focus out of the running part of it. Probably because running feels like a pain in the ass and so the variations in those events allow for a distraction from that. And who knows? Maybe someone who doesn’t like running all that much will enter something like a Color Run and then get hooked on the whole crossing the finish line feeling and we’ll have another runner (this is basically my secret hope for everyone I know who’s ever told me they me they would enter one of these even though they don’t like running… but no pressure, you guys!).
If timing is really all you are about, then sure, stay out of themed runs. Don’t even go close to an obstacle course. But please don’t say these are a bad idea because then I’m going to have to write a blog post badmouthing you and I’m gonna go ahead and think you’re a massive snob. And this “ew…non-runners!” attitude? I don’t have any polite words for that. Was it really that long ago that you too were a “non-runner” entering your first event? If you’re going to say stuff like that, I’m going to want to see your Olympic medal rack first.
The most amazing thing about running as a sport or hobby is how democratic it is. Fast or slow, anyone can do it. Some people can only run 2 or 3km, others go to 5km, some will make it to a half marathon, eventually run a full marathon. Then some run ultras. Some run every day for years at a time. The one thing all those people have in common, though, is the fact that they are all runners. The really amazing thing I’ve discovered, through meeting different runners, is that no one will look down on you if you run slower and shorter distances than they do (or they do a really good job at disguising how lame they actually think I am). As far as other runners are concerned, you’re just one of them. I know a bunch of people who can’t run as far as I can and I know a bunch of people who can run a hell of a lot further than I can. I don’t feel superior or inferior in relation to them. But I do feel superior to who I was two and a half years ago, before my first running event.
There is always going to be someone better than you. And there is always going to be someone worse. As long as we’re better than who we were before, then it’s all good. Fast or slow, it doesn’t matter.
Just don’t be a jerk.