This morning's race was both brutal but fun, a great event organized by the city of Mount Pearl and put off by a crew of wonderful volunteers. They braved -20 and a piercing wind chill to make sure we all didn't die, hold us up at the finish, and make sure we weren't squat at intersections. Thank you to each and every one.
On a course that is about 60% uphill and with a brutal headwind, I was more than happy with my result and win. There is, however, something that needs to be said. One comment has taken away from the fun of what was a great event, one where every person should feel wonderful and be able to celebrate their accomplishment.
It is absolutely unacceptable for a race director, while watching athletes cross the finish line, happy and accomplished, well under the 60 minute course time limit, to say, "I don't know why people register for races if they're only going to walk them."
Hearing about this has me seething.
Every person on that course had a right to be there, whether they were hammering out 4 minute kms or finishing last.
This type of attitude has no place in the running or fitness communities. These comments are why people are intimidated from taking those first steps, from entering gyms, from going to a fitness class, from lacing up their first pair of sneakers. These comments contribute to our obesity and poor health epidemics.
I remember my first time setting foot in a gym when I was overweight, struggling with poor self confidence, unhealthy and wanted to make a change. It is damn hard and every ounce of support gives you the strength and courage to take one more step toward your goals.
Every person at that start line was there for their own reasons. For some it might be a time goal, for others to complete their first race. Reasons are nobody's business but your own but they should be celebrated. Getting to the start line of any race, let alone in -20 today, is an accomplishment in itself; finishing is the icing on the cake.
Every person at that line today is an athlete. Nobody should care if you ran 100% of the course or walked 100%. You finished, you have the same medal around your neck as the person in first, and the bagels tasted the same.
Encourage your fellow athletes, support the person taking their first steps to being a healthier, stronger them, motivate where you can, simply say, "Great job!" when you see someone working hard. Tell them they look strong!
We need to be supporting and lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. New World Fitness will be getting an email from me. The Frosty Festival 5k is not an Olympic qualifier, to the best of my knowledge, and the snarky comments and superiority complexes are better left off the race course and away from the finish line. Personally, I feel more emotional and inspired when watching those finishing their first race, or watching someone reach a personal time goal than watching the same person take home a medal for the 20007436784th time. Those are the truly inspirational people on that course.
Congratulations to everyone who kicked ass today, slogged that shitty stretch up Smallwood, and if you didn't swear your way through the last 3 kms you deserve extra congratulations.
And congratulations to the ladies who had to hear that comment fired in their direction. There is no need. I hope it did not take away from your feeling of accomplishment and want you to know every one of us are damn proud of each of you for kicking ass today. Keep being fabulous.
To answer the race director's question as to why people sign up for races when they walk them? Because they can, Keith, and because they have just as much of a right to be on that course as you, I, any person who has the courage to register and line up.
And because they're damn fine athletes.
Thank you again to the wonderful volunteers for a great event.