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Do You Care Who Wins? (Read 990 times)

    This topic came up for discussion on our local message board, and I thought it would be interesting to hear people's opinions on this question. What impact does the strength of the field have on your racing experience? Do you think races should try to attract more elite runners to races by offering prize money? Or is that money better spent elsewhere? Do you care who wins the race in which you participate? Is the time he or she runs important to you in any way?
    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      Hmmmm....interesting question. To me, no, it doesn't matter at all who else is there. I don't feel any more or less about my effort, because it's just that, my effort. I like small races, but it has nothing to do with my placement in the field. I just think they're friendlier. Chances are, I'm never going to get to talk to any of the elites on race day, especially at a real big race, so if they show up, hey cool, I ran a race with elite runners in it. I will admit to looking at times, sure. And to some extent, it is to see what I need to be running to move up in the ranks of that race. If I see a race where all the times are consistently slow, I think it's gotta be a tough course, and I might be more interested in doing it.
        Hmmmm....interesting question. To me, no, it doesn't matter at all who else is there. I don't feel any more or less about my effort, because it's just that, my effort. I like small races, but it has nothing to do with my placement in the field. I just think they're friendlier. Chances are, I'm never going to get to talk to any of the elites on race day, especially at a real big race, so if they show up, hey cool, I ran a race with elite runners in it. I will admit to looking at times, sure. And to some extent, it is to see what I need to be running to move up in the ranks of that race. If I see a race where all the times are consistently slow, I think it's gotta be a tough course, and I might be more interested in doing it.
        Again DITTO!

        Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

          Thanks, guys. Is it just out of habit, then, that races offer prize money and such? Will they stop in the future? And should they? Is there anything to the idea of a "trickle-down" effect, where supporting the top runners in a community might produce better times across the board?
          Scout7


          CPT Curmudgeon

            I think the use of prize money is a tradition, but it also works for attracting the bigger names. Of course, that's a relative term. Local 10K offering $100 doesn't attract world class, but it does bring out the local elite. I don't think prizes in general, or monetary prizes, will ever be eliminated from races. I know in some areas, they have Time Trials every week. It's not a race, but there's a course and timing. No one gets awards, it's strictly for training purposes. I see that as a viable alternative. But a race implies a winner and a loser, and giving something out to distinguish the winner from the other participants will continue. I'm not sure about the trickle down effect. Maybe I'm not 100% about what you're asking...
              I care who wins, mostly out of curiousity or--depending on how big the race is--if I know the person who won. Strength of field makes a big difference in my racing experience. A strong field will usually help me run faster times and races with stronger fields are generally more likely to pay attention to the things serious runners care about. I don't see prize money going away. The sponsors who put up the money--especially at the major races--clearly get something out of it by having their name attached to an elite sporting event and the purses are getting bigger not smaller. At the local level, prize money often attracts a bigger, faster crowd.

              Runners run.

                Exactly what mikey said, especially the strong elite field being a carrot to us behind and chasing.

                Ricky

                —our ability to perform up to our physiological potential in a race is determined by whether or not we truly psychologically believe that what we are attempting is realistic. Anton Krupicka

                  I personally don't care about the prize money - because I'll never see any. However, I think the world of running needs to have prize money at events. I think the money draws out the local or regional elite. With enough prize money - I think we will see people who can earn a living off of running - thus further advancing the sport. I like what the guys at the Hanson Distance Project are doing - but they can only support so many people. If more people can earn a living - or at least make enough at it to pay for their training and travel, I think this will open up more opportunities for people (Americans from my point of view) to climb back to the top of world class / international distance running. Kenya can't own distance running forever. MTA - Like mikey said - I occasionally will look to see if someone I know won or placed very high up.

                  When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?


                  Awesome

                    One of the great things about running, is that it's one of the few sports where the average performer gets to completely directly the world-class and elite. I think it's just incredible that I have gotten to run against Meb Keflezighi, Alan Culpepper, Catherine Ndereba and so many others. I'm not going to win, of course, I can't even sprint as fast as their marathon paces, but I appreciate being offered the chance. In out-and-back courses and circular courses, I love to watch them go by - they are just amazing to watch. Does it affect my performance when there are no elite runners? No. Does it even affect the races I choose? No, but I am always just a little bit disappointed if I'm competing in a race in which I, a solid mid-packer, still manage to place. Also, more elite runners often (although certainly not always - small town races are also awesome in this regard) makes for more crowd support, a more festive atmosphere and a nice full field. Also, as Bonkin pointed out - it makes me happy that people can make a living at my little low-profile sport. The more money coming in, the more high profile it becomes. The more high profile it becomes, the more people participate and spectate. It's a win-win situation.
                      I don't ever have to worry about winning any, so prize money makes no difference to me personally. I never really gave it much thought to be honest, but I guess it's part of life in general becoming more complicated and more commercialized. The Boston Marathon was first run in 1897, but the first cash prize for winning the marathon wasn't awarded until 1986. For most of its history, the Boston Marathon was a free event, and the only prize awarded for winning the race was a wreath woven from laurel branches. However, corporate-sponsored cash prizes began to be awarded in the 1980s, when professional athletes began to refuse to run the race without cash awards. Money even affected the course, I'm pretty sure I recall reading that the location of the finish line was modified slightly to be closer to the headquarters of the primary sponsor John Hancock Insurance. (Modified to correct olive branches to laurel branches)

                      E.J.
                      Greater Lowell Road Runners
                      Cry havoc and let slip the dawgs of war!

                      May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your SPF30, may the rains fall soft upon your sweat-wicking hat, and until you hit the finish line may The Flying Spaghetti Monster hold you in the hollow of His Noodly Appendage.

                        Interesting info, BadDawg. The possibility of a free event was just mentioned on our local board and met with skepticism. Funny that cars travel the roads for free everyday, effectively blocking the free passage of runners; but to block cars from the road to allow for a marathon requires a contribution to municipal funds. It's a crooked piece of time that we're living.


                        Awesome

                          Funny that cars travel the roads for free everyday, effectively blocking the free passage of runners; but to block cars from the road to allow for a marathon requires a contribution to municipal funds. It's a crooked piece of time that we're living.
                          The roads were built for cars, not runners. I have no such frustrations on a bike or walking trail. I don't know, I think it's fair to pay the cops who are blocking the roads and guarding the race and the EMS standbys. I also think it's fair to pay people for the use of their space, whether it be a gym, corporation or city. You're using the taxpayer's roads - it's only fair to pay for them for it. Every time you race, you are a liability, why wouldn't you expect to cover at least part of the insurance policy? Have you asked the city/town why they needed to be paid? They may be able to offer a perfectly reasonable explanation. I would be annoyed if anyone expected me to work for free, or to just let a couple hundred/thousand people occupy my living room without offering remuneration. Nor do I think it's unreasonable for elite athletes to refuse to run for cash. This is their job - this is how they make a living. They work hard at it and every time they race they risk injury, and in many cases they aren't even guaranteed payment. Not to mention that if they run a free race, that's potential time and money lost from running one that might pay. I love the idea that someone could grow up, and make a living at becoming a runner - hell, I'd love to do it - but that would be a lot tougher if they couldn't get paid. And hey Dawg! I'm considering coming up for the Manchester Half - any idea what the course is like?
                            I don't begrudge anyone a living, but I have tremendous respect for those that run (or jump, or climb, etc) just for the love of it. The history of Boston really is fascinating, I remember that I used to think "they run 26 miles to get leaves put on their head?" And for those that bemoan the recent Kenyan dominance, there have been other lengthy stretches where foreign runners have dominated. From the Boston Globe, Sunday, April 21, 1957 KELLEY ROMPS IN MARATHON 1st American To Take Title In 12 Years B.U. Graduate Beats Karvonen By 1200 Yards It took 12 years and a school teacher named John J. Kelley to teach the foreign Marathon celebrities a lesson. Running softly, but carrying a big stick, little John of Gaelic ancestry, yesterday chased the Finns, Japanese and Koreans off the B.A.A. course to become the town's golden boy. When the traditional wreath of laurel was perched jauntily on his yellow head at Exeter St., the 26-year-old B.U. alumnus stood adorned as America's first victor since 1945 ... when John the Elder Kelley last won the race.
                            And hey Dawg! I'm considering coming up for the Manchester Half - any idea what the course is like?
                            I do know the course, and I can tell you where NOT to turn. Smile http://runningahead.com/forums/topic/0c55cb2ab3af481dacbfec900b85b6ff Not flat, not fast, but it is USATF sanctioned so no monkey attacks. BTW, I'm up by Trader Joe's, so if you see an old guy with long hair (with gray "highlights") running or walking a greyhound be sure to say hi!

                            E.J.
                            Greater Lowell Road Runners
                            Cry havoc and let slip the dawgs of war!

                            May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your SPF30, may the rains fall soft upon your sweat-wicking hat, and until you hit the finish line may The Flying Spaghetti Monster hold you in the hollow of His Noodly Appendage.

                              I don't care who wins. When I race, it's because I choose to run that particular race - I like the course, the event itself, or whatever. If it attracts the elites, that is a bonus. If not, if it is a well-managed race - the aid stations are stocked enough to provide for the back of the pack as well as the faster runners - I am happy. Our hometown has a 20K race every Memorial Day weekend, and it always attracts the elites. It's a lot of fun because it is a well-managed event and you can just tell everybody wants to be there. I have never finished well in that race - living in Arizona, I'm used to the lower humidity, and that is usually the first weekend the humidity and the heat are really bad in West Virginia, so I suffer. Still, though, I look forward to running that race because it is fun, it is a challenge, and because it is also still small enough that you can actually get to meet some of the elites - top notch runners I would never get the chance to meet otherwise.
                                The roads were built for cars, not runners.
                                Too bad. I understand that I was being unreasonable--and I also understand all of your arguments, each of which are imminently reasonable. But reason has its limits. Where I live there are precious few bike paths. I live 10 minutes by bike from where I work and I have had to lay my bike down in the street several times to avoid being hit. Reason says just go in your car. It's not worth the risk. The dirty hippie in me rebels, partly in the hope that it will not become strange to see bikers in Nashville streets. I'll also say that analogy between the public streets and my living room is a bit stretched. I find it interesting that driving a car is seen as a neutral, public act, while running is seen as a personal, private act, one that imposes liability on the community. Just exactly how do we measure the liability costs of a community of runners? Will our analysis look at the long-term health benefits? And surely you don't mean to suggest that cars don't present a public liability? We are very comfortable with cars commuting through public roads and uncomfortable with other uses of these public spaces. There is a history behind that comfort.
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