Monday, March 17, 2014

Men Without Pants

Happy Saint Paddy's Day! 

I am one angry Irishman.

Saturday afternoon was the Saint Patrick's Day 10K Pub Run sponsored by the post MWR.

I've been looking forward to this run for about a month, even signed up at the El Paso Marathon Expo for a discount on registration.

It should have been a great fun run.  The weather was horrible, gusting and raining, but the atmosphere was awesome, the route was familiar and local, and the after party promised to be exciting.

I'm angry because I was cheated out of winning a special prize on Saturday's run.

In the spirit of Saint Paddy's Day, the first runner to cross the finish line wearing a kilt was supposed to receive a special prize. This was my main motivation for the last two weeks to train harder. I assumed that this special prize incentive was meant to provide something for us "normal" average runners to compete for.
No pants?  No problem.

There are enough really high class athletes locally that I know I'll never win a top three slot in any race, or rarely even place in my age group.  But the chance of finding a niche class like "kilt wearers" means that I might have a chance.

Except that I show up at the start line, where the 20 mph winds are gusting and the rain is beginning to fall, rocking my kilt, to find the most elite, fast-like-a-freak racer on post wearing a faux kilt made from a tablecloth. 

Why do I even bother sometimes?

At what point does competing in amateur events and fun runs become unfair?

What if Bradley Wiggins or Cadel Evans showed up to your local bike race to compete? Is that fair to the spirit of amateur competition? Is it considered sportsmanlike to compete in an event knowing that you are going to win and that no one else has any hope of providing you with real competition?

Sure, I can still chase a PR (though, unlikely in the 20+ mph winds) and it's still a fun run with plenty of beer waiting at the finish line, but it was disheartening to see an almost pro runner stealing the chance of glory from us normal folks that simply will never see the podium any other time.

Yeah, I'm an angry Irishman.

I still ran pretty fast, even got a PR for races that I've tracked on Strava, but it wasn't quite the same as competing for something special and having the hope of actually achieving it.

It may be petty, but I feel like we all have a responsibility to play fair with our strengths.  I don't join a karate class and punch out the 10-year old.  I don't join the local amateur cycling club and spend each training ride showing off.  When I do compete, it's with people that can offer me competition, not people that I can run/ride circles around just to show off how much more awesome I am.  If I feel that I'm too good for a certain level of competitor, I step up to the next group and compete there.  I may be less likely to win, but at least I'm striving to improve and challenge myself and not just destroying the local amateur 10K because I can.

Just my opinion.

On a positive note, there was plenty of beer, even though the weather was awful, and I learned that running in a kilt is not so bad after all.  It's actually quite comfortable.