PETITION BACKGROUND (Preamble)
Since its rapid growth during the so-called Running Boom of the 1970s and early 1980s, the sport of Road Racing has become a world-wide phenomenon. Participation has expanded into the tens of millions as people on every continent and of every ethnicity, background and age have joined its ranks.
With the development of road racing over the last 40 years, we have witnessed the emergence of distance running athletes whose particular skills, interests, passions and careers have found their highest expression in the sport of road racing. Yet with 24 men’s and 23 women’s events on the Olympic athletics (track & field) schedule, only the marathon – perhaps the most iconic of all Olympic events – is offered to road race athletes. Thus, while there is a distinction made between 100 and 200 meters, 400 and 800, 5000 and 10,000 on the track, no such distinction is allowed between 10,000 meters on the track and 42,195 meters on the road. Though one most decidedly does exist.
Furthermore, with the on-going epidemic of childhood obesity continuing to exact its tragic toll in many developed countries of the world, and distance running’s proven impact on the health and well-being of its practitioners, the sport of road racing is missing the status that an Olympic imprimatur would confer upon it in the minds of government officials, school administrators, potential sponsors and fans. Therefore,
We, the undersigned, petition the International Olympic Committee to grant the distinct sport of Road Racing the recognition it merits and truly deserves by extending Olympic medals to the top three-person teams beginning at the 2020 Olympic Marathon – as determined by a combined-time format. Further, we petition for the addition of a team-based Road Relay to the Olympic schedule, also beginning in 2020.
The inclusion of Olympic Marathon team medals and the addition of an Olympic Road Relay would serve as a perfect showcase to elevate the sport of Road Racing to the station it both deserves and has earned in world sport.
To date this petition has been signed by, among others, Bill Rodgers, Joan Samuelson, Anne Audain, Geoffrey Mutai, Sharon Cherop, Catherine Ndereba, Cosmas Ndeti, Lucy Kabuu and Coach Renato Canova (I was recently in Kenya). It is currently being circulated with its own Facebook page in the offing. Comments and additional electronic signatures are welcome and encouraged.