During his second term in office, President Barack Obama was vilified for his policy of “leading from behind” in Libya. Whether such a strategy is viable in the realm of geopolitics is open to argument. But can leading from behind be a winning strategy in running?
I thought about that while watching yesterday‘s IAAF World Cross Country Championships from Denmark. One of the questions asked when the very difficult race course was unveiled was whether or not somebody laying off the pace could come from behind and still win. We don’t see much of that on the track or, as it turned out, yesterday at World Cross in Aarhus. In shorter distances races, contact is everything. But the marathon is another matter because you can let someone go early with the goal of reeling him/her back in later. But it’s more than that. Continue reading
Wanjiru v. Kebede, Chicago 2010
People watch foot races for the same reasons they watch other sports: to root for the home team, see how the drama plays out (especially if the stakes are high), and to be inspired by those who do it exceedingly well. At times, like at the 2010 Chicago Marathon, it is especially riveting when both hearts and minds become entwined in the outcome. Caring who wins matters.
But over the last generation we have witnessed what was once a robust gathering of eagles from all parts of the globe be winnowed to a very small aerie in East Africa. In that sense, we don’t have to wait and see who is going to win a major marathon or road race anymore, or how; we know before the starter’s horn ever sounds what will happen. And when all (or vast majority) of the winners from the same region express the same reluctance to fill the spotlight from a marketing or media standpoint — in order to overcome the public’s inability to differentiate one from the other while helping generate sponsor interest — we see the potential end-game, as with CGI’s elimination of their entire North American elite athlete budget, reportedly $1 million U.S.
Yet in the wake of that announcement, even as the chat rooms and social media have lit up with either support for or condemnation of CGI, the only two athletes who have spoken out on the issue publicly that I’ve seen have been Josh Cox and today Ryan Vail of the U.S. Perhaps I have missed others, but not one word has emerged from any of the world’s greatest runners, or their representatives. Nothing. And yet the CGI decision affects them more than anyone. Perhaps there is a fear of speaking out, but even in that light do we wonder why CGI makes this kind of call?! Continue reading