With a Warrior Games like course that has jaws dropped throughout the Twitter-sphere, there’s a real excitement for Saturday’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. The hunger has been even further driven by biennial scheduling of what once the most competitive annual footrace in the world. So, yes, Aarhus is a true God-send for a sport still reeling from recent disheartening news.
The amputation of long-distance races from the 2020 IAAF Diamond League tour – along with the reduced quotas for all athletics’ events in the 2020 Tokyo Games as the IOC announced the inclusion of surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing, and breakdancing for Paris 2024 – is a sobering recognition that 1) the sporting world is more competitive than ever as it expands and diversifies, and 2) that the arrested development and long-time corruption endemic to the sport of athletics – as well as its inability (or unwillingness) to grow out of its Balkanized amateur past into a fully functioning professional future – has now come up against Recognition No 1.
It also illustrates that the emotional tether that once linked the best long distance runners to the great herd of joggers who run behind them every week across the globe – much less to a robust fan base – has unraveled.
Yet in one sense, the IAAF’s reduction of distance running is nothing more than a reflection of what distance running has done to itself. (more…)