THE ROAD TO GO PRO: A NEW ARRA

By 1981 the sham of amateurism, which began in the late 19th century as a means to segregate sport along social and economic lines, was too obvious to ignore and too constricting to let stand.  Road running’s promise was great, but the top athletes were frustrated by the hypocritical status of their “shamateur” sport which looked the other way as appearance fees were paid to a few high profile athletes, notably American marathoners Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers, while the majority of contending runners like Herb Lindsay and Greg Meyer, for instance, took home little or nothing even if they won.  For their part, Rodgers and Shorter were unable to cash in on their deserved recognition via open market forces.  So the athletes began to meet at events around the country in order to formulate a plan of action.  Continue reading

RITE AID CLEVELAND MARATHON WEEKEND

Cleveland Marathon     Cleveland, Ohio – The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon & 10K has always been a front-runner.  Well before other marathons began staging multiple events on race weekend, Cleveland always staged both a world-class 10K and marathon on the same day.  Now to accommodate the growing number of people looking to get into the sport, organizers have added a 5K and a Kid’s Run on Saturday, while a half-marathon is also included on Sunday’s schedule along with the marathon and 10K.  In all over 22,000 people will wind through the streets of Cleveland in the 36th anniversary of the city’s signature racing weekend. Continue reading

Avoiding Our ‘Race to the Bottom’

      Globalization, an inevitable consequence of our increasingly technological world, has driven multi-national corporations to the far corners of the globe in search of the cheapest possible labor and the most advantageous corporate tax policies.  As a result, pressure on middle-class wages at home has split the country farther and farther into the have and have-not camps.  At the same time, the government’s ability to maintain balance and equanimity amongst the strata of society has been diminished by what Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs calls a worldwide race to the bottom  as nations vie to lure wealthy corporations via tax policy and loopholes, policies which inevitably lead to shrinking revenues and reduced social services, further bifurcating the country.

It’s a cycle the so-called running community has witnessed over the last 20+ years itself as events sought cheaper and more abundant elite athlete labor, primarily from east Africa. In turn, road racing’s unregulated marketplace has stagnated at 1980s purse levels, displacing American, European, and Austral-Asian runners who found it impossible to sustain the rigorous lifestyle necessary to compete at an international level for the reduced wages on offer, while East African athletes still earned what for them was win-fall profits when compared to the meager average annual wages back home. Continue reading