You have to agree, ours is the oddest of sports. Last weekend we witnessed the 37th QC Times Bix 7 Road Race in Davenport, Iowa. Yesterday, the 14th TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K was run in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. And next weekend comes the 39th New Balance Falmouth Road Race on Cape Cod. Though there are a number of top athletes like Burundi’s Diane Nukuri-Johnson who will run all three races, and others like B2B champions Micah Kogo of Kenya and Aheza Kiros of Ethiopia who will have run two, each event and its elite, professional field is distinct, discreet, never to be witnessed again, with none of them leading to anything beyond themselves.
The irony is that there is a de facto tour in place, just not a de jure one. What’s missing is a common thread, a linking element. It’s as if there were no PGA Tour, rather a series of independent events directed by local officials assembling fields signed for that one tournament alone, no tournament linked to another, no season, and no championship.
Therefore, watching these elegant racing machines cover ground at remarkable speed becomes nothing more than an academic exercise. It’s interesting, but it’s not visceral. Without a structure in place to generate a rooting interest we have removed passion from our sport, and relegated it to a minor niche like the small-time traveling carnival that used to fill weedy back lots in small towns each summer.
How can we expect people to follow such a sport, or make it appeal to a fan base through which we might inspire our increasingly unhealthy children when there are a myriad of other sports which do manage to collectively market and promote themselves? (more…)