CITIUS, ALTIUS, WHO-IUS

Hellickson Family of Hinckley, Oh. awaiting arrival of Katey

Hellickson Family of Hinckley, Oh. awaiting arrival of Katey

While announcing at the finish line of last weekend’s 37th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half, and 10K I began chatting with the Hellickson family from Hinckley, Ohio who were awaiting their daughter, Katey, who was running the marathon. With their signs and enthusiasm the Hellicksons rooted for all the runners who came across the line, and it got me to thinking.

Endlessly we’ve been told that running is a participation-based sport rather than spectator-friendly one. But those who grew up in the first running boom know full well that running had a tremendous spectator base when local heroes were the stars of the sport. Only through the last 25 years and the East African domination have we lost that thread of interest.

Rather than individual brands like Shorter, Rodgers and Salazar, we’ve been fed an endless string of East Africans who are staged anonymously to run against the clock with the aid of pace setters. But rooting for a time rather than a person is inherently less meaningful and appealing.

We saw how impactful a rooting interest can be with Meb Keflezighi’s win at the Boston Marathon in April.  And though he didn’t perform up to hopes, look at the buzz Mo Farah generated for the Virgin Money London Marathon the week before that.

Citius, altius, fortius is all well and good, but any sport has to begin with who-ius, who are you rooting for, not what are you rooting for.

Boston crowd cheers Meb's win

Boston crowd cheers Meb’s win

If Boston had been a paced time-trial there is no way Meb would have won.  And if London had not been a time-trial you wonder how differently Mo might have fared. In that sense, straight up competition allows the improbable to become possible. But more than that, the sport needs to pit Him versus Him, Her versus Her, Them versus Them. Make it personal. Wrap the audience up in the who of it all, not the what.

We see this in boxing all the time. Many of the premier lighter weight division boxers hail from Latin America. While they speak no English, it doesn’t deter the sport from generating pay-per-view interest, because the promoters actively market mano a mano competitions. And while golf is full of stats like who hits the ball farthest, the only real stat is who won the tournament? Continue reading

2014 RITE AID CLEVELAND EXPERIENCE

The 37th Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10k took over downtown Cleveland yesterday on a glorious spring morning ideal for running.  Here are some photos from the announce platform at the finish line on Lakeside Avenue where some 20,000 runners came blasting by.  Kenyans Philip Lagat and Sarah Kiptoo won the marathon titles.  Lagat ran a near 3:00 PR in 2:12::39 to add the marathon to his 2010 Rite Aid Cleveland 10k win, while Kiptoo defended her 2013 marathon title in 2:34:58.  Fellow Kenyans Julius Koskei (29:06) and Lilian Mariita (33:42) earned the 10K titles.

 

14ClevelandExperience

 

Joy!

Joy!

 

Call Me! says #2280 Stella Balzli of New Castle, Pa. as she finishes her marathon in 4:45:27 with 10Ker Christine Shearer of New Wilmington, Pa. (51:39)

Call Me! says #2280 Stella Balzli of New Castle, Pa. as she finishes her marathon in 4:45:27 with 10Ker Christine Shearer of New Wilmington, Pa. (51:39)

 

We did it!

We did it!

Continue reading

THE LINE

11TrackThe lines in racing are evident and precise. At tomorrow’s Diamond League Adidas Grand Prix in New York City lines will define the arc of competition while designating starts and finishes.  If only life could be so simply striped.

Events around the globe have been effected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past April 15th.  And there is little doubt that these next ten months will be daunting for the Boston Athletic Association as they determine where to draw their own lines for Patriot’s Day 2014.

Yesterday, May 23rd, in his War on Terror policy re-set speech at the National Defense University in Virginia, President Obama brought up Boston as he enunciated the qualities which define America and which require, in his words, “efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.” (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists) Continue reading