Putting the “Elite” Back in Racing

One of the big news items in the running world last week, among the American records and spring marathon elite fields, was the announcement by the Competitor Group, organizer of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series of races, that it was reinstating support for elite athletes in its events. This about-face came less than five months after the original competitor-groupannouncement drew condemnation and calls for boycotts from runners everywhere. How much that reaction caused the change is debatable, but top runners everywhere, especially Americans who figure to benefit most from the new policy, certainly got a belated Christmas present from CGI.

From a purely business standpoint, supporting elite athletes might be most accurately viewed as a feel-good type of philanthropy that engenders cheers from the masses in much the same way some shoe companies’ support of cancer research does. It’s a form of giving back, a sort of noblesse oblige that event (and equipment) companies do because they can, and should. But in the end, how much does it really benefit their bottom line?

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Running Through the Big Chill

Nature abhors a vacuum, in the physical sense, and so too, intellectually, do meteorologists, at least the TV variety. It’s no longer enough to say we’re in for some heavy snow or it’s going to be extremely cold; now, winter storms are being named (perhaps to give them equal billing with tropical storms and hurricanes), and most recently the term “Polar Vortex” has been burned (or perhaps more accurately frozen) into our collective consciousness.

No matter what you call it, runners everywhere, with the possible exception of those damnably lucky folks who live in California, have suffered through one of the toughest winters in recent memory, and we’re not even to the Ides of January yet. Multiple bouts of snow and ice storms, coupled with ridiculously frigid temperatures, have driven even the hardiest of runners inside to the shelter of gyms and health clubs and the completely appropriately named “dreadmill.” Continue reading