On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where is MY media attention?

The title of this post is meant as a joke. I do not want media attention.

But you know who does? The McRunner. And you know who else does? The 400lb marathoner.

By now you've heard of both of these guys, at opposite ends of a spectrum. On one hand, you have Joe D'Amico, an experienced and talented runner who finished the LA Marathon with a PR of 2:36. He spent his last month of training eating nothing but McDonald's as a publicity stunt to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. On the other extreme, we have Kelly Gneiting, a former sumo wrestler who finished the race in 9:48 - another PR, shaving two hours off his 2008 time of 11:48.

I'm not going to demean either marathoner's performance. It was miserable rainy and cold conditions in LA and you don't need me to tell you that crossing the finish line was impressive, no matter how it was done. D'Amico finished 29th overall in the race, and Gneiting set a confirmed record for heaviest marathon completer.


If there is one recent trend in publishing I absolutely hate, it's the gimmick book. You know the ones - "I spent a year wearing only pink shoes and riding a unicycle around the streets of Reykjavik and here are the life lessons I learned and pseudo-sociological observations I'm making." It's self-indulgent. It's pointless. It's ephemeral. It's vain. And the worst part is that we as a public eat it up.

These guys are the gimmick marathoners. D'Amico wasn't exactly supersizing every night; he ate chicken wraps and smoothies and oatmeal. Power to him (and I do hate me some gimmicky Morgan Spurlock, on the other extreme, all the same), but here is an extremely talented runner who got a hella lot of media attention (and raised money, to be fair) for doing... something kinda vain to get media attention. 

And then Gneiting! I'm not going to fat-hate and I'm not going to be snobby about finish times. 10 hours is, yes, a little slow, but he finished. However, I do have to wonder about his training. No articles I've read have mentioned his training, but I would have expected that over the course of a sensible training program he would have picked up the pace slightly and possibly even shed a few pounds - but for his Guinness record, he needed to stay heavy. 

People are lauding him as a hero (okay, so I read on twitter that someone said that Ryan Seacrest said that but now I can't find any confirmation of it and I refuse to listen to Ryan Seacrest to find out). But is he? I completely and unequivocally support exercising and getting healthy. I do NOT support desperate, unhealthy bids for arbitrary world records.

And that is the world according to Tracy (today's session, anyway).

Next up, for NYC people: you've probably already heard about this, but the good people at JackRabbit Sports sent me the following blurb, and now I'm passing it on to you because...
-I have nothing else to say;
-it actually sounds like an interesting event;
-they said in the email that they thought that readers of my blog might be interested and I'm so flattered to think that they think that I have readers that I'm willing to do whatever they say.

The JackRabbit NYC Running Show is April 22-23!

They included all sorts of ad copy about it, but you can read up about it on their website. It's big. Lots of vendors. Lots of speakers. It sounds like a good event. I'll probably go. You should, too.


  1. I want to write a book called:

    Gimmick books: or, why writing shit on post its will make you rich.

    Something tells me I'll have to self publish as the content will be "you're all a bunch of idiots."

    Related: lolz.

  2. See, my book is going to be, "I got a huge advance so I could take a year off of work to go running every day and somehow try to convince you that this is profound." Actually, I wonder if that book has been written...

    I could write it on post its. Post it one: "Who buys these books?"

  3. I did that! Here is his tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/RyanSeacrest/status/49892835088007168

    Totally agree with you. There was some lady a few years ago who was trying to be, I want to say the fattest mom? What a disservice to her children. Fame-whoring aside, she's essentially taking years off her life and instilling poor values on her kids.

    And what do you get by winning a world record besides fame anyway? $100 and a gift card to Ponderosa Steak House?

  4. There was an article a few days before the marathon about Kelly Gneiting's training in the LA Times (link).

    As someone who ran LA, the publicity around Gneiting and D'Amico was a little annoying. The overall winner set a course PR (by about 2 minutes) in the downpour, but I'm sure the average person who read about the LA Marathon just knew about D'Amico and Gneiting.

  5. Thanks for the article - I hadn't seen that one.

    And I think you're exactly right about the publicity. It's kind of a shame that the only way the public knows distance running is from these sorts of people and not from the talented, elite athletes.