Recently there have been two very different news stories floating around about two women's very different experiences being slow runners. Obviously, as someone who has come in last place at multiple races, this is a topic very near and dear to my heart. Like I always say, it's not last place -- it's running with police escort.
I really should trademark that shit.
The first story comes from across the pond and a woman who says she was pulled out of a 20 mile race after only 1.5 miles because she was going too slow and told the race wasn't for people like her. She says she was pacing 12 minute mile while the race director claims it was over 15 minutes. He went on to say that he told Ms. Edwards that most people finish in 4 hours and he wanted to relieve the crew within that time and was concerned she was going to take more than 5 hours to finish. She says she was pulled from the race, he says she withdrew on her own and was given her entry fee back. Either way, she didn't finish. (Ironically, the person who did finish last did it in five hours).
I think this is a situation where there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in between.
The main issue with this story is that the 4 hour cut off time wasn't advertised anywhere. Even the director admits that. As a slow runner I always look for course time limits. I also look to see if they welcome walkers, as that usually indicates they welcome slower runners as well. My April race says people may walk the race, although they may be moved to the sidewalk so they can open the roads back up (which is, of course, entirely understandable).
I understand the need for course time limits but if a race has those, they have to actually let the runners know. That way the runners can make an informed decision about signing up. Holding runners to an unpublished course time isn't right.
It can be tough being a slow runner. Often for smaller races I don't get any official race photos because the photographer has left before I even got to the finish line. Likewise, the post-race tents are usually packing up their stuff. Some have even left already. Basically, depending on the race, the support -- especially near the very end -- can be non-existent for slower runners.
Which brings me to the second story that recently went viral. Asia Ford was participating in a Louisville 10K and around mile 5, one of the officers noticed she was struggling and decided to assist by walking with her, arm in arm, the rest of the way to the finish line.
IF THAT STORY DOESN'T GIVE YOU ALL THE FEELS THEN YOU ARE A COLD, COLD HEARTED BASTARD AND I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU.
Luckily, most of my experiences have been more like Asia's -- at Running the Bridges, my friend Gina got off her bike and walked with me and at SnoBall 5K, the office in the police car gave me a thumbs up when I made the final turn to the finish line.
For awhile now (at least six months), I've had an idea in my head to write a book about this topic. Being a slow runner, that is. It's what my FitBloggin Ignite Spark covers but I only get five minutes for that. This would be an opportunity to really dig in deep on the subject. Not just with my experiences but the experiences of others, too. I don't know, maybe I should see these two stories happening so closely together as a sign from the universe that I really should plow ahead with this plan.
Love from the ashes,