Sunday, August 24, 2008

Finish Line Sprinting – Does it Annoy You?

<- Finish of the "Perfect 10 Miler". I am sprinting, finishing ahead of Susan and another female runner. Bad running etiquette?

In the September issue of “Runner’s World” there is an article titled “Don’t be annoying”, listing some of things that runners find annoying. I agree with some of them. For example, when people yell “you are almost there!” at mile 20 of a marathon. Well, I’ll be “almost there” when I can see the finish line, so please don’t give me that nonsense, OK? :) I still have an hour to go and I can barely move my legs.

But what I don’t get is this: A reader from Tallahassee FL writes: “What annoys me? Guys that can’t handle being beat by girls and try to sprint by me at the end!”

Excuse me?

Why do you think you are so special and guys are trying to beat YOU? I bet most guys are like me. I always sprint by the finish line. I am trying to improve my time and I think it is a good running practice to give everything I have left, when I see the finish line. I am running against the clock, trying to improve my PR, or break the course record. That’s what I like about running. I am not running against other runners, but against myself.

One exception is if I see someone who I know is in my age group and we are both competing for the same age award. So, I don’t care about any woman that happens to be around me because we are not competing for anything in common.

Case in question, the “Perfect 10 Miler”. See that attached picture. I sprinted at the end and passed Susan. Did I do it because I cannot stand to be beaten by a woman? Of course not! I was already beaten by a bunch of women. Everyone was sprinting at the end. This is the right thing to do. Granted, if there was no one in sight, I would be less inclined to sprint at the end. Having runners around me is an extra incentive. But if Susan was Joe, I would still be sprinting. Sex, age, race, are not important.

Now, here is the interesting part… Looking at the 10 Miler results, there are 5 runners finishing around me within 3 seconds:

41 4/25 John Sobolewski 34 M-30-34 35:28 1:09:56
42 7/43 George Themelis 49 M-45-49 34:41 1:09:57
43 2/33 Lisa Robertson 38 F-35-39 35:00 1:09:57
44 3/33 Susan Louis 38 F-35-39 34:54 1:09:57
45 8/43 Ron Disidoro 46 M-45-49 34:25 1:09:58

John is too young, but Ron, finishing one second behind me, is in the same age group. Of course at 7 and 8 in our age group, we have no chance for an award.

But Lisa is the same age as Susan and finished first in her age group, while Susan finished second with exactly the same time. I bet Susan would have sprinted a bit harder if she knew how close she was to getting first place in her age group.

Here is a funny story that happened a few years ago. I was running a local 5K when someone caught up with me. I looked at “him” and “he” appeared to be younger. "How old are you?" I asked. "41" “he” said. "OK, I am 46, we are not in the same age group, you can pass me."

So “he” passed me and when we hit mile 3, “he” was a few yards ahead. At this point I went into an amazing sprint, passed “him” and finished well ahead. After I finished, I looked at the “guy” and he appeared to be a woman (short haircut, flat chest, etc). Later I looked at the results and indeed she was a woman. I could think of some smart things she could have said to me when I said "you are not in my age group”. "I am not even the same sex, you moron!". That would have been quite embarrassing.


Sensationally Red said...

I agree with all of your points. I say, "Sprint if you've got it in you!" I believe that we run against ourselves and I think runners should use eachother for incentive. I usually never have anything left in me at the finish, but if I get passed, I never take it personally. Sure, I get irritated when I find out it's a woman and she's in my age group, but that is the spirit of competition.

Kelsey said...
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Kelsey said...
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DrT said...

Hi Kesley! I am happy to hear that we are on the same page on this. Happy running!

- George

jsobo119 said...

I remember that race... and I was really kicking that last 200 to pass all you folks but it had nothing to do with you and everything about using you guys as a carrot to make me do my best.