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Hope Still Exists


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  • Hope Still Exists

    After all the doom and gloom of Modafinil, THG, etc., I thought I would
    share my weekend experience with you all to let you know that, on at least
    some level, all is right with our sport.

    12 years ago, a Montana runner by the name of Ray Hunt founded a cross
    country meet called the Montana Cup. It is an open race that is based on a
    city versus city format. That is, the 7 major cities of Montana (of course
    using the words major, cities and Montana in the same sentence is a bit of a
    stretch) field teams. You run for the team of the city nearest to where you
    live (i.e. a runner from Belgrade runs for the Bozeman team). You can have
    an unlimited number of runners on your team, but only the top 5 score, with
    6 and 7 displacing other teams scoring runners. Much like regular high
    school XC. Speaking of high school XC, the meet is always held the weekend
    after the state meet so that the high school runners can participate and not
    run afoul of state association issues.

    At any rate, the meet rotates from city to city each year, and Billings had
    the pleasure of hosting the meet this year. And here is what we had.

    A total of 66 runners (44 men, 22 women). 5 full men's team, 3 full women's
    Runners from the ages of 14 to 62.
    3 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers
    The 2002 Big Sky Conference XC Champion
    2 members of the Montana State XC team that placed 11th in the 2002 NCAA's
    Several All-State Prep athletes
    Athletes who drove up to 420 miles to compete in a 6,600 meter race
    Brothers and sisters
    Mothers and daughters
    Fathers and sons
    For some, this was their second race of the day

    All of this for some individual trophies and the traveling Montana Cup for
    the winning teams.

    These were athletes who were out for the love of the sport. Some were
    recreational runners. Some were national caliber athletes. All were out to
    enjoy a race and experience some competition.

    Yes, we all get jaded by the drug scandals, rabbited WR efforts, shortened
    crossbar pegs, whether or not walks should stay in the sport, and all the
    other hoopla at the top end of the sport.

    But, when it comes right down to it, there are a heck of a lot of us out
    there who just like to go out and run. Nothing more, nothing less. Just
    line us up, shoot the gun, and see who comes in first. We're not worried if
    so and so is clean or dirty. We don't care who they're coached by. We
    aren't worried about whether or not we should be at this race or that one
    because it might affect my T&FN rankings/at-large berth/shoe contract/agent
    take/etc.. We're just here to try to see old friends and make some new
    ones, run each other into the ground, then all have a beer and some pizza

    So yes, we have the ugly, dark and seemly side of the sport. But, when it
    really comes down to it. There are still those who are involved in the
    sport for nothing more than the pure joy of seeing who can run the fastest
    from point A to point B. And I was blessed with the ability to see that
    side of the sport this weekend.

    Tony Banovich
    Billings, Montana

  • #2
    Re: Hope Still Exists

    Well put, Tony. I sure see that in the local USATF association xc and road race series here in Northern California.

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    • #3
      Re: Hope Still Exists

      You guys are right, at the grassroots level there is plenty of hope and lots of wonderful experiences to be had in track and running sports. It is only at the elite levels where greed, fantastic expectations and unreasonably competitive egos skew things. The advent of Title IX and the addition of womens teams at high school meets has doubled the the fun and involvement of young people. At the small high school where I work we typically have 1/4 to 1/3 of the entire student body running in the spring. Emphasis on team contributions, tradition and self-improvement (team-oriented training regimes, recognition for personal bests, regular updates of all-time school lists, etc) have breed dozens of kids who have continued to compete at the college level and hundreds who will continue to be avid fans and supporters. Track and running sports offer something for everyone both athletically and socially. I know some people who frequent this message board have no use for anything but high-level performers and are disappointed by any major meet that does not produce a world record. They consider watching an 11 second 100 meters or a 10th grade girl t-jumping 32 feet or even Allen Webb simply not running a PR every summer nothing short of torture. In my view people with those attitudes are the source of all the major problems in T&F and cross-country.


      • #4
        Re: Hope Still Exists

        Oops...usage error above... "bred" not "breed" !!!