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  • #16
    Originally posted by rasb
    Although I share gh's concern to pump life into our sport, I can't believe that anyone thinks making a 10K into a 6 mile would move the charts.
    The number of Americans who have run or jogged or walked or watched or had a relative take part in a 10K in a year, must be enormous. And often these are huge City events, with accompanying charity and media hype, so I can's see the 10K being considered an arcane event. What am I missing here?
    The people who partake in 10Ks are known for one thing: not being fans and not attending events with the intent of watching. The fantasy that we can turn the mass participants into fans is the holy grail of failed promotion in the sport. (But as I noted, even if the 10K is familiar to "many" people, I challenge an American--and that was 100% the thrust of this thread--to talk to a non-running friend and have them display the vaguest idea of how far 6K or 8K, two common distances, are in a measurement system they understand.

    Might as well invite them to a play in a foreign language.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by gh
      Originally posted by rasb
      Although I share gh's concern to pump life into our sport, I can't believe that anyone thinks making a 10K into a 6 mile would move the charts.
      The number of Americans who have run or jogged or walked or watched or had a relative take part in a 10K in a year, must be enormous. And often these are huge City events, with accompanying charity and media hype, so I can's see the 10K being considered an arcane event. What am I missing here?
      The people who partake in 10Ks are known for one thing: not being fans and not attending events with the intent of watching. The fantasy that we can turn the mass participants into fans is the holy grail of failed promotion in the sport. (But as I noted, even if the 10K is familiar to "many" people, I challenge an American--and that was 100% the thrust of this thread--to talk to a non-running friend and have them display the vaguest idea of how far 6K or 8K, two common distances, are in a measurement system they understand.

      Might as well invite them to a play in a foreign language.
      A couple of things on this.

      I agree with gh on the above -- Most XC people I know use 8K and 5 miles interchangeably when referring to collegiate race distances, even when the two are not the same thing.

      The bigger point here is this: why have "standard" XC distances at all? The rest of the world seems to get by just fine using the 12K and 8K race distances as rough guidelines, rather than this illusion/obsession US fans have with course "accuracy". References to "XC School Records" across all courses are absurd, as are the attempts after every race to normalize the times.

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      • #18
        I tried explaining the 6k to a parent recently. What a stupid distance. Go back to 3 miles, 6 miles, whatever.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Walt Murphy
          Amen, brother.
          Just saw this thread. Agree completely. It wouldn't hurt a thing, it could only increase the public's understanding of times, AND it would give X-C a nicely different "flavor" from races on the track...

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          • #20
            Unfortunately the fans (existing or would-be) are basically at the mercy of coaches who don't understand and don't care about presentation. (See the ongoing hoo-ha with NCAA Regionals.) So we have the wrong people making the decisions about how to further the sport. Not that this is meant as an attack on coaches. They didn't ask to be put in this situation, but circumstances have led us to it. Sigh.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by gm
              I tried explaining the 6k to a parent recently. What a stupid distance. Go back to 3 miles, 6 miles, whatever.
              My point (to this and other comments above) is that if you say, 3 miles or 6 miles, they will nod their head and say, "Oh, I see," when in actuality they will have NO more clue about what it means to run the distance than before. If you answer 6km is about 4 miles, they will be just as close to understanding the race as before. Unless you run, a lot, the distinctions are meaningless. In the beginning of XC there were NO distances. It was a matter of running form one town's church, over hills, dales, streams and fences, to the next town's church.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Marlow
                My point (to this and other comments above) is that if you say, 3 miles or 6 miles, they will nod their head and say, "Oh, I see," when in actuality they will have NO more clue about what it means to run the distance than before.
                I'm pretty sure you're right. Small case in point, my neighbors. He's a retired cardiologist, she's a retired RN (both in their mid-60s), both rose to the rank of colonel in the Air Force. They are huge sports fans, travel to see Air Force and/or U. of Florida play football, they keep up with a lot of sporting stuff and watch all kinds of sports on TV. I went to the 2002 NCAA XC at Terre Haute and mentioned that to her right before that trip and I had to explain what cross country was. She was puzzled. She had never even heard of the sport. Then she asked if I was going to compete. I was flattered. But 10K vs. 6 miles? Doesn't make a lick of difference. Find a different "We Think" topic for the next issue of the magazine.

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                • #23
                  Let's make it easier for the idiots in Marlow's world -- just tell them, "They run until we tell them to stop." That will take our sport to the top!

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                  • #24
                    Why is the Marathon 26.2mi? Let's change that one too. Really, the distances are somewhat arbitrary whether measured in Meters or Miles. Especially in Cross Country where landmarks or loops are used for courses. They end up with "inaccurate" distances even at the highest levels - ala Galen Rupp's 27:41 last week which was clearly short.

                    The fact is that to the uneducated, a mile is a meaningless distance too. They don't really have a concept of how far a mile actually is. My older brother started running to remove his beer gut after college. He told me he was running 2mi to start. I asked how he knew the distance and he informed me that it took about 12min. He figured if world class runners were running 4min miles, he was probably running 6min. And he had actually been a spectator at many of my races!

                    Those who know, know. If you have run a 5k or 10k you know. As noted before, this is actually a good portion of the population.

                    Those who don't know probably are not interested anyway. So changing distances is not going to get them any more or less interested.
                    In the sun with a popsicle, everthing is possible

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by gm
                      Let's make it easier for the idiots in Marlow's world -- just tell them, "They run until we tell them to stop." That will take our sport to the top!
                      But he does have a point about the distance being pretty irrelevant. Who ever looks at a time for a cross country race and think wow, that was fast. Conditions and courses vary dramatically and the thing that is is cool about the event is the racing itself not the distance.

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                      • #26
                        The crucial (well OK, important) thing here is the general feel the sport conveys to anyone who comes in contact with it. I don't want to turn this into another metric/English debate, but for those who live normal American lives, meters is by and large a completely foreign language, and Americans aren't big on foreign languages. Keep people in their comfort zone. Why is that such a difficult concept?

                        Yes, the distance in XC is largely irrelevant. Irrelevant to hard-core fans who know what times mean/don't mean. And since it's irrelevant, why not put it in a language for the common man, since it's something they'll hear every time they come in contact with it?

                        Let me try another analogy. Higher up I mentioned that metric distances were like going to a play in a foreign language. That's not completely right. Once you're watching a race (track or XC), it changes from a play to a concert, and the song can be just as beautiful in any language. So that's fine for the people who are there. But for the bulk of the people, their exposure to the sport is devoid of the music part. So the language has to stay English. That make any sense?

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                        • #27
                          Garry is right and the hurdler guy from Lizardville is wrong. that is all.
                          phsstt!

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                          • #28
                            What I am struggling with is who are these people that will be affected in a positive way by this change? What demographic do they fall into? Is there a greater than 0.00001 % chance that they will EVER pay attention to cross country regardless of whether the distance is reported as 10k, 6 miles or 48 furlongs?

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                            • #29
                              I'd definitely support a change to 6 miles (men) and 4 miles (women).

                              From their jogger friends who might enter the occasional road race, the average person knows that there is some running thing called a 10K, but I agree with GH that the overwhelming majority have no idea how far it is.

                              I also agree that the 6K for women is ridiculous. Even to someone who knows the metric system well, and how it applies to our sport, it is a distance only used in collegiate cross country. At least one can compare a 5K cross time to one on the track and have a general idea of how fast someone is. The only think I know about a 6K time is that a collegiate woman is running very well if she breaks 20 minutes, but it's tough for even solid running fans to get a rough per/mile idea of that pace.

                              I don't think women should run 10K cross country at the NCAA level, but again, that's a different discussion

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by gh
                                The crucial (well OK, important) thing here is the general feel the sport conveys to anyone who comes in contact with it. I don't want to turn this into another metric/English debate, but for those who live normal American lives, meters is by and large a completely foreign language, and Americans aren't big on foreign languages. Keep people in their comfort zone. Why is that such a difficult concept?

                                Yes, the distance in XC is largely irrelevant. Irrelevant to hard-core fans who know what times mean/don't mean. And since it's irrelevant, why not put it in a language for the common man, since it's something they'll hear every time they come in contact with it?

                                Let me try another analogy. Higher up I mentioned that metric distances were like going to a play in a foreign language. That's not completely right. Once you're watching a race (track or XC), it changes from a play to a concert, and the song can be just as beautiful in any language. So that's fine for the people who are there. But for the bulk of the people, their exposure to the sport is devoid of the music part. So the language has to stay English. That make any sense?
                                100% correct.

                                Frankly, this is the kind of change that costs NOTHING to do, with no real downside at all. Why NOT give it a try?

                                For what it's worth, I always have--and always will--reject the notion that "all" measuring systems are meaningless to Americans. Whether or not the average American could guestimmate a mile on the road to our statistical satisfaction, the key is that the term and idea of "the mile" are far more familiar than "the kilometer" will ever be in any of our lifetimes.

                                As long as US runners continue to quantify their race results by "mile pace," we remain hard-wired to thinking in imperial measure. Period.

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