by Mia Behm
A few quotes from immediate family members showing their support for my running
“If you’ve seen one [race], you’ve seen them all”
“Watching races is really boring, especially cross country”
“I like the distance races, but I can’t stand watching the sprinting”
The interesting thing about running is that to a lot of people, it’s not that interesting. I don’t take offense because it makes sense, I mean there are a lot of competition-type events I’m not interested in because I have no stake in them and/or they don’t have any sentimental value to me (like Nascar). I spent a large chunk of my running career making sure to emphasize that people really didn’t have to come and watch me race. “It’s ok you really don’t have to come, it’ll probably be pretty boring” was usually what I told people (most still came because most people are pretty nice).
But I’ve been thinking, there must be a way to intrigue all those people who currently dislike or are indifferent to running. So I came up with a couple of ideas that, in an alternate universe, could really turn people into running fans:
Version 1: Instead of lanes on a track, it’s lanes into a maze where the entire crowd can see the beginning to the end where the runner can successfully get out. Really the only rule would be that you couldn’t stop running until you were out of the maze. Instead of different distances in track like the 200m or the 5k, there would just be different degrees of difficulty (which would essentially determine about how long you’re running).
Version 2: (This is kind of an extension of the steeple) The race around the track would just be an elaborate obstacle course with different things to climb over and various hoops of fire to jump through.
Version 3: (this version is actually realistic and an idea courtesy of Mark Feigen). It would be called the “Knock-Out” race. In this style of racing, the number of competitors in an event would match the number of laps around the track. After each lap, the person in last place would be knocked off of the track. This would give the race much more strategy, as well as force each individual lap to be exciting. Then the winner is the last man standing…or running, rather.
While these alternate versions are under review, there are a few small details that could be explored to help enhance the meet experience. Simple changes tailored to the host city of a meet would help. For example if meets in Austin sold quinoa and locally grown vegetables inside the stadium, attendance might increase by as much as 40%.
Something I would like to see just because? Names on our racing singlets. Baseball, football, and soccer players all get to have their names on their jerseys. I think it’d be pretty cool if we did too.
Anyway, just some thoughts on the sport of running.