Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Most Interesting Runner in the World

Sometimes it's best to stay hidden in plain sight.--David Estes

Running, particularly recreational running, is one of the loneliest sports. It's almost religious the way runners religiously go for a run. In general, there is no congregation. People will run alone and whether they are back of the pack, mid-pack or elite, they have those lonely miles with only their thoughts.

The cool thing is whether you are talking about a mid-packer like me or a world champion like Mo Farah, oftentimes we end up on the same lonely roads as some of the sports brightest stars. It's funny that I mention greats like Mo Farah because he is a national hero in the UK. He has an unbelievable following on social media and he is basically a celebrity. But he is the exception and not the rule.

Despite being in the midst of a second running boom, roughly 55 million people that said they ran at least once last year, and 27 million runners that completed a race, running is a very niche sport. Many of our stars like Sallie McRae, Scott Jurek, Shalane Flanagan, or Ryan Hall may be able to walk into a Whole Foods, Starbucks, or Barnes and Noble and not get a second thought. One time I saw Mary Cain shopping in a store and no one had a clue who she was while I was like holy crap.

This is not a story about the lonely runner or looking for more publicity. I am simply making an observation that these amazing stars of our beautiful community are physically incredible but only lauded by us. Similar to my past vocation in finance, there were absolute rock stars of the hedge fund and money management world. These people are immensely talented and incredibly wealthy but they wouldn't garner a second glance feeding birds in Central Park.

Many of us have guilty pleasures and we fully understand cult followings. "Born to Run" and "Eat and Run" has created cult followings for Scott Jurek. No Farah probably has the most social media followers with about 1.2 million on Twitter but LeBron James has over 15 million. They are both equally important to their countries and their sports but running is not a spectator sport. You don't watch running, you run.

I love being part of this cult-like group of short-short wearing, technical tee sporting, Lycra warriors. It feels like the best kept secret.

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