A recent event has led my thinking towards the notion of being a good sport, fair play and honesty while competing in races. With competition comes competitiveness and this combined with human nature lends itself towards at times the notion of doing what needs to be done to get a good result no matter what. Personally I moved away from team sport due to over competitiveness that leads to bad sports, referee abuse, excuses covering up poor play and so on. This was something that I not only did not like but something I did not want to be associated with, you know the saying “that team are cheats, that team is dirty”. Running to me was an answer for my need to be competitive but in a fair and honest manner, that was the norm but there have been some situations contrary to this.
I like running for fun, but I believe no matter what the race that there are certain expectations of myself as a runner,
- Try and follow the course,
- Don’t deliberately impede another runner,
- If I get an unfair advantage for example covering less distance than the rest of the field due to a wrong turn, do not ever take another runners position, especially on the podium.
- Be fair to everyone, say hello, allow people past and don’t make anyone feel put off or intimidated by the way I run particularly on narrow or technical trail where passing opportunities can be minimal.
I strongly feel that if these principles can’t be met then I need to give up, I’d be running for the wrong reasons. So when I see it happen it annoys me, it really does need to be addressed, discussed and thought about. By it, I mean people behaving poorly in and after races. So examples of this, some have been directly involving me some not,
- People entering an event with multiple distances available on staggered starting times, running stupid and then dropping into a lower distance event and claiming a win. Not fair when the events start at different times and the other runners aren’t aware of the new entrant and are racing those around them. Tough it out in the race you entered or DNF.
- Running the course and taking a wrong turn which leads to a shorter run than the rest of the field. When you finish, claim the win as though you have run the whole course, that’s a victory I couldn’t claim, enjoy the guilt.
- When there is an opportunity to take a short cut taking it. If you are coming 17th in a 100km race the pleasure of having a 100km run under your belt is the reward, this would be cheapened when your Garmin says 97.5km because you cut every corner you could. I was shocked to witness someone doing this in a race last year!
These are a few things I have noticed, other things like dropping rubbish on the trails, being rude when passing and whinging about getting lost because “it’s the race director’s fault” are others that can be added but are different questions of character. If you can’t manage yourself on the trail, run roads!
There has been many examples of great competitive behaviour, so many times I have been called back onto trail by other competitors when taking a wrong turn, allowed to pass and so on. This is why I continue to run and love trail running so much.
All races have 1st through to last, we all compete for various reasons and enjoy finishing high up the ladder no matter the event. From fun runs to sky runs, races organised by local running groups to international bodies with prizes from cash to gear, people will turn up trying to do their best. Most will be honest and in trail events it is rare that I see something to the contrary but I have seen it. These people ruin it for others, they are the types who would use PEDS, refill their drink more than once at Subway, not turn in money they found and get in a shout and leave before their round…but seriously it is not needed and next time I witness it I will be speaking up. Because the race director’s trust the competitors on the trails and when this trust is abused it ruins it for all.
So I will leave it at that, lets talk about this issue and when we are on the trails lets be competitive but not overly so, because we don’t want to be that sport… Look at what drugs has done to cycling, seriously!