Friday, October 4, 2013

Why We Need to Keep Supporting Elite Athletes

When Competitor Group dropped elite funding, there was a small outcry but I honestly felt the bigger response was, who cares?. Competitor will still sell race entries and will still expand their brand. Not supporting elite athletes will not hurt their bottom line. Maybe, at first, they had a bit of criticism though that will begin to fade as the average runner forgets that they are not lining up with the best and just races his own race. So why should we even support top athletes? The answer is rather makes us all better athletes and helps us to push our own limits, even beyond sport. This is a fact. I'm not talking about what type of money these athletes bring to an event; I'm talking about something greater. The fact is that when we witness and acknowledge people achieving impossible times or crossing the line in victory with true emotion and challenges each and everyone of us to think, “maybe I could go a little bit harder?”.

Without the constant struggle and fight to raise the bar, we may think that we are doing enough. If I see a mom of 3 running a sub-2:40, I'm thinking holy, crickets, I could be capable of that. When the number 2:15:25 flashes in my head, Paula Radcliffe's marathon record, I'm thinking Well, I should have no problem running a sub-2:43. It gives us hope and inspiration. I dig deeper knowing there are girls out there consistently running around the low 2:20s and every time I witness the struggle, fight, and tears of top athletes squeezing the most out their bodies, I work a little harder. Anyone witnessing a great sporting moment, whether in football or running, gets a little spark, a little thought that maybe they have the power to do something as great, maybe not in sport but definitely in life.

I'm tired of people saying that elite runners or triathletes do not bring anything to the sport...shame on you! If the fastest finishing time in an ironman triathlon was 10 hours, you maybe would think your 13-hour finshing time was fast enough, that your training was 'probably' the best you could do but the fastest record time in an ironman distance triathlon is a 7:41:33. A 7:41:33. You have to respect the work it took to get the body to go that fast for that long. It is astonishing and humbling. Yes, you may challenge me with saying how inspired you are of the 4hour marathon finisher who battled cancer and ran with only one leg carrying the American flag the entire race, it is inspiring and will always bring me to tears and I give applause a million times over to that person and their undying human spirit, but watching humans push their bodies to the ultimate limit will always grant our attention. It is in our history, our blood. The battle of the greatest, strongest, fastest will always garner our attention and respect. We want people training their bodies to perform to the absolute max because it is wonderful and motivating and just plain entertaining. We need to keep the support going for top athletes! Even if it sparks only the slightest moment of appeal in our little minds that appeal and intrigue can be the catalyst to our own personal greatest.