Yesterday afternoon, as I ran down the street, I saw a young guy in his late teens/early-20’s approaching me on the sidewalk going the opposite direction. I expected a variety of interactions, ranging from nonchalance (i.e., ignoring each other) to a brief “Hi, how ya doin’.” What I did not expect was for this guy to start mocking me. He swung his arms high and said in a high-pitched voice something about running. (I couldn’t make out what he was saying. It was probably stupid anyway.) I shot him a dirty look and told him to get lost, more or less. He continued to mock me as he “ran” past me. I turned around and shot him the bird as I ran off. “What a jerkface!” I thought to myself.
Then I started thinking about some of the random anti-running sentiment that I’ve seen lately. True, the creep I ran into yesterday probably would’ve mocked me for whatever I was doing, even if I was just walking down the street in normal clothes, but it’s disturbing to me how many people seem to hate runners. I never really picked up on this until recently. Sure, there’s a lot of indifference and apathy towards running — I get that. But, especially in the controversy surrounding the NYC Marathon, the ugly truth came out: people hate runners. Suddenly, anyone who dared to show up for the NYCM was deemed “selfish” and “unfeeling.” Runners were said to only cared about “running around in their underwear” through the five boroughs of NYC. (BTW, those are actual quotes from people interviewed by the New York Times.)
The thing is, I understand why they canceled the NYCM, and I think it was a good choice. Still, it disturbs me that some people don’t get that it was disappointing for the would-be marathoners to devote so much time, energy (physical and mental), and resources toward the NYCM, only to have it cancelled. I know that it doesn’t compare to the devastation that Hurricane Sandy has caused, but this is not about comparisons. It’s about painting a group of people as villains, for no reason other than because they are easy targets. Why weren’t tourists or the people attending NBA and NFL games demonized? How many of those people devoted time to help Sandy victims, like the runners who flew in from all over the country and the world?
I was talking to the Gypsy Runner about this last night. I asked him why people hate runners. He replied that some people think running is pointless. Well, maybe so, but it isn’t hurting anyone. I could see that major road races are a disturbance and create a lot of waste, but the actual act of running? Why would anyone hate that?
Anyway, this was just a rant I had in my head and I felt the need to get it out. Thanks for listening.