Monday, March 19, 2012

Marathon runners are arrogant, narcissistic, self centred babies


Hello Marathoners, hows it going? Right now many of you are preparing for Boston a race you have wasted countless hours on and or years in training to finally get that qualifying time for. Congratulations, it takes a certain type of sucker to swallow the Boston pitch hook line and sinker. I know you think you have achieved something, working so hard to get some made up arbitrary time that gives you a false sense of accomplishment. Its amazing that you can run a marathon in a time that is actually by any real standard incredible slow and still beam with pride just because some race director tells you that your awesome. Its really pathetic that you need such a thing in order to have those feelings of being better then others. But hey now you can strut like a peacock waving your Boston bib around and propping up your arrogantly swollen head. For those of you that failed to make your BQ or were so slow you didn't even try don't worry you still have many years of wasting your time jumping for the brass ring like a trained seal. Maybe someday you will make it too and be able to prance around in your Boston Jacket letting everyone know just how incredible you think you are.

So did that make you mad? No, then maybe you should go back and read it again, I will wait. How about now? Did this make your blood boil? Are you ready to track me down and lynch me, leave a nasty comment or stop following my blog. Good welcome to my world as an ultra runner.

To be clear everything you just read is a lie. I don't believe any of it but I wanted to see your reaction. I wanted you to understand that words are a powerful thing. Even though I am telling you its a lie some will still be pissed off at me but I wanted you to step into my world for a few minutes. You see according to some out there in the running community I am not a real runner. Apparently because I run trail and love ultra racing I somehow am of less value than a marathoner. I mean we all know that those guys are the real runners. Oh sorry only the marathoners that are fast. I am not talking to all you slow marathoners, in fact if some had their way you wouldn't be allowed to race at all. Oh sorry did I say race, my mistake in the view of some you are not racing. Hell you are way to slow to race.

Apparently I missed the board meeting of the Running A-Hole club which oversees the running world and decides who is a legitimate runner and who is not. I wish someone had told me earlier before I wasted my time running on average 6 days a week and more then 13,000 km in the past 3 years. If I had known I would not have punished myself with all those hill repeats, tempo intervals and track sessions. What a waste of time when I could have been warming my ass on the couch.

In the last few months I have dipped slightly back into the road world and although there is a great deal that is good about road running there is also a holier then thou ugly side that you rarely see in the trail running world. It seems that the endless pursuit of shaving seconds or minutes off of a race time causes some people to go a bit mental.

First there was a blog by Tim Tollefson crossfit vs ultrarunning. which is more nauseating, then a blog/article in Canadian Running Magazine called 5 prescriptions for saving the sport. Then most recently a blog by a runner in my club called Slow Down

For the life of me I cant understand why runners feel the need to attack other runners. Maybe they want attention or it makes them feel superior. It's even worse when the claims fall to stand up to any kind of real scrutiny. So lets try that.

Tollefson Article
This one didn't bother me much at all but it sure upset a lot of Ultra Runners. He tries to play the whole thing off as a joke and I took it as such. The only problem is that its not funny, not at all. Maybe if you found Full House or Saved by The Bell funny you laughed at this one too. I see this as funny the same way a jock bully at school finds it "funny" when he gives the smaller less athletic kid a wedgie. Its not funny its just pathetic but it sure makes him feel good.

Houston we have a problem. Oh and Tim you know all that crap you wrote running down the ultra elites? You are a great runner but I saw the results from the Marathon Olympic trials in Houston and you finished behind a number of crappy ultra guys. Some running times from some "crappy ultra runners" at the Houston trials:

Josh Cox (US 50k record holder) 2:13:50, Max King (2011 US Mountain Running World Champion) 2:14:36, Michael Wardian (2011 IAU 100k World Championships silver medalist) 2:21:50, Ryan Bak (Second place team at 2011 GORE-TEX TransRockies Run (with Max King)) 2:15:12, Chris Lundstrom (3rd 2009 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile championships) 2:22:03.

Kind of Ironic don't you think? Oh well you will get them next time.

I am not going to comment on the Canadian Running Blog right now as I have devoted an entire blog to it. I was going to be posting that one today until Dan Ways recent blog. I will put it up in the very near future but will add that I didn't realize that the sport was in trouble and needed a cure. I was out on a run yesterday and everything seemed fine.

So then we had Dan's blog. Now I don't care to much about the barefoot running part or most of the other content. The part I care about is what was said about Ultra Running and Ultra Runners. I have included this in Italics below.

The doc also highlighted another fad in running; that being the ultra-‘running’ craze. Calling this running being a stretch. There are a number of 'real' ultras like Comrades and Two Oceans, in which people actually race and run fast for long, consecutive periods of time. Some people have come to be very good at them and I have a great deal of respect for these athletes. Then there are 'other' Ultras which involve climbing up mountains, through forests, across deserts, the Arctic, or the Amazon. These events don't really emphasize running at all and are really just a combination of walking, hiking, jogging, mountaineering, and orienteering at a slightly faster pace than most normal people would do them and an excuse to eat and drink as much as one desires. They are unnecessary and unnatural acts of attrition that feature elevated egos, delusional self-discovery, masochism and melodramatics. And they too are growing in popularity.

So clearly a lot here to get even the most stoic Ultra runner fuming. Relax there ain't nothing in this opinion that a little bit of factual deconstruction cant expose. Maybe you think this opinion is brilliant or maybe you think its moronic but I leave that up to you.

Ultra Running is a Fad - Sure it is just like marathoning. The Western States 100 was first run in 1977. The NYC marathon was first run in 1970. Boston was first run in 1897 but was not open to be run by the general public. Boston allowed women to run in 1972. Are we to argue that womens marathoning is also a fad? I would not call anything with a 35 year history a fad but hey to each his own. Comrades was first run in 1921 but for some reason thats a "real ultra".

Two Oceans and Comrades are "real ultras". So I guess that's because they are run on road? Or is it the distance? If someone walks in Comrades are they disqualified? What about if they walk in Boston? What exactly defines these as real? As far as I can tell these are only real because road runners tend to run them. I guess for some that makes them more legitimate then Leadville or UTMB. IF you think that some don't run fast and long at Western States well that is just a product of ignorance. Also fast is relative someone running a marathon in 2:10 would not see a 3 hour marathoner as fast at all. Oh and just for the record one of the best Canadian road runners out there M. Leduc ran Comrades and was reduced to walking at 45km although he still finished in 8 hours. He walked some, my god what is wrong with that guy. I don't know how he looks at himself in the mirror in the morning.

Other "ultras" - These don't emphasis running. According to who? Just because you say it and you don't get it doesn't make it true. Almost everyone in these races runs as fast as they can in order to complete the distance. If you think they do it slightly faster pace then most normal people would then well I got no reply for that one (except that all runners are normal people). If you want to ignore what happens to ones body in these events thats fine but it leaves me with a simple question.

If I can run a 15 minute 5k then I can run a 1:03 HM right? I mean I just have to run the same pace. If I can run a 1:03 HM then obviously I can run a 2:06 marathon right? No? Why not? Why is it that the marathon crowd can understand that physiologically a runner is not able to run their 5k pace for 42.2k. Its widely excepted and we all understand that this is because physically the way our bodies work make this impossible. Yet the same people seem to not understand the same biological rules when it comes to ultras. They are run at a slower pace because they have to be. You could run them faster at the start, tearing up and down every hill but you will crash and burn. Just like you could race out of the gate at 5k pace in your next marathon, I say give it a try and see how that works out for you. Why is pacing in a marathon (read going slower then you can run) totally alright but having to do the same thing in an ultra something different?

They are unnecessary and unnatural acts of attrition that feature elevated egos, delusional self-discovery, masochism and melodramatics
Kettle meet pot, pot meet kettle.

And they too are growing in popularity. - Yes they are and its making it really hard to get into Western States. The reason they are growing is many Marathoners eventually come to a place in their running lives where the importance and or obsession of clocking a slightly faster time holds no value for them. They are actually more interested in running to run instead of clock watching and there is no where more natural to do that then on a trail.

So if you are one of those out there that seem to think that you are somehow superior to those that choose to run other races, other distances, different terrain or happen to be slower due to age, injury or genetics I would suggest that you reread the title of this blog. Its actually meant for you.

53 comments:

  1. I agree with you Chris. It's a dangerous place to declare exclusiveness in any realm - sport, business, religion, politics. If exclusiveness was a value to be applied to running, where do you start & who decides what the rules are? Do we begin to say only skinny people are allowed to run or race? Only seeing-people, only fully-abled bodies? No kids? No women? No people with mental disabilities? And we should in turn only award what one sect of society deems "the best?"

    The odd thing about running is that it has such a low barrier to entry. That is, you basically need a pair of running shoes to partake. Coincidentally the growth in running has NOT been propelled by only one select group. Guess what? It's propelled by all sorts of folks, fat, skinny, old, young, slow, fast, ugly, pretty...

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    1. thanks Diane. Yes that is my point who does decide what is real running and race. Its interesting to see the overall reaction. Interesting and scary

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  2. Great Blog. Fully agree!

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  3. Very funny. I have qualified for Boston twice (once by 15 min) but have no desire to go. I also figure that if I can qualify on a whim then it must not be a very tough goal.

    I'd rather spend my travel money on places like Colorado (or um I am going to Ottawa to meet maniacs).

    I forget the name of the guy who won WS, but wasn't he running 7.x min miles? Wasn't the top female running 8.x min miles? (I could be wrong). But Holy Cow that speed for 100 miles on a trail thru mountains is incredible.

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  4. seems to be a lot of people that are angry at me over on the running world forum. Sort of interesting, not what I was going for but not completely unexpected. Some of them are ripping me even though they didnt read the blog post. Now thats kind of weird.

    Apparently I am not only not a runner I am also a TROLL. I guess its back under the bridge for me.

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  5. Chris, I ran Limberlost in 2011 and caught up to you as you limped in on a bad leg.... I have run Boston (twice) and it was a fabulous experience.... I've run a 50 miler and made a wrong turn to make it 53 miles and wouldn't trade it for the world. Got a 100 miler coming in May and can't wait. Great post and what the heck, someone has to live under the bridge.... just leave room for some of the rest of us!

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    1. Hey todd,
      Dont worry its a big bridge. Sorry to have first seen you during my summer of running / injury hell... lol. Hope to see you out there again this year.

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  6. Don't let them get to you. More trails for us. Those self-centered road runners should remind themselves that they, too, are involved in a fringe sport. After all, most people don't know how long a marathon is. Nobody cares about them or us. Actually, the only non-ultra runners who care about us are those haters. We should be thankful to have an audience! I sure don't give a crap about them elitist bastards!

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  7. Awesome post. I am a "slow" runner who has run 5 km road races up to 125km trail races and have always loved how inclusive the running community is. But sadly the are some within the community who want to be exclusive. The rest of us need to either ignore them or educate them, at the end of the day it just running.

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    1. It is just running. Also we are all slow runners compared to others.

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  8. The conclusion to my prior comment should be : I sure don't give a crap about them elitist bastards. Except for Kara Goucher.

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  9. Well said Chris! And I agree with JD. It's fine with me if people like Dan have such a negative impression of ultras and ultrarunners. More trails for us!!

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    1. Yes I didnt think about that. The trails are busy enough already.

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  10. So nice to have you back to posting. I can't comment on the post as I'm not really in the "community" I'm just trying to get across the finish line of my first 42.2.

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    1. just trying to get across the finish line actually makes you part of the community as far as most of us are concerned. Your training looks like its going well so far, keep it up. You are going to do great

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  11. As lame a comparison as it may seem, Forrest Gump had it right! He just ran! When he was hungry, he eat ... when he was tired, he slept ... and when he had to, you know, he went. It doesn't get much simpler, or more beautiful than that!

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    1. The only true runners are those who can run 100 meters in under 10 seconds. If you can run 1 kilometer in 1:40, you are a true runner. anyone slower is just a crappy has-been jogger...

      Hmmm. I guess there are not that many "runners" after all...

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    2. yep I include myself in the crappy has-been jogger catagory thats for sure. Its actually a nice place to be, full of nice, cool and interesting people

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  12. Awesome post! Historically I've ran on trails more than on roads, I like both trail and road races. All I know is that I just like to run whether it's on trail or roads. I'm not fast enough ever to qualify for Boston, and I couldn't even run the race if I even qualified, since with tax season I can't train much right now. My whole thing is trying to get my marathon time as low as possible, I want to do another marathon to see what I can do.

    Funny part is that the Boston marathon standards aren't really even accurate. If they really want to make them fair, they should use age graded times for each 5 year age group. That would level the playing field.

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    1. working to get those times down is a worth while goal and one many share. I too like both trail and road races although the older I get the more I like trail. It might be that I am getting senile.
      Dont give up on your BQ time, its a good motivator and is reachable.

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  13. Shhh , don’t let the cat out of the bag…keep the trails to ourselves!

    PS , Boston was fun, my race sucked… passed by 10,000 folks (no kidding) but I didn’t care!

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    1. Ron, I have no doubt that boston was great. Like you I am all in for the experience not the time goal. You will have a great time in Paris. Eventually Kim and I are going to run that one again, such a great race and city.

      I dont think I can let the cat out of the bag. Most who dont know already look in the bag and see that its empty even when I point right at the cat.

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  14. Great post Chris, I think the people you are trying to reach will not comprehend nor understand what you are saying though.
    I have never run Boston, am not fast enough to qualify anyway.....I would love to run it though. There is as much desire for that race (in my mind) as many other unreachables.
    I would run Boston, not for recognition or speed or chest thumping, but just because I want to cross that bridge and say (to myself) that I have done it......no different than running Mt Washington (except I got in that one)and my desire to accomplish a 50 miler and possible a 100.

    I know exactly waht you mean though because when I talk to people for the first time and tell them I am a runner, the first thing they seem to ask is "oh, have you run Boston?) I think because it is so well known, when I say no, I get the feeling that they lose a little bit of respect for my running.
    Point is, there is always someone faster and someone slower ..always someone elses opinion, if they are judging you, they are the one with a problem .....in the end it is how you feel personally that counts.
    It is true, trail runners are a much nicer bunch of people.

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    1. thanks,
      Yes I have noticed that reading comprehension goes down when people are angry. even if it didnt i dont think it would be understood by some. They are much more interested in point out that I am slow and an ultra "walker" but to each their own.

      Doesnt matter tho, I thought that some of this need to be said

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  15. I think it was a good blog entry. I qualified for Boston and will go and run it this year and am excited to do so. But I too feel that there's an attitude that sometimes goes with it that I know for sure I won't be bringing back with me. I'm in the 3rd wave and you'd think to the a lot of runners in the first and second waves that I was a leper, lower class, a slow loser who happened to get in. So totally agree with a lot of what you said. Even within the community there's that negative attitude towards other runners... I for one am amazed by ultra runners. I find it fascinating and amazing! Happy running!

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    1. Thanks robin,
      Congrats on your BQ you will have funny in Boston for sure. I understand what your saying completely. Maybe some of your humility will rub off of then but probably not.

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  16. The "Track Men" used to say all the same stuff about marathons that now gets directed at ultras.

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    1. Funny how that works isnt it. Cya out on the trails this year. Has Derrick talked you into doing a 100 yet?

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  17. And here I thought you were the chairman of the Running A-holes Committee?

    I never have understood why runners wanted to hate on other runners. Really all we should be hating on are the couch warmers. and by "hating" I really mean "encouraging".

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    1. So did I. I think there must of been some kind of coup behind my back. Dont worry, it seems this blog post is going to put me back in the chairmans seat.

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  18. Hey Chris...great post! I have recently got back into running and have been following your blog's over the past year. Very entertaning!
    Maybe I will see you at ATB, I will keep an eye out for you!
    Rob Wands(you taught me at Trebas)

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    1. holy crap Rob, great to hear from you. Very cool to see that you are running. MIght see you out there.

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  19. You're making blog posts again? Huzzah! I'm not in the running community at all. I even walk at a slow pace. Regardless, I'm glad to see you still speaking your mind, Teach.

    -Mo (From that school that no one likes)

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    1. Hey mo,
      Hows the job going? you on the west coast? shoot me an email sometime and let me know how its going.

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  20. Loved reading this. Many would say I am not a runner due to my serious lack of speed and it has taken me a long time to even think of myself as a runner. But I run slow/fast/short/long/hills/flats/tempo etc. so..I'm a runner. Deal with it and if the Canadian Running Magazine doesn't want me at races due to my non Sub 4 hr marathon they can suck it.

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  21. thanks Laura,
    Many people got this, unfortunately many others seemed to have not read the whole thing or have some issues with reading comprehension. Thats okay tho. Keep doing what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with being a slower runner (I am not so fast myself). Just get out there and do it.

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  22. Keep on blogging, Chris! Good article:)

    Take care,
    Bert Geyer

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    1. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment Bert.
      cheers

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  23. I am running my first Boston in less than 4 weeks. Don't hate me. :)

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    1. If I had a BQ last year I would going as well. Enjoy every minute of it, you earned it.

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  24. Sooooo.... If an ultra is a fad and the particpants aren't really runners... then someone who does Kona is not really a triathele, right? The people who do sprint distance or olympic distance are the true triatheletes then? You know, because the pace is faster? No? Now that I think about it, I've always thought golfers weren't really atheltes, now I know I'm right. The real atheletes are the mini-putters, you know, because of the pace.

    Great blog Chris. You know when you're blogging, you're not training right? Get ready for Leadville you lazy bastard, we're at least going to run when we see or smell aid stations!

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    1. rcovery week morgan, I got way to much time on my hands.

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  25. I agree with you. I am tired of all of these buttholes in the sport who think they decide what other people should be doing.

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  26. Replies
    1. Yes it is. I am older, slow and have no ACL in my right knee. I have only run the mile once 3 years ago as I am not interested in short distance races. Oh and did I mention that I ran it 3 days after racing my first 50km trail race? Not exactly well rested but hey I am just fine with that.

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  27. I think you got it right when you said that they want to feel superior. Used to be that you could feel better than everyone else if you ran a marathon. Now, lots of people do it and do it in a fashion that some think degrades the "honor" of it. I'm sure most think that my 4:30 marathon doesn't qualify as even running, but jogging. Anyone that has to demean what I'm doing to make them feel better about themselves isn't worth the time of day to me. I'm betting that Ultras are going to be the next big thing. You can only obsess about getting a minute or two faster for so long until it loses meaning and need to search for something more. Thanks for your post!

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  28. I am primarily a road runner - by virtue of the fact that I live in downtown Toronto. However, the little bit of trail running I've done in NC, Vancouver and Southern Ontario has very much whetted my appetite for racing on trails rather than on roads. First and foremost, I prefer the mentality of trail runners and their sense of exploration and joy for running. I like the scenery. I like the community. And I like the sense of freedom I feel when running on trails vs running in a concrete, dull grey metropolis. Perhaps trail running and road running have different measures of success and so different reasons for engaging in them. I don't think one is better than the other. The notion that speed or pace should be the measure by which running's value is measured is unfortunate, particularly considering the limitations of body size, age, and time one is able to devote i.e. professionalism are always going to dictate who can run the fastest. Anyway, whatever. It's often more fun to go through life as part of a niche group rather than as part of what is considered 'normal.'

    Chris, I am quite interested in knowing what training is like for you given that you are in Toronto and don't have easy access to large areas of trails. How much time do you spend on the roads and how much on trails? What does your training schedule look like? I'd love to eventually transition into ultras, although I am just beginning to get into racing now.

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  29. dude, that is quite a statement! check out my post http://runlonger.blogspot.com/2009/12/there-there-marathon-snobs.html.

    It falls into this category.

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  30. Interesting. This is the first time I've ever read your blog and this is the first time I've ever run into this kind of elitist attitude.

    I just run. On roads, in parks, through woods, wherever my feet take me. I don't know how far or how fast. I run for me, my joy, my health, and my kid's future. I've been fortunate to share my runs with like minded people...and those that can only walk, I walk with them because one day they want to run.

    I believe in the gratification that comes from challenging yourself, building yourself up by chasing and achieving goals. I'll never understand, nor do I have time for individuals who try to build themselves up by belittling other's efforts and/or achievements.

    I appreciate you calling out those who would tarnish something so pure and simple that brings joy to so many. Running just is. It's not where we run, or how far, or how fast. What matters is finding the joy in the run.

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  31. I'm not a runner, but I'm fairly athletic and have participated in many team sports (including one at the college level). Since my spouse is a fairly hard-core runner (50k's and multiple marathons in same month) I've had quite a bit of exposure to runners and runner culture. I'd have to say that in general runners are the most narcissistic group of recreational athletes I've ever seen. I've seen a lot of things that demonstrate this, but my favorite example was when one random guy who was running the Marine Corps marathon a few years ago got angry at the spectators for not cheering him enough! Unbelievable.

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