Winning is not everything -

Posted by James Greenwood | 9:34 AM | View Comments

Winning is not everything (we all have that a million times), but it is definitely something.

Just ask Arien O'Connell, who come out of nowhere to run the fastest time in last weekends Nike - San Francisco Womens Marathon and Half marathon.

"So what is the problem?", I hear you ask. Well, because she was not competing in the Elite group of runners, her winning time of 2:55:11 ( 11 minutes ahead of the fastest Elite athlete) was not officially recognized as the winning time, and the spoils of victory were awarded to the top Elite ladies.

Now the event organizers do have their reasons for not recognizing O'Connnell as the winner.

Their reasoning is that because the Elite racers started 20 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, their race should be considered a different event. They also say that the Elite field races against itself, and cannot be expected to be thinking about challenges coming from the Open field.

Some good points indeed.

However, isn't the point of a race to see who can get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible? That is my take on racing.

Yes, strategy plays a role in determining the victor in almost all sporting events, and the athletes do play cat-and-mouse with each other.

But all things aside - in my books, the person who covered the 42.2km in the shortest time is the winner.

So, after Arien O"Connell was told by event organizers that her enormous winning margin (and PB time), counted for nothing, she was understandably distraught to not even get a mention for her massive effort.

Subsequently, there has been a large amount of backpedaling from the Organizers and Nike.

O'Connell has been declared "joint winner" of the race (remember the winner of the Elite race ran 11 minutes slower than she did).

The Organizers of the event and Nike have decided that the 2009 edition will be a mass start occasion, which will the Elites and some amateurs rubbing shoulders (perhaps the Elite runners will actually think about racing).

Today saw a report in the New York times speculating whether other events sponsored by Nike (such as the New York Half Marathon), might also do away with the mass starts.

Oh yes, the times they are a changin'...

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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