I disagree, Ms. Wang

On Sat, 5 Dec 2009 an article appeared in the ST beside Mok’s picture. It was written by triathlete Jeannete Wang, and titled “Plodders have place in Marathons” (I have the article if you want to read it). The basic gist of her commentary is that sportsmen should not look down on people who walk during races because people have many reasons for running. As long as they train and they are exercising their right to partake in a healthy lifestyle (a “selfless” reason), she says, then walkers have a place in marathons.

I disagree.

(It’s interesting how this article discusses an event – the marathon – as if it has become the next Singapore pastime. It correctly recognizes something we always complain about: walkers at races. Some of us probably remember Passion Run this year. Walkers were quite annoying for me during last year’s Stan Chart. As the article implies, Singaporeans are participating in more races. But someone needs to really ask the question: so what if more Singaporeans are participating? Are they really running? Or just going for a morning run with some freebies?)

That aside, I do agree on the basic principle of the article. Everyone has a reason for running. Can’t disagree with that.

I don’t agree with the tone & the idea that if you’ve trained for a run, you’re running for the right reason. These are assumptions which, I suppose, come from an elite athlete’s point of view. We have this condescending mentality that everyone else around us during a race – the walkers, those uncles at the starting line – have all trained, but they’re y’know, just-not-very-de-good-enough for us elite athletes. I’m guilty of this bad attitude too.

But when the writer of the article disses people who run because they want to walk and then wear the finishers’ shirt, she forgets – just like all of us – that when you run for achievement, it’s still a selfish reason. Whether or not you complete a marathon in six hours or in two, fixation on achievement still makes it selfish.

But I prefer to talk less, do more. I’m not writing a commentary here. Just a short reminder to all, that what you want to achieve is purely your own. But being part of a team is  much more valuable than that shiny piece of metal or good electronic timing. So we help each other improve.

I don’t like running marathons anyway.

(Disclaimer: views expressed here are all the author’s own, & don’t reflect that of the team or the organization)


3 thoughts on “I disagree, Ms. Wang

  1. Just to add on, what i feel is that ultimately running is a sport that even the elite athletes will feel that it’s a sport that strengthens character n mental strength.

    Whether they walk or run, it’s a personal achievement to complete an marathon. But no matter what, pls dun run for the sake of freebies. I think the sport deserves more dignity and pride than that.

    And i agree that nothing beats running for ur team. who knows your presence, though not very good in terms of timing, may just make a difference for others in other ways.

    just my humble words.

  2. Gimme five! I don’t like marathons either. But you know, coincidentally I was talking about this with some of the cross fellas not too long ago.

    Anyone can finish a marathon, but it’s the intent that counts. Is there meaning to finishing a marathon just so you can get the finisher t-shirt and wear it for bragging rights?

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