The Pecking Order

It sounds somewhat crude for a generally thought of altruistic all-supporting athletic pursuit as Endurance Running. But that a pecking order exists, which includes even the most isolated of runners, is indeed factual. That this pecking order is one that inspires and elevates as opposed to being based on a more traditional hierarchical view of supremacy is something I would also staunchly posit based on my own experience in our sport.

Put simply, everyone has someone that he or she looks up to. I want to run like B. Who in turn wants to run like Q. Who in turn looks up to A. And so on. There are even, dare I say it, likely to be runners who aspire to run like I do.

But here’s where the fun comes in. Rather than being a sport where those higher up look down on those who are slower, we each seem intrinsically called upon to cheer each other on and we each answer that call without fail. We genuinely want to see our cohorts succeed at their own goals. As opposed to being threatened by another’s success, the stronger runners are invariably more than willing to share tips, encourage, and applaud the not-yet-as-strong.

You see it all the time. The Elite cheering on the Boston Qualifiers. The Boston Qualifiers cheering on those who are knocking on the door to their on BQ dreams. All the way down to the entire field fervently pulling for the last place finisher to cross the line. For last place, far from being ignoble, is still very much a heroic achievement. It still shows a depth of determination, of doggedness, of will to overcome.

And I would assert too that this relationship of support is inherently reciprocal. That those who are slower are also sources of inspiration to those who are faster. For improvements, by anyone, are not merely the fruits of hard labour; they are the very portents of potential and possibility. When others succeed, it inspires belief in each of us that so too can we.

We are our own heroes, we runners.

Congratulations one and all.

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8 comments

  1. shawnasob · · Reply

    Like always Rod very well written and true! While in the topic I want to share that reading about your running inspires me. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Shawn! I really appreciate that! And I really hope we get to run together one day soon ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  2. Truly one of my favourite aspects about this sport – the support everyone gives to each other. I still find it incredibly exciting when someone I know has a fantastic run experience. A friend of mine (who I may have pushed into running a little!) just did her first half marathon last Sunday. I was so excited to cheer her on at the finish line and she was so proud of her accomplishment. Only a few days later she found out that she has very, very early stage breast cancer. One of her first questions to the Dr? Could she still register for the Army Run Half and the Road2Hope Half. She knows that the running and the running community will support her through this illness. Best news, her dr. said go for it!

    1. Kristi, thank God the doctors caught your friend’s cancer so early. We are all definitely pulling for her! I admire her courage and her attitude. Please pass on my best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery and my congratulations for her success at the HM as you see fit.

  3. I love this post Rod. One reason why I got hooked on running is the encouragement, the warmth and the caring that comes from others. In my 6 races that were a 1/2 marathon and up, 4 of them had runners slow and adjust their pace to mine, so we could run together for a fairly good chunk of the race. Three of these runners, I had never met before.
    I see the warmth in this blog, runners I have never met, yet I feel we are friends. Even through this blog I met “Kristi” (love her comment above), who linked over, after I guess reading one of my comments.
    I met John Stanton at the expo for Around the Bay. Like the guru for running in Canada, I had a friendly chat with. I was standing by myself, while the person I was with was looking over some stuff at one of merchant booths. I guess John’s booth was nearby, and he came over and started talking. A very genuine man.
    Sorry I have been rambling, but a great post. Thank you for sharing Rod! ๐Ÿ™‚
    ~Carl~

    1. It is a great group to be in for sure, we runners. In my last race a man I had never met shook everyone’s hands before the race. At least all of us around him. He was returning to the marathon after a number of years away but was still very strong. He slowed at times to talk with me and cheer me on. After about 10km I told him to keep going without me. But he was still there a couple of hours later at the finish to shake my hand and congratulate me ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

      1. Wow, that is so cool. Would love to thank this mans hand, just to say thank you. Such an encourager and inspiration.

  4. Great blog entry Rod!! It so very true, I’m all of the help and
    Motivation I’ve got from the running community has been great!

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