There will be a poll for you to vote at the end of this article. It’s been a while since I went on a rant so here we go and PLEASE read carefully what I am trying to make clear. I was speaking with a friend of mine last night who happens to be an ultra trail runner. Let me preface this article with an explanation of said friend. He HATES pavement running and becomes extremely defensive when anything positive is said about the subject. I really don’t want to beat him up too badly though because he’s not a bad guy.
Last night he made the assertion that if you took the best professional ultra trail runners, they would beat any of the best pavement marathoners on the street. I am not going to sit here and tell you that one type of running is better or worse than another, with the exception of parkour, which is just idiotic. Whatever floats your boat is fine with me. But what I will argue is that you can’t find ANY ultra trail runner that can beat someone like Ryan Hall (PR 2:04:53) in a 26.2 mile pavement run. By the same token I would never put Ryan Hall in a 50 mile race filled with tree roots and loose gravel and expect him to beat the best ultra trail runner. As a general rule, when comparing runners of like ability, asphalt runners won’t beat trail runners in their world and trail runners can’t beat us in ours. They are two different types of running, that’s all I am saying. Oh, but that wasn’t good enough for my friend as he responded continuously with “I don’t believe that.” He still insists that there are ultra trail runners that can beat our best pavement runners in a street marathon. Good luck with that.
Those of you in the ultra running community, I request that you don’t take offense when I make my next statement because I know many of you and what I have to say does not apply to everyone. Trust me, I do admire the ability that many of you possess. Having said that, I find among a segment of the ultra running community, that they have an inferiority complex and staged arrogance, if not a self-convinced, inflated sense of self-worth which always seems to have them chasing praise from anyone who will listen. Dean Karnazes is a great example. Don’t know who he is? Maybe that’s why these people are so insecure. One of the top ultra runners, he has been repeatedly accused of exaggerating some of his past race times and providing no proof to back them up. When he fails at what he sets out to do, he instantly becomes royalty – the king of excuses. Sure, he’s run A LOT of miles and has some very impressive accomplishments, but his arrogance is based on finding a pointless goal that most others would not want to attempt and then engage in incessant self-promotion. Sorry Dean and ultra runners like you, I would gladly put you up against Ryan Hall in a 26.2 mile pavement race ANY day of the week and watch you get your butt kicked. For those of you that fall into that category I have this to say, SHUT UP AND RUN! Running encompasses many things, athletic performance, competition, health and an inner peace just to name a few. What it should not be about is trying satisfy some lifelong insecurity by having an enormous ego and browbeating praise from others. I’ll agree to stay out of the ultra trail running world competitively if the group that I speak of agrees to leave their obvious shortcomings at the door and just run their sport. Unfortunately, I am likely asking the impossible.
Run for fun and race to place everyone! (Yes, ultra running friends too)