After all the doom and gloom of Modafinil, THG, etc., I thought I would
share my weekend experience with you all to let you know that, on at least
some level, all is right with our sport.
12 years ago, a Montana runner by the name of Ray Hunt founded a cross
country meet called the Montana Cup. It is an open race that is based on a
city versus city format. That is, the 7 major cities of Montana (of course
using the words major, cities and Montana in the same sentence is a bit of a
stretch) field teams. You run for the team of the city nearest to where you
live (i.e. a runner from Belgrade runs for the Bozeman team). You can have
an unlimited number of runners on your team, but only the top 5 score, with
6 and 7 displacing other teams scoring runners. Much like regular high
school XC. Speaking of high school XC, the meet is always held the weekend
after the state meet so that the high school runners can participate and not
run afoul of state association issues.
At any rate, the meet rotates from city to city each year, and Billings had
the pleasure of hosting the meet this year. And here is what we had.
A total of 66 runners (44 men, 22 women). 5 full men's team, 3 full women's
Runners from the ages of 14 to 62.
3 Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifiers
The 2002 Big Sky Conference XC Champion
2 members of the Montana State XC team that placed 11th in the 2002 NCAA's
Several All-State Prep athletes
Athletes who drove up to 420 miles to compete in a 6,600 meter race
Brothers and sisters
Mothers and daughters
Fathers and sons
For some, this was their second race of the day
All of this for some individual trophies and the traveling Montana Cup for
the winning teams.
These were athletes who were out for the love of the sport. Some were
recreational runners. Some were national caliber athletes. All were out to
enjoy a race and experience some competition.
Yes, we all get jaded by the drug scandals, rabbited WR efforts, shortened
crossbar pegs, whether or not walks should stay in the sport, and all the
other hoopla at the top end of the sport.
But, when it comes right down to it, there are a heck of a lot of us out
there who just like to go out and run. Nothing more, nothing less. Just
line us up, shoot the gun, and see who comes in first. We're not worried if
so and so is clean or dirty. We don't care who they're coached by. We
aren't worried about whether or not we should be at this race or that one
because it might affect my T&FN rankings/at-large berth/shoe contract/agent
take/etc.. We're just here to try to see old friends and make some new
ones, run each other into the ground, then all have a beer and some pizza
So yes, we have the ugly, dark and seemly side of the sport. But, when it
really comes down to it. There are still those who are involved in the
sport for nothing more than the pure joy of seeing who can run the fastest
from point A to point B. And I was blessed with the ability to see that
side of the sport this weekend.