Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athletes


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Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athletes

Postby athleticshushmail » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:00 am

I posted this just to feel sorry for myself. So it's mostly just a long rant. In all of the sporting world, my favorite event is the World Cross Country Championships. T and F had an article talking about how the 2011 junior xc champion and Kenya police 12km senior champion Geoffrey Kipsang, along with veteran runner Eliud Kipchoge are both skipping the Kenyan XC championships in Nairobi (an IAAF permit meet) to race road races for more money instead:
goo.gl/rRdlD

The World XC championships are now every two years, and even lately, as Europeans have been excluded from the top, interest in Europe has died down so much that the television coverage has been suffering. I'm worried that this sport is receding on the international level. I emailed the organizer of the Kenyan championship and he said it was going to be on European TV, but I haven't seen anything to confirm it. Who knows, maybe, soon, the World Championship won't even be televised. And we can't go to Poland, Nairobi, Qatar, or wherever to see it in person.

But more important than all of this, is there seems to be no certainty that, in the future, the best distance runners, the future Bekeles and Tadesses and Tergats, will even run in this event. I doubt the permit meets are that lucrative, and the WC is only every two years and is gruelingly competitive. They'll just run road races instead. I hate non World Championship or Olympic road races, especially marathons. The elite runners just fly in their team of runners and all you're watching is a van with a clock following 6 runners, 4 or 5 of who aren't even competing in the race.

It might be pathetic to admit, but some of the greatest and most memorable moments of my life have been moments from the World XC's, The look of Joseph Ebuya's steady, complete focus and absorption when he won in 2010, Tedese pushing and pushing and pushing the pace when he won, Bekele stopping to retie his shoe and still destroying the field running away.

Many people think distance races on the track at the truly high stakes events can be boring and tactical at times. Also, because it's split over many events, you never really know who's the best distance runner. Is it the steepler? The 5000m? 10000? XC is always cut-throat, high octane. The athletes are running at an absurd pace, there is no way to win unless you just are the fastest. It's racing in its truest sense for me. No world records, you just have to be faster on that day than everyone else in the world over 7.5 miles. I hope IAAF can find some incentive to keep the best runners in the sport.

This is the quote by Kipchoge that worries me and is becoming obvious. "“There are many younger runners who can step up and fill our shoes and challenge for the title in Poland. Many senior athletes are looking at the monetary value in the event compared to the road races and it is logic for them to jump ship.”

You can't blame them, but this logic is not good for us, the fans.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Conor Dary » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:32 am

I didn't think there was any money in Cross Country anymore. We have had this discussion several times before, but the future for East African distance running in general, outside of the marathons, is on a downhill path. There is just so little money compared to the big buck marathons.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 4:24-miler » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:00 am

Professional runners make a living by running for pay. Why would they run for less money or for free? They have families to take care of. What are we fans supposed to tell them? "Please run World XC because I want to be entertained. I don't care if you make money or not or that you have a family to support. I just want to be entertained."?
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby eldanielfire » Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:49 pm

Cross country won't earn bigger moeny unless it is included int he Olympic program again. Wasn't there some talk of it being put into the Winter Olympics at some point?
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:52 pm

Conor Dary wrote:I didn't think there was any money in Cross Country anymore. We have had this discussion several times before, but the future for East African distance running in general, outside of the marathons, is on a downhill path. There is just so little money compared to the big buck marathons.


If the top East-Africans stop running it and more Europeans and Americans, maybe there will be broader interest in the sport. Probably not, but it must be easier to finish fourth than fourteenth; it might seem more worth while. The world Youth etc do this be the limit to two athletes, although it is often the case that the distances have two Kenyans and two Ethiopians.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Marlow » Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:53 pm

As someone who doesn't have any affection for XC, but 'get' that some people do, here's my only comment: XC is a 1-trick pony. It's a great trick, survival of the fittest, but It is NOT (IMO) about who is the fastest; it's who is the strongest, which is an admirable thing, to be sure. But it's just one half-hour event. That's it. I can see why its demise is imminent. I will only miss it because I have distance fan friends and they will mourn it.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 26mi235 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:52 pm

Supposedly one of tracks big problems is that it lasts too long and is not predictable in duration. In XC, with men and women the Nationals are very highly predictable in duration, and if each race is too short?...

As for strength and not speed, I guess you might get it but you are also mis-informed; it is a balance of the two.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Marlow » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:14 pm

26mi235 wrote:As for strength and not speed, I guess you might get it but you are also mis-informed; it is a balance of the two.

Perhaps, but if you lined them up and raced them over 800m, the results would not be the same. The 800 calls for distance speed. A 12k over hills and through mud is strength, first and foremost (methinks).
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 4:24-miler » Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:33 pm

Marlow wrote:
26mi235 wrote:As for strength and not speed, I guess you might get it but you are also mis-informed; it is a balance of the two.

Perhaps, but if you lined them up and raced them over 800m, the results would not be the same. The 800 calls for distance speed. A 12k over hills and through mud is strength, first and foremost (methinks).

I agree Marlow. I've always been told that XC is where the 10K/marathon runners race the milers on equal footing. Really? When was the last time a true middle distance runner won the World XC title?? Like never...
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:48 am

4:24-miler wrote:
Marlow wrote:
26mi235 wrote:As for strength and not speed, I guess you might get it but you are also mis-informed; it is a balance of the two.

Perhaps, but if you lined them up and raced them over 800m, the results would not be the same. The 800 calls for distance speed. A 12k over hills and through mud is strength, first and foremost (methinks).

I agree Marlow. I've always been told that XC is where the 10K/marathon runners race the milers on equal footing. Really? When was the last time a true middle distance runner won the World XC title?? Like never...


I think you might see that they have some good representation at the front (and women are half the event). Look at NCAA XC, which is much broader. Winners and almost winners that are milers are common (Reid). Also, even some longer guys have some pretty fast mile times (Rupp @ 3:50)
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Powell » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:13 am

$30k for WXC gold is still pretty decent money... How many road races of comparable length (I'm not talking of the marathon) pay more than that?
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Conor Dary » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:27 am

Powell wrote:$30k for WXC gold is still pretty decent money... How many road races of comparable length (I'm not talking of the marathon) pay more than that?


If you win, while the other smucks get a cup of coffee and a medal. A decent marathoner makes 30k just to show up, with the promise of more.

CC and track is simply not where the money is, and won't be unless they turn into mega jogathons, which doesn't seem very likely.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby 26mi235 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:02 am

Here is a quote from Karen Harvey (FlSt, or FSU) from the piece :

The same goes for a racing background that balances speed and endurance. "I want someone who is as good on the track as she is in cross country," says Karen Harvey, head women's cross country coach at Florida State. "I can't take a cross country runner who doesn't have the finesse of a toe-off or the biomechanics of speed and turn her into a track star. But I can take an 800-meter runner and turn her into an All-American in cross."
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby TN1965 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:37 am

XC is great for 5K/10K runners who don't have the kick. Some of them went on to achieve success in marathon but others have not. If you don't have the kick to medal in 10K, but not enough endurance for marathon, half marathon and XC are your best shots.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby kuha » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:27 pm

Yes, we've been through this before. I love cross country and have great memories of the 2 Worlds that I've seen (1992, 1995) as well as several US championships. But, if track is inherently a 19th century sport, X-C is, at root, an 18th century sport! Nothing is more basic, and more "primitive"--which is just wonderful, except for getting people's attention in the modern world. One can be an immoble fat ass and have a fine time at a track meet, but you can't do that at a cross-country event. It's an entirely different experience--which some of us love, but most don't--and won't. Bottom line: the "popular" appeal of the thing is just about zero and it's not going to be rising any time soon.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby TN1965 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:16 pm

kuha wrote:One can be an immoble fat ass and have a fine time at a track meet, but you can't do that at a cross-country event.


A spectator could stay at the start/goal area at a XC race, and not move. If the race goes through a loop course multiple times, you can see runners multiple times without moving. You cannot do that in a road race, where you can see the runners once or twice in the entire race. And you get to see them really up close, which you cannot at a track meet.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby kuha » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:33 pm

TN1965 wrote:
kuha wrote:One can be an immoble fat ass and have a fine time at a track meet, but you can't do that at a cross-country event.


A spectator could stay at the start/goal area at a XC race, and not move. If the race goes through a loop course multiple times, you can see runners multiple times without moving. You cannot do that in a road race, where you can see the runners once or twice in the entire race. And you get to see them really up close, which you cannot at a track meet.


I think we're agreeing but am not sure. A spectator "could" also just sit in a chair somewhere on the course and see whatever they see. My point was that MOST spectators (the huge majority) at x-c races totally understand the full environmental/topographic (whatever you want to call it) reality of the thing and are actively jogging back and forth from one vantage point to another. The experience is inherently dynamic--not like a claim-your-seat-and-stay-put situation of a track meet. And, yes, everyone has a chance to see all the athletes from about 5 feet away, if they choose.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Conor Dary » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:36 pm

The WCCC have had a paid spectator section for a long time and still it is a commercial failure, since no one wants to sponsor it.

The money is in jogathons.....where 45,000 or so pay 150 dollars to have a few hours of misery on the roads.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby kuha » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:42 pm

Conor Dary wrote:The money is in jogathons.....where 45,000 or so pay 150 dollars to have a few hours of misery on the roads.


Both true and :lol: !
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby TN1965 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:47 pm

kuha wrote:My point was that MOST spectators (the huge majority) at x-c races totally understand the full environmental/topographic (whatever you want to call it) reality of the thing and are actively jogging back and forth from one vantage point to another.


My limited experience with XC races is that the majority of spectators are NOT jogging back and forth. I found that experience quite amusing, but I was also surprised so few people were actually doing that. I did not do any "head count" but my estimate was fewer than half. The majority just stayed at one spot after the start (which was not on the loop), and then moved to the goal area after the lead pack passed the final loop. And they got better "seats" at the goal area because they were not jogging back and forth between multiple points.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby ExCoastRanger » Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:46 pm

Marlow wrote:
26mi235 wrote:As for strength and not speed, I guess you might get it but you are also mis-informed; it is a balance of the two.

Perhaps, but if you lined them up and raced them over 800m, the results would not be the same. The 800 calls for distance speed. A 12k over hills and through mud is strength, first and foremost (methinks).


Yeah, these guys had no speed:
Carlos Lopes (WXC Champ '76, '84, '85) -- 10,000m Silver 1976 OG
John Ngugi (WXC Champ '86-'89) -- 5,000m Silver 1988 OG
Khalid Skah (WXC Champ '90-91) -- 10,000m Gold 1992 OG
Paul Tergat (WCX Champ '95-99) -- 10,000m Silver 1996 OG & 2000 OG
Mohammed Mourhit (WXC Champ 2000-01) -- 5,000 Bronze 1999 WC

And then there was this Kenny B guy....
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby no one » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:19 pm

TN1965:

and then moved to the goal area

I've been to my fair share of XC meets but I don't think I've ever heard of "goal area". What exactly is "goal area". Maybe I'm chronologically too far removed and the sport moved right on by me. Now that might very well be amusing. Maybe one toke over the line.
Last edited by no one on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby JumboElliott » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:39 pm

Cross country is not TV friendly. That's why there's no money in it. If I were appointed T&F czar, I would make indoor track season last from the beginning of January to the third week of February, and I would replace cross country with either fall track or road racing.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby Powell » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:41 am

Conor Dary wrote:
Powell wrote:$30k for WXC gold is still pretty decent money... How many road races of comparable length (I'm not talking of the marathon) pay more than that?


If you win, while the other smucks get a cup of coffee and a medal. A decent marathoner makes 30k just to show up, with the promise of more.


I specifically said you shouldn't compare the money to the marathon, because it's apples and oranges. You can only do 2 or 3 marathons per year, while you can realistically run races of around 10k (whether road or XC) every weekend.

And the prize money in the WXC goes to the top 6, not just the winner.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby TN1965 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:51 pm

no one wrote:TN1965:

and then moved to the goal area

I've been to my fair share of XC meets but I don't think I've ever heard of "goal area". What exactly is "goal area". Maybe I'm chronologically too far removed and the sport moved right on by me. Now that might very well be amusing. Maybe one toke over the line.


By "goal area" I meant the area surround the final part of the course that is not part of the loop. People who are staying in this area will not be able to see the rest of the race, since the runners pass here only once (right before the finish line), and those who are staying along the loop cannot see the runners finish., because they don't finish on the loop.
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Re: Not enough money in xc is costing the sport elite athlet

Postby no one » Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:36 am

tn

ahh ... thanks for clarification - still never heard that terminology before - is that a common identifier? anyone?. Inquiring minds ...

I have always been able to see several sections of the course - depending on the layout, but it obviously requires some moving around - likely obvious to many (?) here
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