A lot of people have asked me, “Why isn’t the 24-hour race an Olympic event?” Of course, I have no idea but I have a pretty good guess. Politics. We ultrarunners just don’t have “juice” with the Olympic committee. How else can you explain such Olympic events as pistol and rifle shooting? While it would definitely require skill to be any good at shooting at targets, in my mind it just isn’t a “sport” when a lot of who wins comes down to how good your weapon is.
I think a 24-hour race would be a fantastic addition to the Olympics. Television coverage would never have a dead spot for an entire day and night. Think of all the advertising the TV network could sell! Think of all the tickets that would be sold (well, maybe that’s a stretch)… My friends, however, who hang out at the North Coast 24-hour race, love to come to watch. They say it is like witnessing a train wreck. There is something about watching people implode that is fascinating and horrifying at the same time…. You want to look away but can’t. I think it could be TV at its finest.
Running these 24-hour races for a number of years, I have seen it all. The super-human running efforts of the leaders and the total collapse of others. Something like the old ABC Sports mantra of “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.”
But, with the Olympics starting this weekend, I am cooling my heels in the USA, a spectator, not a participant. I will have to settle for the World Championship put on by the IAU in Poland this September. To prepare for the World race, the USATF has sent out our uniforms, hand-me-downs from the 2008 Summer Olympics. That is as close to the Olympics as I will come, at least for the foreseeable future.