Tag Archives: marathon

What is a Runner? Who is a Runner?

Written by:  Katrina M. Smith, MBA
Date:  January 7, 2013

What is a Runner?
The answer may appear obvious, but if you take into account target markets, products, literature, media, sociology, economics, and other non-athletic factors that define what a runner is, you’d be surprised at the complexities of such a question.

I know I was.

I consider myself a runner.  I’ve been involved in organized Track & Field for over 19 years.  I’ve competed all over the US among the best.  I have a cabinet full of trophies, medals, and plaques.  I can read a runner’s style and determine what areas of their body are weakest and how they can improve.  I coach track. I train people who run.  I am currently running on a team and plan to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.  Yet, I am not considered a “Runner” according to business and socio-economics.

Apparently, the title “Runner” has been attributed to those individuals who run 5K or more.  Runners run long distances.  Runners do not have to be athletic, they just have to be willing to run for long periods of time.  Runners participate in competitive events like 5Ks or the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon, but never intend to win or compete.

Runners run for leisure and uphold the philosophies set back in 1896 by their Yale elitist forefathers who propagated sports are a leisurely and charitable activity.  Those who have leisure time are part of a unique prestigious group of upperclassmen.

Business loves to cater to this group.  If you go into a sporting goods store, most of the shoes are cushioned at the heel for long distance running rather than mid or short.  If you go into Barnes & Noble, most of the books featuring running are written for non-competitive long distance runners.  If you Google running, you’ll run into articles targeting the needs of long distance runners.  Leisure runners make up well over 90% of running.  Of the runners who compete in the LA Marathon only maybe 20 men and women combined actually compete for the gold.  The remaining 1,000,000+ run just to run.  As the powers that be say, the majority wins.  The majority defines who is and who is not a runner.

So what am I according to the Majority?  I am a track & field athlete that runs.


(No matter how much I study the leisure runner, I may never understand him/her.  The impact of the leisure runner is powerful and affects the composition of track & field.  Yet he/she does not understand his/her relationship to the sport or why he/she runs long distances under an ancient Ivy League philosophy.  My objective is to build spectatorship, increase athlete retention, and boost the marketability of track & field.  To meet these objectives, I need Runners- track & field or otherwise- to help build the sport.  The task ahead is great).  

Road Running with Dave the “It” Man

By Katrina M. Smith, MBA
Written:  December 13, 2012

Trotting down the blackened roads of some unassuming metropolis is a mysterious fellow sporting super skimpy neon 80s looking distance shorts, a thin partially transparent worn out singlet, the latest Nike kicks valued at $150, and yellow and black Livestrong wrist and head bands.  Each weekday morning, this runner (we’ll call him Dave) wakes up religiously at 5:30AM, brushes his teeth, puts on his running gear, and jogs out of his front door into the chilled dark frosty morn with all the seriousness of a great Olympic competitor.

For 18 years, Dave and his knobby knees runs 10 miles before work sometimes with a group, but most times by himself.  At the end of each fiscal quarter, Dave runs in a major marathon.  He never wins nor does he expect to win.  His best time is 4hrs, 30mins.  Once a month, Dave drives an hour or two from his home to run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon.  Like the marathon, he has never won any of these races nor does he ever come close.  Dave’s best finish in the 5K is 350 of 600.  In the 10K he has finished 578 of 1000…and in the half marathon, he’s finished 3456 of 8000.  Dave does not care much for rankings.  He just watches his time and is happy to finish.  When asked if he competes, Dave emphatically and quite snootily responds, “No!  I do not compete!  I only run for charity.”  Then he turns his head and raises his stopped up nasally pointy nose in the air as if to say, “Run to race?  How absurd!  What do I look like some low class citizen?”  Then when told that the marathons he runs in are technically competitions along with the 5K, 10K, and half-marathon, he replies with a sneer.  “Humph!”  When asked if he’d ever consider running a shorter race, he rolls his eyes.  “Where’s the challenge in that?”

Dave is a strange fellow…one that I shall never quite understand.  There are millions of Dave’s out there in the world…perhaps not as snooty, but their attitude towards competitive running reflects Dave’s rationale.  The Dave’s enter competitive events not to compete, just to participate on behalf of a charity.  More notably, the Dave’s believe their cause is more noble and humble than a competitors.

I have run into the Dave’s on many occasions.  No doubt in my quest to find runners for events, I will continue to meet more…in which case, I will probably greet them with a friendly salutation, “Top of the morning to you Dave!” as I run past them with effortless ease.

To Dave:  Competition is good for the soul.  Nothing wrong with giving to charity.  No one pursuit is better than the other.