Thank you, Suzy Favor HamiltonApril 8, 2010
Suzy Favor Hamilton will be the official starter of the Mad City 100K this year, as she was in 2007.
It’s safe to say that this appearance — at which she will fire the gun in front of 30 runners and a few onlookers while the rest of Wisconsin sleeps — will not be a lucrative one. But she will be there anyway, and her presence will help signify that this race is sort of a big deal — a national championship, in fact.
It may seem like a small gesture, and perhaps it is. But when a former Olympian lends her name and support to an ultramarathon, I have to smile. It’s a refreshing contrast to those ubiquitous Internet discussions that go something like this:
Ultramarathoner: Wow, the Western States 100 is going to be really exciting this year.
5K Runner: What’s so exciting about a bunch of old people going on a catered hike?
Ultramarathoner: Well, it’s exciting to different people in different ways, but I was referring to the number of really fast guys who are going to be there this year.
5K Runner: “Fast guys”? You’ve got to be kidding me. The winners usually average 10 minutes per mile, or something like that. They’re too slow to run a good marathon, so they do these super-long races that nobody else cares about so they can feel good about themselves.
Ultramarathoner: 10-minute pace is really hard when you’re running 100 miles through the mountains in 100-degree heat while carrying your own fluids and food. But if you don’t believe me, why don’t you try it yourself sometime?
5K Runner: Why should I interrupt my training for a race where the grand prize is a bronze ferret, or whatever?
Ultramarathoner: It’s a cougar, you dolt. And you also get a belt buckle….
5K Runner: Oh, pardon me — how could I forget about the belt buckle? And then if I run well the next year, maybe I get the rest of the belt? Sign me up — NOT!
There will always be people out there who dismiss ultrarunners as talentless, egotistical freaks, but I’m glad that Suzy is not among them. Thanks, Suzy.