[This video is provided as a soundtrack for this post. You don’t need to watch it, just push play and listen while you read, that is, if you’re capable of two things at once.]
24-year-old Arien O’Connell finished the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with a faster time than any of the other runners participating. In fact, Arien’s time of 2:55:11 was 11 minutes faster than that of any other runner, but what does she have to show for it? A nice new, shiny PR and a mention on Half-Fast, but no prize money and no trophy. Some people might argue that being mentioned on Half-Fast is the ultimate prize and what every runner strives for (keep trying Ryan Hall, you’ll get there someday) and those people would be correct. However, it would be nice if the race also officially recognized your accomplishment.
Unfortunately for Arien O’Connell, she did not consider herself to be an “elite” and therefore did not run with the “elites.” She started 20 minutes after them with the rest of the pack. The race therefore will not honor her as the winner despite the fact that she ran the only sub-3 hour time.
Nike’s media relations manager, Tanya Lopez *cough* *eat feces and die* *cough* came out and said that “at this point, we’ve declared our winner.” Oh, I see. You’ve DECLARED your winner. Well that settles it then. And here I was naïve enough to think that winners were decided based on who had the fastest time, I didn’t realize that the winner could just be declared, as though they were a piece of fruit crossing the border. I like Nike, I really do, not their running shoes per se, but I like everything else about them and I hope that they get this figured out. Arien O’Connell’s situation is exactly the type of thing that they could have built a marketing campaign around or at the very least, could have gotten some great PR out of it. Instead it’s turning into one giant clusternication. Pull your head out, Nike!
If any of you are thinking that this situation is unfair to the other “elites” because they never knew that they were competing against Arien and could have increased their pace, then I point you to every other age grouper out there. Most of us run races not knowing who we’re competing against within our division, we just run the best race we can. Also, I’m not sure that you can argue that point when the time gap was 11 minutes. If the “declared winner” left another 11 minutes on the course because she thought she was in 1st place, then she doesn’t deserve it anyway.
So, Congrats to Arien O’Connell: Winner of the Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon, at least as far as I’m concerned.
Confidential to Arien: If it turns out that you pulled a Rosie Ruiz and you embarrass me for shedding light on your plight then I’m going to be so mad at you. You only think you’ve heard the worst possible grade school insults, but just you wait.
You can read more about it at SFGate.
Runner’s nod to RW Daily for finding the story.