Today was the NCAA cross country championship meet. I’ve never run it, but I had a ball following along with online coverage.
The best parts about championships are the cinderella stories. It’s a fact that anyone who has watched March Madness knows. And it’s one reason why I love seeing improved pre and post meet coverage by sites like Flotrack. When there is a big build up, not only do you know who is supposed to win, you know who has been left out. As the race begins and those mystery runners charge to the front, it’s thrilling.
Running is such a fun sport partly because there are so many underdogs. When an unknown (Kate Avery) grabs the lead of the women’s race, you can’t help but cheer for the impossible. And yes, she is swallowed by the end and finishes third. But still. THIRD??! Who is this person. The numerous individual victories and stories play to that blind optimism inside all of us, that we could one day be that mystery factor.
While refreshing the Twitter feed, I was doing major stalking of past races and interviews. I found myself looking back at some of Lauren (Fleshman’s) stuff. This video in particular, was golden. It’s an interview after her 7th place at Cross Country World Championships. The reporter asks her what her goal was going into the race, and she just puts it out there: I wanted to give myself a shot for a medal. Her time wasn’t even top 20 in the world. And that was definitely not the answer he was expecting. He stammers and stutters, then continues to prod for rationality. It’s as if he is trying to get her to say that was a ridiculous goal. I just love the juxtaposition of her unstoppable confidence vs. his incredulity.
I imagine there will be many similar interviews from this year’s NCAA meet. The beauty of running is it doesn’t matter how many votes you’ve gotten on the pre-race poll. When the gun goes off, everyone’s going for their win. And there are so many ways to seize that dream.
The Lauren interview again (first 2 minutes):
Flotrack’s NCAA coverage: http://www.flotrack.org/
Let’sRun breakdown of the best stories: