A Final Thought On Des Moines 2010
Moving The Needle-Let's Take A Step Forward

By Ryan Craven for LetsRun.com
May 28, 2010

When I first showed up to the meet on Thursday afternoon, I cringed as I looked around at a half empty stadium.  The mythical needle Vin Lanana had so triumphantly spoken of seemed to be waning at best.  I suddenly found myself hoping against hope that by Sunday afternoon the stands would be packed with knowledgeable and dedicated fans and I would have the chance to share that excitement with an equally eager public.  However, the reality I observed on Sunday was actually stuck somewhere in the middle. 

No, the stands weren’t overflowing, there were no children lining the fences hoping to sneak a peak at the action, and I certainly didn’t hear the deafening roars that I was privileged to enjoy out at Hayward field just a few weekends ago.  What I did get to witness was a small crowd of unbelievably devoted and excitable supporters who truly enjoy the sport of Track & Field.  I have no idea if the fans had any clue who Christian Cantwell was as he threw 21.65, or if they understood how special it was to watch Bershawn Jackson run an incredible 47.32 in the 400 hurdles, or if they even cared about the 23 young professionals besides Galen Rupp who have spent a year or two putting off the real world to chase something that is so unfathomably important for them to be a part of.  But the crowds, underwhelming as they may have been in size, were there…and they were loving every single minute of the competition.

By the time I left for Chicago on Sunday, the sick feeling I had felt in my stomach upon first entering the stadium subsided for a few hours as I decided I would be more than happy to say I was amongst the avid midwestern fan-base.  Then I got home and decided to check the final edit of my recap for Sunday’s events.  Below the hyperlink, I saw the dreaded words “Super Hot On LetsRun—Worst 1500 Final Ever.”  At that moment, I wished that LetsRun readers could see what I saw in the media room below the track.  On Sunday, I watched as Matt Tegenkamp congratulated many of the fine young runners around him.  These were not the half-hearted congratulations of an athlete trying to mask the regrets about his own performance, but rather those of a veteran performer who was thrilled just to have the chance to be a part of yet another championship race.  On Friday, I spoke with Andrew Bumbalough as he couldn’t contain how excited he was to have the opportunity to challenge himself against the best the country had to offer on the day.  I could recount dozens of other inspiring stories just like these, but it still wouldn’t stop someone from making a thread claiming that Teg is soft for his actions or that Bumbalough would have never placed that high in an Olympic year.  (I do however anticipate the joke threads of the same name[s] and look forward to skimming them.)

Given the futility of all this writing, I will leave anyone reading this with a final question.  Did you take the time to come out to Des Moines and be a part of US Track & Field—Or were you simply content to sit on your computer and speculate why after all the progress OUR athletes have made, the stands were still half empty…Or were they half full?


Ryan Craven is a former Footlocker finalist who is currently a journalism major at the University of Wisconsin where in the past he was an All-Academic Big 10 selection. He aspires to be a collegiate coach.

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