Runner A ran D1 XC and qualified for and then raced in the NCAA Cross Country Championships (either as an individual or as a scorer for a fast team that qualified). Assume he had a respectable finish, somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Runner B had a less than impressive collegiate career, but took to the roads post-graduation and ran a 2:17-2:19 marathon to qualify for the trials. Assume he also had a respectable finish at the trials, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Who had the greater accomplishment/whom are you more impressed with?
I think this could go both ways...
As someone who had a less than spectacular collegiate career, I have a gut reaction to be far more impressed with Runner A. You have to be an absolute STUD to make it to the NCAA Championships. I had absolutely 0 shot at ever making it that far during my college XC days. However, I've been racing longer distances on the roads for a few years now, and have been closing in on that trials standard of 2:19 pretty consistently. I can also rattle off the names of 10+ guys living within a 10 mile radius of me who have hit the OTQ Standard, yet were nowhere near making it to NCAA Nationals.
However, looking at it strictly from the numbers, it seems like racing the trials is a rarer and more impressive feat. 100-200 guys will race the trials once ever 4 years vs. 250+ race the NCAA D1 Championships every single year.
It's a weird situation where hitting the OTQ Standard and racing the trials is a rarer accomplishment than racing NCAA Nationals, yet I think it's easier to do so.
What do you think?