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Spirit of the Game
RE: Robert Young fakes run across America

Bob Hearn wrote:

Great post from the ultralist this morning (James Mungall).


I find the whole RY transcon thing profoundly dispiriting.

As has been made abundantly clear in this thread and others like it, there is no way to certify efforts like transcon "runs" and they are not adjudicated races with set courses and a field of competitors, run under the same conditions by everyone, so I wonder why anybody even tries to compare one such effort with another. This leads logically to the idea (in my mind, at least) that nobody should pay more than passing interest in what RY is doing because if it isn't comparable to other people's transcons in a rigorous way, it must therefore be a strictly personal challenge. Once we relegate it to personal challenge, it becomes no more or less interesting than anyone's training runs or journey runs or hiking expeditions. I put the whole FKT phenomenon into the same basket, and I am bored by the arguments among runners and their fans about who did what combination of peaks in California and whether or not their efforts were legit.

It has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager with maps taped all over my walls to hit the road and walk across Canada from Canso to Vancouver. The idea of making it a public event with boasting of records broken and heart-warming acts of sacrifice for the children would never have crossed my mind. Until a couple of years ago I wasn't even aware that this was a "thing" that people did to show off except for Terry Fox, who I regarded as a one-off with noble intentions. I would have done it as a purely personal challenge - in fact, less as a challenge than as an extended meditation on what it means to exist without the fetters of ordinary existence, just rising every day and feeling the wind and the sun and the rain along the road. I did it once for three weeks in Iceland and it was so addictive that I didn't want to stop. Ever. I would be doing it right now if I wasn't so attached to the people I live with. But I would not expect anyone else to be interested in what I was doing.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately in the balance, those fetters of ordinary existence have always been strong enough to keep me at home and prevent me from doing the trip. I don't think I'll ever have the opportunity so it will remain a dream. My 19-year old son has begun to talk about it and maybe someday I'll live the dream vicariously if he decides to do it.

Peering behind the gaudy curtains masking RY's transcon attempt feels like peeping on someone doing something that should be intensely private but which by his own actions he has made extremely public. It has aspects of exhibitionism and voyeurism that I find impossible to look away from but which I wish I could simply ignore as if I had never become aware of it. (I often feel that way when I make my occasional forays into facebook, but that's another story.)

And yet, I've read every page on the letsrun thread and I want to know what Laz and RayK will tell us. The only merit our collective fascination might hold would be the protection of the gullible from whatever harm might result from fraudulent claims, if fraud were demonstrated to have occurred.

I guess that many of us are suckers for public spectacles of pride and humiliation, in a way that the internet has made possible as never before.


Jim sounds like a jealous putz.

Nobody ever heard of this guy until the LR thread. Nobody knew of this run he was doing until this thread. His only methods of promoting himself is through facebook where one would need to seek him out to follow him.

Just because you wouldn't seek attention in your run, doesn't make someone else who does bring attention to his run wrong.

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