When Did the Run Community Turn Ugly?

As I was settling into seat 11D on United for a business flight from Denver to Seattle, I do what I always do, and checked into the twittersphere for news from all my (predominantly) run peeps. Just off the heels of the TCS NYC Marathon, there are friends (largely virtual and some I've had the good fortune of meeting) that are basking in their accomplishments from tackling one of (if not my favorite) marathons.

There were some great stories out of the "big apple" including;

The amazing performances from the women elite runners.

Pro runner Stephanie Bruce lamented about the physical and emotional pain at the end of her race.

Fellow blogger Hollie from Fueled by Lolz was able to "fangirl" in the professional "hanger" where the pros and semi-elites stayed warm, warmed up, and stored race gels in their bras (yes, heard that happened) prior to the marathon.

After being inspired, two posts turned my smiles and personal reflections (of racing NYC after qualifying, having an injury deferral then finally racing in 2016) into anger and disgust.

The first was from infamous Kelly Roberts from SheCanAndSheDid.com who has become a superstar among run bloggers and an inspiration to throngs of women who are part of the #sportsbrasquad movement.

My ire was raised when I saw one of Kelly's Instagram posts that talked about a screenshot of a comment from a race photo. The "troll" said, "it had to do with me chasing a BBQ instead of a BQ" (which she's chasing.) I met Kelly and Hollie at the Runner's World Half & Festival. Both women are genuine and genuinely passionate about running and the run community. God bless Kelly for inspiring so many runners and putting ugly into perspective and the troll in his sad desperate place. Oh snap!

If that was not bad enough, as I landed in Seattle and rode the rental car bus, I saw something even uglier (if that's possible.) Before I "go there," I understand there's the concept of online bullying which is rampant in our country. I won't "dogpile" on the egregious offender here, but he is the one that decided to jump into the cesspool of ugly. I'll try to remain impartial here and let his words define a special kind of ugly that's become too common in social media.

In my nearly twenty years of running and nearly ten years of writing and blogging about it, I have found the run community to be just that. A community. We cheer each other on and pick each other up (sometimes literally) when we're down. Unless your name is Shalane, there's always someone faster than you and someone always slower. There are no membership fees. The moment you lace your running shoes, you're accepted into the club.

Dad Naive from twitter responded to a tweet from Bree who just completed New York and reveled not only about the race, but the number of high fives (872 to be exact) she exchanged on the course which prompted aptly named, Mr. Naive to comment,

"Well. If you didn’t break 4 hours...Then concentrate more on actually running. The purpose of a marathon is to run. It’s not called NYCHighFive. If you didn’t actually break 5 hours. Never walk another one until you can. This is getting out of control."


As if that wasn't horrific enough on it's own, the thread continued with a good online friend (I won't release her name unless she gives permission) perhaps tried to talk some sense into him and commented,

"I think you and I would not see eye to eye on our approach to running/racing. There’s more to life than the time on the clock...(tweet comment #2) My PR is 5:05. I ran my heart out that day. Trained hard and am proud of that PR. Nobody can take that accomplishment away. No elitist. Nobody."

Mr Naive is apparently also Mr suave replied,

"That’s a walk. And congrats for covering time and space. But you took a runners spot. Congrats too. Maybe the rules need changed."


Mr Suave (who hides behind his hat on his twitter) claims to have run 78 marathons, 95 ultras, and according to his profile he's an NCAA XC member. Having a way with words, he states "ANYONE over 2:30 for Boston. Should eat a dick." His parents and cross country coach must be so proud.

As I'm re-reading this Vancouver troll's diatribe, I'm beginning to wonder or hope that it's a Russian bot designed merely to stir shit up for the sake of stirring shit up.  Perhaps he duped me into taking the time to write about his sorry soul, but I'd take the time again to defend my run friends and the integrity (of which is not in your vocabulary) the sport.

Fortunately, my faith in the run community was partially restored when I went back and looked at the majority of the comments around the "high five runner" from quality people with words such as, "awesome," "love," "fantastic," and "sweeet" (not a typo..with emphasis on how sweet this actually was.)

I will set this story aside and resume my training for my first marathon (at CIM in December) with my special needs buddy Liam. Whether Suave is a bot or just a tool, he's not a runner...but Liam is.

Peace out.


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