Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gimme a Break!

So there's this article about Scott Jurek in the April issue of Runners World magazine. The framework of the story takes place at last Fall's 24-Hour National Championship race in Cleveland. Lots of folks on the Ultralist have voiced their opinions about the personal nature/tone/relevance of the article, but I'm not too concerned about all that...

What I would like to point out instead is that I was referred to not once, but twice as "bald and gangly" in the piece. Ouch!  Sure, both adjectives may be true, but still...that just sounds so mean! Especially since that's all they said about me. Throw me a bone here, RW! I'm not looking for "dashingly handsome" or anything like that...How about just "tall and skinny" or "aerodynamically inclined" or maybe even "built like a long distance runner"?

Oh, well. I guess it is pretty funny....but even still, I'm totally taking author Steve Friedman off my Christmas Hanukkah card list!

[Edit: 3/11, 3:30 p.m. - Turns out Steve Friedman is a stand-up guy. See his response in the comment section below.]

Successfully executing a bottle hand-off in Cleveland despite my awkward gangly-ness

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm also pretty sure it's pretty distasteful to call any cancer survivor bald and gangly. But that's just my opinion. They could have also mentioned "fast" and "incredibly inspirational guy." Weird.

Dan Rose said...

I thought the same thing...but then again, the article wasn't about me, and it was obvious the author was trying to paint all of us as some sort of freakshow out there. I would hope if he actually talked to any of us individually he wouldn't have been so harsh.

Amelia said...

Gangly...like a fox. Also an incredible runner and inspiration to others and above and beyond supportive of everyone in your professional/athletic/personal circles, which is the whole point. This reminds me of hearing back that someone described me as that tall girl with frizzy hair? I mean, what can we do?!

Steve said...

Hi, Dan, I wrote the piece in question and apologize if you were offended. I certainly did not intend that. Being a little overweight myself, I actually aspire to gangliness and--honest--did not mean either word in a demeaning way. Also, congrats on your great showing in the race...I actually did talk to a few runners and was impressed at everyone's grit and fitness. (I also talked to your sister and brother in law, who were both exceedingly kind and patient with a writer who had never been to a 24-hour race). I plead guilty to thinking the event was a little on the oddball side, and if/when I cover another one, I will be more sensitive to the feelings of the participants, and will not be quite so quick to be snide.

Dan Rose said...

Steve,

I really appreciate you commenting here. I don't think anyone in the 24-hour running community will argue that we all have to be a bit "unique" to participate in these races...and as a whole, we certainly must look like an odd collection of shapes, sizes, and ages out on the track, especially to a casual observer. It is those very same differences among us, however, that make our sport so truly inclusive and supportive. Whether you're looking to test your physical limits, seek emotional relief, or simply celebrate life out there, as a community, ultra-runners will always welcome you, no matter your talent level.

I guess what made some of your descriptions seem so jarring to me is that everyone running the race that day was nothing but 100% supportive or each other and our varied goals. We all may look strange in one way or another, but our individual goals are always nothing but pure and inspiring. Leo Lightner wasn't just some old guy shuffling around the track, he was trying to run 81 miles to equal his 81 years (and he ran 82.7!)...what a treat it was for me to take a moment to shake his hand during the final hour and congratulare him. ...and Jeff Burke wasn't just a crazy guy running around with a back brace sporting a bunch of flags, he was carrying out is family tradition of honoring those who serve our country (and he covered 71 miles while doing it!). ...and I wasn't there just to show off my sexy bald and gangly body to all the ladies. My physical appearance is simply a result of me wanting to work as hard as I can to inspire people fighting cancer to never give up. I don't care what I look like (and frankly, I did laugh when I read the description of me in your article) as I know all the bronzed bi-ceps and washboard abs in the world aren't going to make anyone in a chemo infusion room feel any better about themselves or their chances of getting back on their feet and having a second chance at life. All I'm trying to accomplish with my running is to inspire as many of those people as I can for as far as my gangly legs will carry me!

Thanks again for being so up-front here, Steve. I do appreciate it. ...and if you have a free weekend sometime, I invite you to strap on some running shoes and enter a 24 hour race. No matter which one you choose, or how many miles you end up covering, you'll be welcomed with open arms and will draw endless amounts of energy from the inspirational stories you hear from your new friends as you circle the track. Plus you get to eat lots of junk food late at night, which is always nice too.

nmp said...

The amount of discussion on this article is getting pretty overwhelming. Amazing what a few pages of text can do. I have not seen it so I don't know what all the fuss is about but I think I will be picking up RW on the way home...

I guess it depends on the context but "bald and gangly" does not necessarily have to be negative.

Will said...

Dan, I ran with you for a while at Magnus Gluteus and briefly at the start of Seneca Greenway 50K this last weekend. All I really remember thinking as you blew by me and went on to finish 3rd in a really good time was "man, that dude is fast!" Nice job.

I also had issue with the article referring to ultramarathoners as antisocial. I have definitely had the opposite experience and couldn't find ultrarunners more social and welcoming. I mean every race ends with a big party! What does this guy want?

Dan Rose said...

Hey Will!

Sorry your stomach got the best of you at Seneca (maybe Deep Dish isn't be best pre-race meal!).

I know you're usually wiser with your race nutrition since you were smarter than me when you passed on the Knob Creek at the MGM 50k in December. For some reason it was really tough to keep the pace with you in that second half!

Keep up the hard work and good luck in Boston next month!

Mike Bailey said...

The author made the 24 hour participants sound like a roster of Dick Tracy characters. I guess I'd be called the Asian guy who treats every aid station like Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Honestly, not long ago I might have thought the same thing about you weirdo's. The author, Steve, applies interesting literary techniques by making very superficial statements about outward appearance, and then dives to the deep depths of Jurek's soul. He could have easily written an article on runner Jill Perry's rise to eliteness, but instead called her the blonde pin up. Scott could have likewise just been called the tall, confused man. A notable dichotomy in journalistic approach, but I think I get it. Either way, it was a fascinating look into the heart of one of ultra running's most revered and sadly/currently broken athletes. We can all relate a little to his story.

Mike Bailey said...

By the way Dan. Giraffes are frequently described as gangly, but can run over 30 mph. Bald eagles have a flight speed of 35-45mph, and can reach 200 mph in a dive. You're physical description was merely the combination of two of the most athletic animals on the planet. BTW. If you google the terms "bald and gangly", your blog is the first result, the second is for the character Gollum. LOL.

Dan Rose said...

Thanks, Mike! Thanks for the good laugh before heading out into a weekend of crazy rainy running weather. I'll be sure to close my eyes and imagine myself as some sort of freak giraffe/eagle hybrid out there...mumbling "my precious" over and over again!

Joy said...

I'm not sure who this Steve from RW is but definitely owes everyone a huge apology for his comments. I can not believe he called you bald and gangly, ultrarunners "odd balls," describing Jill P. as a "pinup girl," depicting Tim C. as a "wife abuser". Not sure if he gets off writing in this tone about people or an event he knows nothing about. My question for Steve is did Scott approve of his article before it was published? If so, I have lot a lot of respect for Scott. Sorry to ramble, Joy

Staci said...

well, it's just me, but i think his "apology" is more defending himself or excusing himself.

i wasn't very impressed by his article or comments here.

Amelia's comment cracked me up. like a fox indeed.

Jamie Donaldson said...

Hey Dan...I was waiting to comment until I saw the article and just got a chance to read it tonight. I don't feel like an odd ball. In fact, I feel like I found myself in ultrarunning! I feel like I am living my life to the fullest following a passion. I wouldn't have met so many amazing people (even bald and gangly ones) if it wasn't for this amazing sport! :)! I agree with Anonymous-fast and incredibly inspirational would be a better fit for you!

Chris Roman said...

I could not agree more Jamie. The greatest people that surround me at this point in my life are part of the Ultra community. I just spent the weekend w/ Charlie Engle and felt like I knew the man for years. I do not hesitate to say he is like a big brother to me and know we will be lifelong friends. Dan you rock and are a source of great inspiration :)

Erich said...

WTF..is this guy 4 real? Just shows his lack of being professional..where did he get his degree?(prob doesnt have one)..If it was a face 2 face interview he would have chosen his words in a diff. manner...oh well what a way to inspire some1 who has gone thru all the shit u have gone thru..and all the charity ...nice guy...guess who just made a few enemies..karma rocks bro...LMFAO...E