Exploring Human Potential Through Sport

Shortly after Kipchoge achieved his remarkable sub 2 run I shared a thought on Twitter that was not planned, fully formed, and I thought innocent enough (just the kind of things I thought Twitter should be good for).

John Kelly on Twitter

Don’t get me wrong, what @EliudKipchoge did was incredible and historic, but why draw the line where it was w/ external aids? Why not downhill with a tailwind? Or on a treadmill with a harness that gives extra recoil to each stride (oh, right, the Vaporflys already do that).

It turns out that was a mistake, and most things said in only 280 characters can pretty much be taken whatever direction anyone wants.

John Kelly on Twitter

Today I shared an honest opinion on a serious topic on Twitter. That, was regrettable. From now on I’ll keep my 280 character opinions limited to snack foods & humorously uniformed observations of British life. Real opinions will be reserved for actual conversations.

So I decided to finish forming that thought. Even after getting things written out I considered whether it was worth it to poke the hornet’s nest again and share them. Ultimately I decided that if someone is going to get upset and respond with ad hominem to someone sharing a thought-out, well-intentioned opinion meant to promote discussion from both sides, then that’s the kind of person I shouldn’t worry about. Those people might have largely taken over politics, but let’s keep them out of running.

John Kelly on Twitter

After yesterday’s thoughts on sub 2, here’s today’s no holds barred hot take: blueberry and lemon is a really under utilized combo. (In all seriousness, I’ll expand on yesterday’s thoughts at a better time & in a better medium not limited to 280 character over simplifications).

The Fast Running website contacted me and asked if I’d like to expand on my thoughts, so I wrote the piece below and shared it with them. If you’d like to fully dive into it head over to their site with the link below.

Exploring Human Potential Through Sport

US athlete John Kelly has finished the Barkley Marathons, but was his greatest challenge taking on Twitter about Eluid Kipchoge’s sub 2 hour marathon. We wanted to hear him out. As a kid I once had the misfortune of running directly under a hornet’s nest that some older kids had been throwing a football at.

If you don’t care to read the whole article, here are the main points:

  • Kipchoge’s achievement should no doubt be immensely celebrated, as should anyone’s personal achievements
  • Competitive achievements must have standards, especially the kind that are meant to test the limits of human potential
  • As remarkable as the achievement was, it does not prove that sub 2 in a sanctioned race is possible any more than his WR at Berlin does
  • Unfortunately, this will steal some thunder from the first person to break 2 in a sanctioned race. That could possibly even be Kipchoge, but the chances of that just statistically went down as this is one less race we’ll get to see from him in his prime.

Of course there seems to be a lot more people who were inspired than people who took my line of reasoning, and in any case it’s his life and he should do what makes him happy and what he’s passionate about. I don’t have even remotely close to his level of capability, but I know there are people who wish I had magically learned how to swim and stuck with triathlon. No thanks I’ll be over there in the mountains. That’s my personal passion.

A set of Vaporflys on my own feet at Kona last year

2 thoughts on “Exploring Human Potential Through Sport

  • October 18, 2019 at 11:04 am
    Permalink

    I really enjoy all of your writings. I was unaware of the sub 2 attempt being made until my wife showed me a clip and I saw all the pacers behind him. My first words were, “It shouldn’t count, look at all the pacers, you know they all didn’t run the whole 26.2.” I feel that eventually sub 2 will be broken in a real race just as all records eventually fall. Like I tell my runners, one day all of your variables will line up; training, nutrition, pre-race warm-up, poop schedule, temperature, terrain, and so on…And you will have the race of your life and you will be like, “Damn that was fun, let’s do that again!” …And you will fight to possibly never regain that day…but you will always have that day. Like you, John, I don’t want to take away the day that Kipchoge had, he still had to run, but his only battle was with the clock and he beat the clock on this day.

    Reply
    • October 18, 2019 at 5:40 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you Chad. Yes, I think part of the excitement of sports is the many variables that make the outcome so unpredictable. In an ultra, it’s nearly impossible for all those variables to go perfectly in any given race (but of course we still go into it hoping for the best and planning for the worst). So in that sense you’re right, maybe it’s not exactly sport but it’s definitely still an incredible challenge / test / experiment / whatever you want to call it and what he achieved is remarkable.

      Reply

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