Thursday, December 18, 2008

village voice cover story: "will run for food"

this is the cover that stared out of the free newspaper boxes littering the streets of nyc. the village voice devoted its lead story, "will run for food," to runners racing for survival ("food" in its most basic, non-culinary, sense). the subtitle it pretty smarmy, "Based in the Bronx, some of the most successful athletes you've never heard of live to run away with your club money."

as i read it, the implication is that the prize money had already been spoken for - and it wasn't put out there for the fastest runner (wherever he or she may actually hail from), but the parochial interests of the race organizers. even smarmier, the article goes on to imply they'd just as soon collect the age group awards as well (though biting into one, aside from less than ideal nutritional make-up, could generate some unwanted dental bills), denying them the local runners who really earned them (by, what else, birthright).

writing of last august's nyrr team championship race, won by kenyan evance rotich, it plays up the "ringer" aspect because he wasn't actually a member of the west side runners (the team for whom he raced). "It may have been only a club meet in Central Park, but your garden-variety Manhattan health nut who runs on the weekends wasn't getting anywhere near any of the medals. And as Rotich quietly pulled on a dark sweatsuit to leave the park, a controversy was brewing."

while the author is clearly trying to foment resentment at the importation of "ringers," bypass that ugly tone and read on. the article provides amazing insight into the world of these elite runners who scramble to survive. while they're blessed with speed, most of of them live in near poverty conditions. as a former wtc member, and friend of coach mike, i enjoyed reading about his role in helping these runners get a foothold in the united states.

these runners have it tough enough with the struggle to get by in life - to then imply that they take "something" away from local runners because they win races is downright shameful.

update: check out abiyot endale's response to the doctored cover photo posted at the westchester track club site.


Janet said...

Well said! The garden-variety Manhattan health nut, most of whose ancestors were immigrants, too, has enough advantages. I'd confine "cheating" allegations to course-cutting and doping, not being a "ringer" (something I have to laugh about considering the number of ringers--and employees hired for their athletic abilities and not business acumen--in corporate sports teams).

rundangerously said...

thanks janet! aside from the nasty tone and implications, it's an otherwise good job of covering their circumstances.

Michael said...

I just posted a comment on the Village Voice site hoping that these "ringers" come to my club's race in February. We decided to offer small cash prizes to make the race more exciting. It looks like $100 could make a difference in somebodies life.

Oh, it is the Cherry Tree Ten Mile Run. Applications will be ready soon at

Plug, plug ... plug..

Janet said...

I finally found a (dry) Village Voice in a distribution box and read the article in the paper. It does make clear that they have the same hand-to-mouth existence as many immigrants, and I appreciate the welcoming approach of the PPTC.

Maybe I'm overanalyzing this, but I can't help see some racism here. Toby Tanser, an immigrant from, I believe, Iceland, a very white guy, was cleaning up at NYRR races for awhile and everybody seemed to love him.

rundangerously said...

i just read abiyot's respone to the doctored photo on the cover posted at wtc (and added link).

the village voice's conduct in running that photo is even worse than shameful, it's absolutely reprehensible

Janet said...

You get what you pay for, and the Voice, formerly the home of some excellent, cutting-edge journalists, has turned into a rag.

Again, one has to wonder what they were thinking--do they believe Abiyot and his African teammates are illiterate and would never know.