Thoughts on the Chicago Marathon Coverage

This a quickie post because I wanted to write down some of Ben’s and my thoughts on Chicago Marathon broadcast last week and I’m swamped with work at the moment and don’t have time for a more thoughtful, well-crafted post.

  • Chicago decided to do away with pacers so that it would be a more tactical race, and thus a more interesting race for the spectators, according to the race director. I haven’t been watching marathons long enough to have an opinion on which type of race is more interesting to watch. Obviously a world-record breaking run is fun to watch, but even in a paced race, it’s unlikely a world record will be set.
  • The men and women start at the same time. We were rather displeased with the lack of airtime on the women’s race. Ben prefers having the women start first because then there’s more time covering the women’s race. Yes, it’s true that women receive more coverage when they start first, but why can’t they give equal coverage when women and men start at the same time? It’s a shame that the only way to increase coverage is to have the women run first because it gives the implicit message that the women’s race is only worth covering when no men are running.
  • I don’t know who the British commentator was, but we were very unhappy with his performance. We both thought he was unprepared. Being a commentator is a hard job because you need to think of good things to say off the cuff and there’s a lot of stress involved, but it really sounded like he did no homework or preparation whatsoever. Listen, I don’t think I would be a good commentator, nor would I do a particularly good job, even I know to come in with a sheet of names of the top marathoners and what their last marathons/PRs were. We groaned and listened in horror as he fumbled around and finally mumbled, “There’s Number 101, 103, 104 running.” Seriously! Seriously! We can see the bib numbers on our screen just fine. TELL US WHO THEY ARE!!
  • How about Deena Kastor! Top American female finisher (7th place for women) and broke the American masters’ record! Wowee! I wish I could have seen her cross the finish line. I don’t think her crossing was covered, such a shame. (If it was covered, then I missed it. I had to watch the marathon and work at the same time, so I couldn’t pay full attention, but I’m pretty sure that they didn’t show her crossing the finish line.)
  • While watching Chicago, I nicknamed Luke Puskedra as “The Great White Hope.” He’s one tall dude. It was funny watching him loom over the other much shorter elites. I read somewhere that the lack of pacers helped Puskedra get increased TV time because he wouldn’t have been with the front pack if there had been pacers. Towards the end of the marathon, we anxiously looked for him in the horizon and anxiously counted how many runner he was back. We were delighted with his 5th place showing.
  • I like watching marathons, but I think I prefer watching track, especially middle distance. No particular reason why.

9 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Chicago Marathon Coverage

  1. Since they did away with pacers, I was surprised to see they didn’t have women start earlier, since apparently women’s records don’t “count” if they’re “paced” by men starting at the same time.

    I also looked for video of Deena Kastor finishing and couldn’t find it!

    And regarding the commentary on the women’s race, I thought it was irritating to hear them say “There’s Kiplagat…and the Japanese runner…” Seriously, you couldn’t check her name?

  2. I’m fine with women’s records not counting if they don’t have a separate start, ONLY IF men’s records also don’t count if they have pacers. It’s a double standard to say men can have pacers, but women can’t.

    The commentary was just embarrassing all around.

    • I think it’s only a “world’s best” if women run with men, and a world record if it’s a women’s only race (ie separate start). I think they’re allowed to have female pacers, but I feel like I never read about female pacers for elites…

      • I don’t think there are female pacers for the elites because there aren’t any who can run that fast for 20 miles. One way of having female pacers is to have a pacer (or a set of pacers) set the pace for the first 10 miles and then another set of pacers for the second set of 10 miles. It’s not the same as having the same pacers for 20 miles, but it’s one work around the regulation if they would accept it. I doubt it, but it’s a proposal.

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