Jay Danek, a Facebook friend and fellow ultrarunner, recently wrote a post about complaining to race directors. I liked the way Jay handled the situation, which included jumping to a conclusion before cooling off. Hats off, Jay.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of complaining in races. Here are a few examples:
- Lady at Western States in ’11 was bitching to an aid station worker because they didn’t have enough flavors of Gu.
- Middle aged woman complained there weren’t enough porta-potties at Across the Years, a timed race on a one mile loop (there were about 20 porta-potties and one permanent bathroom around the loop).
- Dude at the San Juan 50k complained that the race director changed the course the night before the race due to an unexpected snow storm (the change was required by the National Forest Service; the alternative was cancelling the race).
- A woman complaining because the VOLUNTEER aid station workers at one aid station during the Bighorn 100 didn’t know what electrolyte capsules were.
- Some guy was loudly complaining that a hiker had removed some course markings at the Grand Mesa 100 miler immediately before the race.
- Many people complained that the first aid station on the last stage of the TransRockies stage race was three miles longer than advertised.
These are just a handful of examples. In my opinion, all of these examples were within the realm of “random unexpected shit that happens in long trail races.” As such, the complainers should not have complained.
Why did they complain?
As a society, we’re far too entitled. We believe we deserve special treatment. After all, we paid the race fee. This is OUR race… everybody had damn well better treat us like princesses!
At least that’s what seems to be the root of this epidemic of complaining. Maybe I’m just sensitive to the issue because I have little tolerance for complainers. This is doubly true in races that are supposed to present difficulties that need to be overcome. In essence, ultrarunners are supposed to be tough and adaptable. Being a crybaby because something doesn’t go your way is a character trait I cannot tolerate… especially in runners.
I propose a moratorium on complaining. If you enter a race and something minor goes wrong, suck it up and deal with the adversity. Don’t complain about or yell at volunteers. They’re donating their time to help your sorry ass. If the race director makes an catastrophic error, contact them privately. Don’t bitch to other runners, volunteers, or spectators. In short, don’t be a little bitch.
- All race directors give information about the race. If you experience a problem because you didn’t prepare for the expected conditions, that’s YOUR fault. Don’t complain.
- If something happens that’s out of the race director’s control, that’s not their fault. Don’t complain.
- If something unexpected happens and it’s a fairly typical experience in the race you’re running, it’s your responsibility to prepare for contingencies. Don’t complain.
- If the race director really does suck and make a ton of errors, simply stop running their races.
The lesson- don’t be a little bitch. You’re annoying the rest of us that take pride in our sport’s difficulty.
What do you think? Anyone else annoyed by supposedly “tough” runners complaining about stupid shit?