Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Whats A "Blue Collar"?

It is obvious that every old school/long hair/mutton chopped running fan in America wants Brian Sell to win on Saturday. They also want him to change the oil in their car and drink a can of Budweiser afterward. There is a clear image surrounding Sell in the running community, and I am not so sure it is entirely warranted.

As you can tell by the number of modifiers in that last sentence, I am wary of how such a statement might be taken. I am all for blue collar running. It is the hardcore, independent, pick yourself up by your own bootstraps and run fast as hell image that I someday would like to portray myself. I just don't think that applies to Sell.

It's not his fault. From what I can tell, Sell is a great guy who works really hard and deserves all the attention and good results that he gets. And he gets quite a bit. He did run 2:10 in Boston after all, which puts you in elite American marathoning status as far as I'm concerned.

He gets full support from Hansons and other places and is not exactly scraping by. In short: he is doing everything he can with his considerable resources to race as fast as he possibly can. What people don't want to admit though, is that he is doing everything that the so-called white collar elite guys are doing.

Yes, he is running 150 mile weeks while other guys, Abdi and Ritz for instance, are doing a bit less. That just means those guys don't think it would help them. Somehow this makes them less hardcore than Sell. I am 100% sure that if the shorter mileage guys thought running 300 mile weeks would make them better, they would do it. They do other things that are equally taxing with the considerable resources that they have. In short, again: Sell is working as hard as everyone and anyone else out there.

Mainly, I am just a bit put off that a guy like Sell, who is definitely an elite runner who gets all of the resources, income, and accolades that other elite runners get, has somehow taken the label of blue collar from the guys who actually are what I consider to be "blue collar" runners.

My guess is that most of the guys in the trials with real jobs, like most guys in America, are no longer working their 40 hours in some factory making elevator buttons or replacing car bumpers. Rather, they are working the "new blue collar" jobs, like underwriter at an insurance company, or data entry at a ne...wait, what was I talking about, I must have dosed off. For anyone who has experienced such a job, you know how draining and spirit destroying they are.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of guys out there who are living life like you and I, working (at least) 40 hour weeks at a soul sucking, uninspiring job, and still managing some seriously fast times (2:14s even). That is blue collar. Running miles and miles through predawn suburbia while the wife and kids are fast asleep in a safe, comfortable house that is paid for by heading to work right after that morning run with only a coffee cup's worth of support.

The fact: These guys are blue collar runners. They may not have the privilege of sleeping past 5:30, but let's at least let them keep the title. Sell seems like a great guy, but let's call a spade a spade. He is a professional runner no matter how dirty his fingernails are after his shift at Home Depot.

1 comment:

smd said...

Well said.