Updated: Runner’s World distances itself from freelancer over sexist remarks

Updated: Jon Gugala changed his Twitter profile late today. The profile no longer identifies him as a writer for Runner’s World, Running Times and Competitor Magazine.  Of the three, only the latter did not tweet about Gugala’s remarks, which sparked controversy on Twitter and in a number of forums across the Internet. The other two publications quickly moved to inform readers that they did not condone Gugala’s remarks and that he was not covering the Boston Marathon for either magazine.

Besides Gugala’s belittling comments on Twitter to individuals who challenged the wording of his tweets, several of his remarks made while live-blogging the Boston Marathon infuriated a number of people.

Gugala ended up tweeting an apology.

Not everyone was upset with the freelance writer. Gugala roughly doubled his number of Twitter followers in the 24-hour period, and a number of them expressed support for what they viewed as his humorous take on running.

Updated: Jon Gugala issued an apology on Twitter around 4:30 Atlantic Time.

“I’m grateful people care enough about this wonderful sport to dialogue about its portrayal. My apologies to those I offended by [sic] my views,” Gugala tweeted.

The writer’s live blogging and subsequent comments to bloggers caused two prominent running magazines to issue statements condemning his remarks. In a number of running forums around the Web, runners and others debated whether or not the writer’s comments were offensive.

Gugala nearly doubled the number of Twitter followers during the controversy.

Update: Running Times issued the following statements on Twitter this morning:

“We’re aware of tweets sent by @jongugala during the Boston Marathon. He wasn’t covering the race in any way for @runningtimes.”

“The views he expressed are absolutely not ours & we don’t condone them.”

Here’s an object lesson in 15 minutes of fame.

Writer Jon Gugala, who on Twitter described himself as a freelancer for Runner’s World, Running Times, Competitor and others, made some less than politically correct posts on Twitter while live-tweeting (on his own dime) about Monday’s Boston Marathon.

Which tweets aggravated the Twittersphere? Hard to say, because it seems like there were so many to choose from.

Maybe it was the one about “Chaos in the women’s pack as overeager volunteers turn a hydration station into a wet t-shirt contest. Lead pack of five, led by Cherop.”

Or could it have been: “Matebo is sweating, the kind you have a on a hawt day and the bottowms of your shorts are so soaked they sticking to your legs. 82 degrees.”

Who knows. But shortly after, some Twitter folks called him out for sexism – and that’s when it got really ugly.

In response to the charges, Gugala tweeted: “Apparently there’s a blog somewhere about how I’m a misogynist and hate women’s running and my PRs are soft. No one included the link.”

And: “I’m really glad you found the time to enlighten me. It sounds like you follow the sport closely. And you have a blog! Wow!!!!!!!!”

And, “Yeah, you guys have probably done me in. I’m finished. I should start waiting tables. You don’t really know how this works, do you?”

Well, apparently they did, because within the last hour Runner’s World wiggled as far away as possible from Gugala and issued the following two tweets:  “We’re aware of the tweets sent by @jongugala during the Boston Marathon. He wasn’t covering the race in any way for@runnersworld…”

And, “The views @jongugala expressed are absolutely not ours, and we don’t condone them.”

Gugala, who had at last count had 283 people following him, has been silent.


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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14 Responses to Updated: Runner’s World distances itself from freelancer over sexist remarks

  1. Tracy says:

    I think it might maybe have been my blog that started the maelstrom. It was mine that he was responding to, at least.

    • subthree says:

      Tracy, I’ll have a look and follow up – likely tomorrow. It’s 12:30 a.m here. But what an interesting story, on a number of levels, this one is. It will definitely require a follow-up post. I’m looking forward to reading your blog tomorrow.

  2. He also made a tweet referring to one of the female runners (an American, I think) as a “great white hope” — people may or may not see that as racist, but it definitely is a loaded term. But, he’s certainly not the first sportswriter or sports blogger to be known for having an “edgy,” non-PC, shoot-from-the-lip “attitude.”

    • subthree says:

      While I recognize the pressure on and attitude of journalists to pump a story to gain more readers (after all, I’m one, myself), do you think referring to a runner as a “great white hope” is appropriate? Do phrase it another way: would you define another runner as a “great black hope?” Probably not (at least, I wouldn’t). Being edgy is one thing; but where do you think the limits extend?

      • No, I don’t think it’s appropriate at all … that’s why I mentioned it. But, I also don’t read/listen to most sports columnists, bloggers, talk radio, etc. because it seems like a lot of what they’re doing is expressing strong, sometimes outrageous opinions to stir up controversy– which of course gets them more comments, readers, and publicity. (Look at how much chatter this guy’s Boston comments have stirred up… and he has fewer than 300 Twitter followers!)

        I haven’t read his articles in RW, etc., so I don’t know if they are similarly irreverent, etc. (If they are, perhaps that’s why they publish his work). Or even if he’s a good writer about running, for that matter.

        I don’t really care for this guy, based on what I’ve read, so I’m not going to spend any more time thinking or reading about him. That, to me, would be more than he deserves, and it would just help promote him.

      • subthree says:

        Good point about the amount of churn he’s generated with his comments with just 300 Twitter followers. A budding Howard Stern, perhaps? And, no, I haven’t checked out his previous articles – something to do next, perhaps. Thanks for commenting, reading and your perspective.

  3. I follow a lot of runners on Twitter (including you, of course); Tracy and several others were talking about it, so I scrolled through the guy’s feed a bit to see what the hubbub was about. I have the unfortunate habit of, when hearing about news or controversies online, looking into them to find out what they’re about (a really bad, time-sucking habit for a self-employed writer to have).

    • subthree says:

      Tell me about it. I find social media eats hours of my day when I could be…reading, hanging with my dogs, talking to real people.Call it the curse of the journalist. Say! I think there might be a film there. Care to collaborate? Do you just dip in here or follow? I’d be grateful for a real follow. My promise: never boring. Cheers. As always, thanks for commenting and reading.

  4. thedcc says:

    Thanks for the heads on on this tweet and following up on the situation. And Tracy was the start of the craziness. She was the blogger out there that Jon was talking about.

    • subthree says:

      Well, it’s not every day a major publication distances itself from someone in public, so that certainly took it beyond the realm of a personal dispute and make it newsworthy. Thanks for reading.

  5. Describing a contest between two professional athletes as ‘girl on girl action’ is disrespectful at best. And I’m normally the first person to make crude lesbian jokes, but in the context of covering professional athletes competing in a professional event, it was wildly inappropriate.

    • Tracy says:

      Obviously I agree, but to be fair, his comments on the race weren’t anywhere near as damaging as how he responded after that. If he’d simply said, “You know what, Sara, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean any offense by my comments,” then this would have all blown over. Instead he dug his heels in, got on the defensive, and went off on an illogical and quite absurd attack.

    • subthree says:

      I can’t argue with your statement. Obviously, there was a reason Running Times and Runner’s World issued the statements that they did. In the meantime, Gugala’s Twitter following is actually increasing, last time I checked his feed.

      • Tracy says:

        Let’s also not forget that not only did he delight in the accusation of sexism, but he called a fellow journalist “some dumbass from the WSJ” in a public tweet. Again, totally inappropriate.

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