Oh, look: It’s The Real Amazing Race
Ben Kaplan, who writes about running for the National Post, has put together a guide to 56 of “our favourite events next year.”
I’m not quite sure whom he’s including when he says “our.” Does he mean himself and the graphic artist who helped design the accompanying map? Does he mean the readers? Are there multiple Ben Kaplans?
And there’s another joke right off the top: the headline states: “Marathon Man: Our guide to the real amazing race – 56 of them across Canada.”
Except the article has 57 races.
Whatever the case, the map is hardly representative of Canada. Of the 57 events included, 13 are set in Toronto and 16 in British Columbia, while the others are scattered across the country, no doubt in an effort to be an inclusive. ( You can find the map here: http://life.nationalpost.com/2013/01/18/marathon-man-our-guide-to-the-real-amazing-race-canada-56-of-them-across-the-land/)
Well, it’s a pretty miserable effort. Atlantic Canada is represented with a total of six – count ’em, folks, six! – races.
Yes, that pretty much sums up the race scene here in the boonies, six of them – two in Halifax, one in Saint John, one in Cape Breton, and two in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Prince Edward Island didn’t even rate a race, a fact I’m sure is going to delight the folks at one of the region’s best loved marathons, The Prince Edward Island Marathon in Charlottetown.
And while the PEI Marathon is the big race on the island, it’s not the only race either. Far from it. The PEI Roadrunners mount a vigorous series every year of half marathons, and 10 and 5 km races, many of them classics in their own right.
It’s the same in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. One of the races he picks as a “favourite” is the Fiddler’s Run in Cape Breton. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a small, quirky event, offering some local color. Personally, if I was going to pick one race on Cape Breton – and there are more than that – I’d have to single out the Cape Breton Relay Run, a massive event every spring that is now attracting teams from as far away as France.
Elsewhere in Nova Scotia, Kaplan singles out The Hypothermic Half and the Scotiabank Bluenose Marathon in Halifax. The Hypo Half is popular with new runners, while the Bluenose retains its status as one of the larger regional marathons, albeit one troubled time and again with course misdirections.
But why not include, say, the Johnny Miles Running Event Weekend in New Glasgow? The race is not only a wildly successful and popular event, but also named for a storied runner who came from Nova Scotia and won the Boston Marathon twice and who represented Canada at the Olympic Games twice and who was made a member of the Order of Canada and inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame.
Or what about the Dartmouth Natal Day Road Race, one of the oldest in Canada, and still a strong draw every summer?
It’s ludicrous that New Brunswick is represented with only one event, Ben’s Marathon by the Sea. Legs for Literacy in Moncton is not my favourite race personally, but many first-time marathoners have gotten their first 26.2 there and it should be represented.
I could go on, but I’d only be making the same point again and again. Kaplan’s trail race choices are equally puzzling: he disregards all the well-known ones, suggesting not so much that he’s trying to point runners to undiscovered events, but rather he’s just not that up to speed on which events are the ones really worth hitting.
The running map is a cool idea poorly executed. True, this is a supposedly a subjective guide from Kaplan, but it’s stunningly narrow in its choices. Next time, the “marathon man” might want to either do more research or just stick to those “general lifestyle” stories he writes.
Update: I guess the joke’s on me. A savvier reader than me pointed out that Kaplan’s articles is “presented by the Running Room.” That might explain why three Hypo Half races were listed and there well may be other Running Room sponsored races I’m not aware of positioned as some of “our favourite” races.
I understand the need for newspapers to find innovative ways to bring in revenue these days, but they should still clearly alert readers to when they’re reading advertorial as opposed to editorial copy.
I guess the “real” amazing race isn’t so real, after all.