2019 has very much been a year of trail blazing, record breakers, and running the likes of we may never see again in our lifetime. However, such highs have also attracted a great deal of negativity. Online comment sections tearing apart great runners, scandals akin to the Nike Oregon Project meltdown, and rampant cheating and doping being exposed has become almost as commonplace and accepted in modern run world as the accomplishments of our elites. So much of how we appreciate the sport at large starts and stops with the people we consider to be elite- but what does that really mean?
Article by Jessica McBride (@babygotbanff)
What makes an elite athlete?
Elite (noun), a select group that is superior in terms of quality.
When we think on what makes an athlete an elite, we may consider several things. We take into account their records, the races they have won, their performances on the world stage, and for some distinctive runners in the vein of Flo-Jo we even consider their mechanics. These things all come together to make great athletes, elites we love to follow the rise and fall of, to marvel at their raw power.
With the rise of social media has come another power for the elite among us; to effect real change using their talents. In direct opposition to the belief that running is a selfish sport, there is a growing sect of elites working to promote charities and causes rather than themselves. This, greater still, has given way to a whole host of athletes of all skill levels pushing the limits to further their own charitable works, proving that elite is as much a drive as it is a result.
Eliud Kipchoge and his WildAid
Eliud Kipchoge is now best known for being the first man to break two hours on the marathon and is certainly one of the most recognizable men in racing today. Known as much for his smile and grace as his speed, Kipchoge is an easy fan favorite, his skill unmatched. Conversely, a favorite of Kipchoge’s is WildAid, a wildlife protection charity. In the years Kipchoge has served as an ambassador for the organization, he has made videos speaking out against poaching in Africa, and how he feels it is detrimental to the continent he loves. To support Kipchoge’s ambition to eliminate poaching and increasing conservation across the world, please visit: www.wildaid.org/donate
Dave Proctor Outrun Rare
Dave Proctor, Canadian ultramarathon runner extraordinaire, has led as an agent for change in the rare disease sector for many years. In his attempts to raise funds for the Rare Disease Foundation of Canada, Dave has attempted to break the transnational speed record, erected the first ever Canadian qualifier for the Big’s Backyard Ultra, broken the 100 mile speed record on a treadmill, and run commuted over a 100 miles to get to a 100 mile race- a race that Dave would go on to win and set a new CR. As the father of a child with a rare disease, Dave has always been open that he will continue to work tirelessly through his organization Outrun Rare to improve life for the 1 in 12 Canadians effected by rare diseases. In keeping with that Dave will be re-attempting to break the transnational speed record in 2020 to bring exposure to Outrun Rare and the Rare Disease Foundation. To support Dave, his son Sam, and his journey across Canada, please visit: https://outrunrare.com/home-2-2/donate/
Laura Townsend Sherrer and Survivorfest
Like Dave Proctor, Laura Townsend Sherrer is a proud Canadian ultra runner, currently on her way to running 50 ultras before age 50. Having a great drive to do good for others with her many talents and enthusiasm, Laura erected the Survivorfest 24-12-6 Hour Race in June of 2019 in the interest of funding the Saffron Centre in central Alberta, which provides support and services to the victims of sexual assault. In their first year the Survivorfest team managed to raise over $3,000 for the centre. Survivorfest will be opening registration for the June 2020 race on November 1st and will again be an IAU bronze qualifier. To register for Survivorfest 2020 or to support Laura and the Saffron Centre via donation, please visit: https://www.survivorfest24.com/
Join us for a continuation in our series on appreciating elites giving back to the sport and to society. Coming soon!