As a runner, I sometimes enjoy the excitement of an attempt at a record. I enjoy the excitement of a competitive race as well. To me both have their place in the sport. I will say that it is the competitve running side of me that enjoys watching a “time trial”. The vague concept I have of what it takes to run that distance in that time in relatively inspiring, and exciting in itself for me. In the end, a race is how fast a person or group of people can run from point a to point b……sure, its more exciting when there are true and relatively equal competitors out there gutting and pushing to the finish. But I think there should be equal reverance for what it takes to run a record. Thats just me.
In the end, racing is about who gets from point A to point B first. Medals are not given out for time, only for place.
As far as packing stadiums for the likes fo Ryun and others – some of the true epic races. My honest opinion of this lies with how society has evolved – probably for a large variety of reasons. I didn't realize that there was a mainstream running media machine – if so it is a pale image of its other sporting counteparts.
Sure, it was merely stated that it was a part of it, not the entire reason. As far as mainstream running press, drop into a bookstore sometime and there should be a representative or two on the magazine rack: RT, RW, T&FN. Those show up on the magazine rack at the bookstore in my town anyway, alongside SI, ESPN, Tennis, Velo News, et alia. It was not claimed that the mainstream running press rivals that of other sports, by the way, only that it exists and that it sends messages to the running community.
I dont' much like talking about why running isn't the way it was back then, and why we aren't packing stadiums for races like bannister / landy. It makes me recall listening to my parents complain about how things were better when they were younger.
Then skip it, no big deal and no need to 'complain' about it. Recognizing what has changed is hardly 'complaining', nor is whether those changes have on the balance led to progress or not. Not for those who passionately care about the sport, anyway.
Look – all sports have only one natural direction – and that is to be better than the performances of the previous day, right? All sports these days strive to be faster, stronger, better. Time Trials and records are a tangent of that cry. Running hasn't morphed in this regard to the degree other sports have……can anyone remember when basketball was a defensive game?
In basketball, the key is still to win the game, not to win the most statistical categories. (FYI, the typical winner of the NBA Finals the past several years (i.e. Detroit or San Antonio) has been a notably defensive-minded team.) A win is a win, statistics are simply a way to measure areas of strength and weakness within the overall game.
For fans and contestants alike, competitors chasing after or running away from each other is quite tangible, it is elemental. Conversely, chasing after or running away from a time is abstract, it requires a certain suspension of disbelief no matter how widespread it becomes accepted.