Larry Rawson’s weight comments at the Boston Marathon

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Lightweight? Yes. Also and more important: powerful, extremely fit, amazing stamina.

Did Larry Rawson do a disservice to young and likely not so young runners across America? In my opinion, yes.

I didn’t see the coverage live. I saw a lot about the topic as it was happening via Twitter, though, and it reminded me of previous races I did see live where Rawson constantly focused on the weight of the elite female runners. When I saw some replays of the race, I heard at least some of his comments and heard what I feared but also expected given his history.

During the race, as he has done during other races, Rawson repeatedly references the weights of certain members of the elite women’s field. He at times seems fixated on their weights, as if the weight of the runner is the most important factor in the race.

What does this do to the high school runners watching the race who want to emulate these runners? When a commentator focuses this much on the weight of the runners, it will appear to some who are watching that weight is the key to their success.

The truth, as is obvious to most of us who will read this, is much more complex. Yes, weight matters. There’s a reason 150 pound women and 200 pound men aren’t winning major marathons. However, there’s much more than just weight.

I would argue that even more important than weight is strength (or power) to weight ratio. Obviously, also, aerobic and muscular endurance. Efficiency also matters. As do various other things that are too numerous to list.

We already have a problem in this sport. Some ill informed coaches and others who young runners, especially girls and young ladies, take advice from already place way too much importance on weight. Eating disorders are a problem for too many runners. I’ve seen the damage eating disorders can do. While these disorders are complex, focusing too much on the weight of the elite runners surely doesn’t help.

Before he does this again, I would ask Rawson what kind of message he wants to send.

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