68: The 100-miler: Part 15 (1975-1976) Andy West


Manage episode 280474670 series 2396657
על ידי Davy Crockett התגלה על ידי Player FM והקהילה שלנו - זכויות היוצרים שמורות למפרסם, לא ל-Player FM, והשמע מוזרם ישירות מהשרתים שלכם. הירשמו כדי לעקוב אחר עדכונים ב-Player FM, או הדביקו את כתובת העדכונים באפליקציות פודקאסט אחרות.
By Davy Crockett Since the dawn of the sport of ultrarunning more than a century ago, a unique breed of ultrarunner has existed which I will call the "self-promoter." They were skilled in using their running talents to gain fame and fortune, mostly by doing "stunts" rather than participating in competitions. There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking to make a living this way. Before World War II, most ultrarunners were "professionals" who lived off winnings, wagers, and gate receipts from doing stunts. But sadly, many self-promoters would make false claims, play on the sympathies of a gullible public, and some would resort to fraud and thievery. When telling the history of the sport, these stories of self-promoters must be delicately pointed out so that their achievements can put in their proper place. Caution must be used to sort through a multitude of claims to find the legitimate. In 1985, Gary Cantrell (of Barkley fame) warned the sport about this type of runner who would step forward to claim an undeserved spotlight for gain, disrespecting the entire sport. Ultrarunning historian, Andy Milroy, explained that there were indeed some true scam artists that were quite skilled at their craft. “Many of the rest were delusional who believed they had run the distances claimed. Most saw it as an easy meal ticket.” Self-promoting practices crept into 100-mile history and had a place in it, good or bad. Typically, once the runner received some fame, they performed self-promoting stunts to gain local or national attention, often in the guise of raising money for charity. Some were scammers who were hard to detect at the time, and they were mostly adored. Others were legitimate talents who figured out creative ways to shine the spotlight on their accomplishments. Patterns of behavior of these runners have been similar over the decades. Most of these ultra-distance runners had true talent, would become serious self-promoters, and then would shy away from true competition against the best in the sport. Instead of competing, they put on stunts that would impress others. Their goal was typically to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records, which during the 1970s had low standards of verification. These runners often claimed their own created "world records," sought after speaking engagements, and inspired many with their stories (with a little or a lot of fiction sprinkled in). Occasionally a skeptical reporter would find out that many of their accomplishments were actually falsified, that they claimed feats that never happened. Not all self-promoters were frauds, but most of the frauds were self-promoters who claimed they were the best ultrarunners in the world. Past Examples Over the years, many self-promoting stunt artists gravitated toward accomplishing walks or runs across America, or even the entire world in record times, or doing other such amazing accomplishments. In the early 1900s an army of "globe trotters" showed up in towns nearly every month in the Midwest United States, claiming to be on amazing journeys on foot, seeking lecture opportunities and free room and board. More than 90% of them were frauds. (See episodes 23, 40, and 41). Some runners just made claims about things they did in long-past years that were impossible to verify at the time. An early example was Dumirtru Dan (1890-1978), who became a Romanian hero in the late 1960s. He claimed that he walked 60,000 miles in 1910-1916, all over the world in an "amazing race" of hundreds of runners. He spent the latter years of his life touring, increasing his fame, lecturing, and teaching children about geography using his tales. He was kind and loved by all. Years after his death, nearly $100,000 was spent for a room in a museum about him, his grave was made into a shrine, and an endurance race is still named after him. But sadly, no one took the time to verify his impossible claims, most of which never happened.

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