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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

VIEWPOINT: Race runners need to abide by rules

It seems so rare these days that common folk can agree upon anything.

Whether we’re debating the most ideal methodology to repair the economy, if we should continue to occupy or leave Iraq or just how the Packers should formulate a game plan to beat No. 4 (oops, I mean the Vikings), our community seems to find one topic after another to draw ourselves apart.

Well, I for one thought we had finally unearthed an issue, or more accurately, a hero that could afford us at least a few minutes of collective praise.

Last weekend, Nate Weiland won the 32nd annual Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital. He also won the 31st last year. This guy can run. No doubt about that.

But it appears Nate’s legs are not the only body part that does any running. In what has to be the most bizarre finish in the race’s history, Nate ran around the finish line rather than through it. And his reason for zigging when he should have zagged, you ask?

World peace? A sizable charitable contribution to Al’s Run from MapQuest? A groundbreaking new Nike commercial?

Not quite.

Weiland failed to cross the finish line to protest last week’s decision to disqualify two of his friends from a local marathon for breaking the rules. Yes, you read that correctly.

Nate feels his friends were wrongly stripped of their first and second place finishes because he deemed their infractions more as “technicalities” than actual rules.

Those “technicalities” (also known as rules to the rest of the planet) were explained splendidly by Lakefront Race Director Kris Hinrichs. He said, “the whole concept is what is available to one runner is available to all runners.” Now there’s a radical concept reeking of unfairness, heh?

Worse still, these were not rules that were just introduced for this particular race, but rules that have been established for years by these folks known as the United States Track and Field governing body.

One would think Weiland and his “consumed marathon runners,” as he said, would be aware of such marathon common law. For crying out loud, one of the ousted runners actually admitted to never having read the rules until after the race, even though they are readily available on the race’s Web site under the tab “Pre-Race Frequently Asked Questions.” Now, do these errors make either of these young women any less of a runner? Of course not.

Listening to an iPod while running in a competition or taking water from unofficial, non-designated water stops is hardly criteria to support a lifetime ban from any sport. These errors though, of course, do carry consequences.

This is simply a fact of life. If we were all allowed to choose which rules applied to us and which did not, life could get very interesting, very quickly. The federal tax code for instance, is full of “technicalities.” Now, go ahead and ask a certified public accountant which are important and which are … well, worthy of overlooking.

What about our lives as students and employees here at Marquette? Certainly “technicalities” on a university campus number in the millions — who’s to say we need to pay attention to those that do not personally strike us as worthwhile? I’m sure we can all think of a few.

See, in the end, while Weiland thought he was standing up for right, he appeared just the opposite: someone who feels his interpretation and application of the rules supersede those that are defined by and apply to everyone else. He was wrong.

And kudos to Hinrichs and the USATF for standing up for right, even if perhaps it influenced one poor finish. After all, you can’t win them all.

James Lewek graduated in ‘09 from the College of Professional Studies

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  • A

    andreaOct 15, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I haven’t run in awhile, but I DO remember seeing that Ulrich Harper has a point. I recall seeing a possibility of a rule change, but I don’t know if it ever happened. If it DID happen then I take back my “dork” comment. If the rules still stand as I remember them, then my “dork” comment stands. 😉

  • A

    andreaOct 15, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    What a dork.

  • U

    Ulrich HarperOct 15, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Giving the two runners an official DQ is absolutely incorrect. While “elite” athletes vying for official placing at the finish are not allowed to use headphones or receive outside aid on the course, the recreational runner is allowed both. The correct resolution would have been to keep both women’s times as part of the official finish list, however neither women would be eligible for top finish placement – e.g. the winner would be the 3rd place finisher while these two runners would actually have finished before her.