The Art of the Race Report

I have my athletes write race reports after each event, both for their own benefit and to share with each other. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on structure. Usually, it’s a narrative detailing what happened when, how it felt, any strategy deployed, and conclusions about what worked and what can be improved on next time. Sometimes there’s a course description. They’re always fun to read, and they always teach something: about how to race that race, about coping with intensity, about the athlete.

This year, I’ve gotten some reports that follow a different template.
On a mile open-water swim, third in a series, in a lake with a lot of vegetation, a haiku:

A weedy surprise;
With two hundred fifty friends;
Four minutes faster.

On a 10K, run through (and back again) as part of a long run, a limerick:

There was a small race called the Mashpee
That rolled from the ocean to the town green.
I held marathon pace
in a “where’s-the-pack?” place.
At the finish line the beer was free!

On a marathon, a “review” in the style of Booklist, written by a librarian (there is a novella of a narrative to match; this is simply the précis):

Ruffin Powell has finally made the leap into the long form with her new marathon novel, Marine Corps Marathon 2009. In 26.2 chapters of running, Powell traverses all the challenges of the training cycle, starting out with confidence and unwarranted speed in the first 11 miles of a crowded course and ideal weather. The middle chapters trace her journey through the Washington Mall, cold with self-doubt in the shadow of Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration hat. As she is released from the fugue of footfalls in the 20th mile, Powell finds again her voice and rhythm, familiar and transformed by perseverance. Her smiling (if shaking) acceptance of the medal and the “oohyah” commendation of the Marines are pitch-perfect. The frequent, supportive meetings with her husband Jeremy and calm in intensity indicate her growth as an athlete since her shorter works, such as Canton 10K 2007. The McGyver-style creativity replacing a lost piece on her Camelbak with a bit of cork is not to be missed. Powell truly fulfills her project in the quest for self-knowledge. Highly recommended.

One Response to “The Art of the Race Report”

  1. jindi says:

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