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March 6, 2018

A Running Tour de France: A Good or Bad Idea?

On the second episode of Running Things Considered, our new bi-weekly podcast in which runners can call in and leave us a wild story or question to discuss on the show, a Citwit called in and proposed the idea of a running version of the Tour De France.

You can listen to the podcast below. The call begins at the 48-minute mark. 

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CITIUS MAG CALLER asks: I was thinking about the Tour de France and how they do 25 races in a month or something like that. It’s pretty intense. Why can’t there be something like that for running? Maybe not every day but four weeks with four to five races per week. Maybe a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and a wildcard distance like 15K. You get a couple days off. I think it would be fun and I think people could go pretty fast. What do you guys think about that? How fast do you think someone could run a Tour de Running?

Ryan Sterner: NOT FAST! They would all be injured.

Thoms Heynk: No, guys.You don’t get it. He thinks that they could do it. That’s the alternative point. He thinks that they’ll be fast. You think that it wouldn’t be fast. There’s his argument refute it.

Nicole Bush: The closest I can get to making this somewhat relatable is that in Michigan for the state meet, they do four divisions all in the same place. So there’s this idea that as a collegiate male, could you win all four of the girl’s races. That’s as close as I can get to the thought of running way too many times. I can’t get behind this Tour de Running.

Thoms: That seems very sexist.

Nicole: How so?

Thoms: I think it’s sexist because…probably yes is the answer?

Nicole: Uh no. I mean some of the girls in Michigan are running pretty fast. You don’t have to be a good college guy. I don’t remember when this question exactly took place but some girls were running like 17 minutes for for the 5K but even then, there’s a big time difference. You’re going to get super stiff and then you’ll have to try and run these races.

Thoms: What he’s proposing is a month-long thing of running. Running sucks. What he’s saying is that everyone runs a marathon and then there’s other races in that week. The biggest thing is that running kinda sucks.

Nicole: A certain type of runner would decide that this is fun.

Thoms: If you’re Chris Chavez then running marathons is great.

Chris Chavez: This is kind of adding two or three more days to what the Disney running series are like. You run a 5K or 10K, a half and then the full marathon in a span of three days.

Nicole: That’s a real thing? Not just a trail thing?

Thoms: Yes, it’s a real thing, Nicole.

Nicole: So, you’d add a few races on and then do that for four weeks.

Chris: That sounds absurd.

Thoms: I think you could. I think that cyclists even in the Tour De France could do each individual stage of the race much faster than they do.

Ryan: Who’s that guy…Dean Karnazes?

Thoms: Ah! The ultramarathon man. 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states.

Nicole: Remember, at the end of the call he said “how fast?”

Thoms: I think that’s the big thing to consider is that runners could do this but it just wouldn’t be good running. You would be very upset. Let’s the example of someone like a Jordan Hasay. She’s not going to be running that marathon anywhere near as fast as she could run. She’d probably run it somewhere around 2:35 or 2:40.

Nicole: She’s also not going to sign up for the whole thing. (Laughs)

Thoms: She would sign up for the whole thing in this hypothetical scenario, Nicole. Like a couple years ago, remember that 4xMile at the Penn Relays where everyone got upset that the final leg went really slow? It doesn’t matter how fast you run a 4xMile. What matters is that you win. Collectively, these guys decided on the last leg to sit on each other and then just go. It pissed everyone off. In cycling, that’s kind of what it is. It’s a multi-stage race. Everyone is saving for the next day. First off, everyone would fucking hate this idea. Secondly, it wouldn’t be very fast.

Nicole: Would you have to police for walking?

Ryan: I think you would invite it.

Nicole: But then it’s not running.

Thoms: I don’t think that anyone would walk. I think that a normal running pace could handle it. It would not be good running.

Ryan: I don’t think it would be entertaining at all. This guy is saying, ‘Oh, I think it would be great!’ I have no desire to watch something like that.

Thoms: This sounds like one of those things where it’s like ‘The Tour De France is really popular so let’s bring that idea to running.’ I think that’s an issue that we get into with running a lot. Something is a good idea somewhere else but it doesn’t necessarily translate.

Nicole: I think the biggest difference is that cycling is low-impact. Where in this, you’re going to need medics for blown-out everything….There will be some people who are like ‘Yeah! Let’s do it!’ but that’s the people who also think ultramarathons aren’t fun enough. I can barely get behind a marathon.

Thoms: Think about Shelby Houlihan at World Indoors. She ran a 1,500 and a 3K – That’s a lot. Add on top of that all the other distances…

Nicole: Maybe an all-out 400 at the end?

Thoms: But Shelby can do it because she can do it all. There’s no way that’s entertaining if everyone is doing it. Decathletes don’t run good 1500s.

Sterner: Yeah! If you want this, there already is a multi-stage event over a couple days. It’s called the decathlon and the heptathlon. They do it all the time.


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