Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Learning, We Do

I remember it well, my last day as a non-fan of running. My teammate Ryan was on his way toward becoming regional champion in the 1600 and 3200 and brought an intentionality to most things he kept in his life. He had already been challenging me to think about movies in a way I thought one could only think about literature, when he suddenly asked me one day if I had heard about the cross country performance of a high school girl somewhere else in the country. I hadn’t.

She ran 17:23, he said.

Is that good for a girl? I blinked.

He directed me to Dyestat.com to read up on it. How can you do a sport that you don’t even know much about, he scolded, much more than queried.

Though I can’t be certain, I believe it was a Molly Huddle run that had provoked this exchange. And while I left the specifics back in my teenage years, I carried forward, from that very first visit to Dyestat, a newly inflamed passion for this sport — for what was now truly my sport. Dyestat treated high school running like it had value and merited interest. An entire nation of runners opened up to me. Soon — probably when Dathan Ritzenhein went and medaled at the World Junior Cross Championships — I caught the hint of an entire non-Olympic world beyond. With regards to running, as I learned about it, I became about it.

When Dyestat first was announced as the victim of the ESPN guillotine earlier this year, enough writing lauded the transformative power it had on American distance running that I can give that territory a pass here. But looking back though, I’m amused to note that, though I dreamed of being a state individual titlist and someday a sub-4:00 miler, I missed the boat when it came to drawing inspiration from my fellow American peers, as so many stand-out preps seemed to. I continued to train reasonably hard, but there wasn’t any new fire in my summers and winters.

Rather, I soon became a frequent poster on the local preps message board. The following year, with our team invited to the Great American Cross Country Festival, I scoured Dyestat for information on the schools we would be facing, trying to project who we might hope to beat, and who was going to be battling it out for the win in front of us. That I got caught up in the analysis and conversation, more than in the perspiration, was probably an auger for where I am now, telling athletics stories and trying to better know the sport and pass that knowledge along. That goal is certainly a foundational one for KIMbia.

Two weeks ago, Runnerspace announced that it has acquired Dyestat and will relaunch the high school stalwart this winter. As this great athletics asset whirs back to life, those of us in track and running media might reflect on Dyestat’s founding. And, knowing that a single great project can catalyze an entire sport, I hope that from TV broadcasts, to magazine coverage, to event production, and podcast publication, we will make certain we bring that same earnestness, passion, and care to the stories we tell.

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Jeremy Mosher is the producer of KIMbia’s multimedia, having directed The British Miler and produced Wisconsin to Worlds, Rookies Vs. the World, and Delilah.

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