Are you a "fan" of running?

It strikes me that whilst running is a popular passtime for the masses that it's not particularly well supported by those same people who lace up their trainers several days a week.

I propose that it would be difficult to find players for a 5-a-side footy team or Sunday league Rugby team who weren't also fans of the sport. They recognise that there is a gulf in abilities between the masses and the elites, but they are fans of the sport. I think the same could be said of recreational golfers, tennis players, etc. But I don't get the impression that many recreational runners are fans of the "sport" of running.

Is running as a sport less actively followed by those who would call themselves runners (albeit not in the same league as the pros)?

If so, is this because there aren't enough personalities or role models in the sport? I'm under the impression that in Kenya and Ethiopia that the elites are household names, so perhaps the lack of coverage or interest in the UK it a result of the relatively poor performance of our own elites. But if international success were the criteria then why football fans in the UK continue to view with interest the exploits of a team who have won only one international tournament, almost 50 years ago? By contrast British running has been hugely successful in that same period, especially in the early 80's with Cram, Ovett, Coe, Jones, etc.

Go along to a 5 aside footy match this weekend and see how many people can tell you which team is the top of the league, who the current lead scorer in the premiership is, who won the FA Cup last year, who the reigning world champions are. Compare that with recreational runners interest in their chosen activity. Stop a handful of runners, who are training for the VLM, and ask them who the world marathon record is held by, who won the Mens Marathon Olympic Gold in 2012, who won the womens 5000m or 10000m in London last year.

Running clearly does not receive the media coverage of football, but is there a causal relationship? And if so, in which direction? Is running just a less interesting sport to watch, but easy to participate in, given the low barriers to entry?

What are your thoughts?


  • I am a fan of running. I like to see the Kenyans, eithiopians etc and Eritreans slogging it out at the front. I don't think it has the excitement of a goal or a breakaway try but I do find it fascinating to watch.
  • I'm not interested in watching sport of any kind, including running.

    The only thing that interests me about it is seeing how effortless the very good ones make it look!


  • it depends what you mean. I'd happily watch a race and enjoyed the olympics but don't feel passionate about it the way I do about football or cricket.

    i probably should, but I am not. perhaps because the real thing I like about watching football is the cameraderie/sense of community involved in supporting a team. it's a social thing. running less so, although it can very much be from the point of view of the participant.

    as far as the media goes, as a sport running has much fewer potential points for debate. He ran fast didn't he. Yes, he won. the other chap was second fastest etc.

    whereas in football and other sports there are many more variables/contentions/potential areas of controversy so people can be boring about it and phone into the radio.

    but perhaps I am just not aware of the subtleties of running.

  • I don't associate enjoyment of doing a sport with that of watching it. I enjoy playing golf and snooker, but hate watching them. I love watching American football, but have no urge to play it.

    I do enjoy watching running, but really only at the bigger events like the Olympics, Worlds or Euros. I'll watch the odd Grand Prix event, but I wouldn't go out my way to watch it if it's broadcast on TV. Watching it live is better as I find I get a better sense of what they are actually achieving.

    I think in particular the distance events aren't often great television. The final lap or two yes, but to most the numerous laps round the track just doesn't work as a great spectator sport. I don't think triathlon or distance running outside of the likes of the Olympics will ever gather big viewing numbers no matter how popular they become for participation, as they don't translate as great spectator sports.

  • i enjoy watching running both on tv and at athletics meets, but i dont really watch long distance races or support them unless i know someone in it. the VLM on tv and the GNR are dull to watch, 

    But whilst i dont actively watch long distance running on tv, i do follow who's doing what, certain athletes careers etc. 

  • I drive a car but F1 is sporting Rohypnol. As I get older professional sport leaves me a bit cold, football especially. 

    Perhaps with a lot of running events tv doesn't do it justice, watch a distance event on tv and yes it is obvious they are fast but unless you appreciate times you don't really get a feel for how fast they are, it's a person running next to another person running. And a marathon as a spectator event is like "Wow! look at those elite runners go, oh they've gone" Mo Farah's races for example were exciting but not because of the speed and talent but because of the competitive nature of the events and the climaxes. Rowing is similar.

    Whereas even if you aren't a fan of snooker, golf, tennis, football etc you will see skills that you know are way beyond mere mortals and the high level of performance is a visual concept, so easier to quantify or grasp.

    Maybe it's just sub conciously we resent the skinny little whippets effortlessly clocking mileswe could barely sprint in the same time. Or is that just me?


  • I am a runner, triathlete,  and a fan, probably dating back to my early days when Dad used to take the family to see the big international meets. We also used to support the London-Brighton relay race. I was lucky enough to see the great Aussie runner Ron Clark when he set the world 1-hour track record and over the years have seen many other big names, so grew up not only running but watching too. Still really enjoy watching track and field.

  • David Falconer 3 wrote (see)

    I know of Mo Farrah thats about the extent of my knowledge.


    Is he a runner then ?

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