Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

If you read my Las Vegas Ragnar Race Report you'll know that I was called a cheater. Being called a cheater bothered me and still does.  I try and be a good person and never purposely do something wrong so this really eats at me.  But the fact is, according to the rules, we "cheated".  

As a reader posted yesterday
the rules in the race bible are really clear about injured or missing runners. Legs can not be split into pieces (section 10c), and if they are, it results in disqualification (section 8).
I've really struggled writing this post because as I admitted, according to the rules we cheated. My post originally went through all the background, justification and reasons for our actions but it doesn't change anything.  I could tell you about the lost runner, the injured runners and point out other teams that did the same thing. Basically we did it out of compassion for our team mates. It wasn't done to get ahead of any other team or to win 1st place. It wasn't done to be mean and spiteful or have poor sportsman conduct.  It was done to handle the problem as a team and as a team we decided to split up the leg.  

One of my team members put it best in his race report.

Cheating and my moral compass
Now, about the 'cheating'.  The rules are very clear about what to do if a runner has to drop out.  Did we adhere to them?  No.  Let me tell what we did do.  Our team found a way to do what no one individual on our team could.  As Dain put it:

We didn't call in another runner outside of our team of 12. If they want to call it cheating because of some technical detail, then fine I'm a cheater, but I know that as I was running up that hill there was no cheating each footstep, there was no cheating the heat, there was no cheating the wind. The entire distance was covered by members of a "team." It was a "team" event. I'm probably not the best one to say we aren't cheaters, but I really think we are okay.

Well said Dain.  Everyone from van 1 who ran that 10 mile leg suffered and sacrificed above and beyond what they originally signed up for.  They put in extra miles to help us finish what we couldn't in van 2.  Please explain to me what advantage we gained by having people (van 1 and Jon) run 4 legs.  Please tell me how we bumped some other team out of the running for a top 3 spot.  Please tell me how we are worse off for what we did.  Christina was called a cheater as she handed the baton to Brad.  I'm not upset with those making the accusations.  They didn't have all the facts.  But they should have given us the benefit of the doubt.  Anyone who has ever run distance knows that 'cheating' only does a disservice to the runner.  And in an event that touts the team experience, I think we may have broken the letter of the law, but we ran the spirit of the law.

Well said!

Happy Running!


Johann said...

Doing this when running for the love and fun of it is OK with me. If you do something to win a prize it is different. I would not feel bad about this at all.

Rae said...

Johann...I agree. They ran every mile with their 12 person team. They did so in a way that prevented injury or further illness to their runners. They enjoyed the Relay. I know this team personally, they pass on their enthusiasm and fun spirit to everyone they come in contact with. If they had placed first, second or third in any division, I believe they themselves would have declined the award...however I believe they earned the participant medals by completing the Ragnar Relay and showing spirit and enthusiasm while they did so. Ragnar on.

lindsay said...

I can agree with this. If you won a prize, I'd forfeit it cause I can see how you broke the rules as well--but not with the intent of cheating. Yea you broke rules of the race, but you weren't cheating. Cheating is when you actively work to improve your finish positioning, not sign up for extra mileage because a teammate is sick/injured.

Jon said...

Merriam-Webster defines cheat as follows:

cheat: verb \ˈchēt\
1: to deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud

2: to influence or lead by deceit, trick, or artifice

I don't think that anything we did during this race qualifies as "cheating." We didn't deprive any other team of anything valuable. The team that finished just before and just after us got the same darn medal as we did. In fact, if we had just given up, we would have been depriving ourselves of something valuable: finishing the race as a team. And I certainly don't think anything we did was deceitful. We've been nothing but open and honest about how things went. I think "cheat" is a wholly inappropriate verb. Perhaps "finish slightly outside the bounds of the rules" is a better description. That may just be the lawyer in me rationalizing things away.

Rob said...

First off, I thought this was going to be a post on you cheating on your nutrition goals by eating pumpkin pie :)

However, you guys are rule breakers not cheaters. People could have reported you for breaking rules. in which case you would have been penalized some time. But they didn't report you and I suspect you wouldn't have cared about the time penalty anyway.

As other posters have stated, it would have been less clear if you had won something as the rule breaking would have given you an advantage compared to the other competitors.

However, if you're doing the race for fun and to simply do it, who cares? Sounds to me like there are people who need to get a life.

Congrats on a good race.

Katie A. said...

You guys did nothing wrong. It's a silly rule. You did what you had to for the team, and in the end that is what counts!
Enjoy those medals, you all earned them!

Susan said...

Being a member of Van 1's team, I will never forget when we discussed what to do about helping Van 2, because you immediately volunteered to run the full 10 mile leg on your own! In my eyes that made you a hero not a cheater! I'm glad the men in our van stepped up to split it with you! You truly are an amazing women and you have my deepest respect!

Adam said...

Meh - I never understood why that was such an important rule anyway. Whatever I guess. You still paid your 10,000 bucks or whatever those races cost now.