Monday, July 09, 2007

Here is the un-annual, once in a blue-moon, review of running websites, and most importantly chatrooms, where you can get the latest and greatest on running and racing.

The Biggies. Bigger is not always better, but if you want to be up to date on the latest articles, news, and trends in the sport, you have to be in tune with these sites, such as Runnersworld, LetsRun, or Coolrunning.

Let's start with the best and go from there:
- Okay so the journalism can be shoddy and the forum is downright and childish and jaded. They're famous for poorly written and misspelled headlines and captions, the software is very mid-1990s, and sometimes the articles are sketchy, but the Brother's Johnson (Weldon and Robert) are also tireless promoters of the sport. They don't seem to be into for the money, but for the love of running. They get it. If there is a big race coming up, LetsRun is the place to look the best links and updates--often in real time or as close as you can get online.

The forum? Ha! Talk about a living and breathing contradiction. Once again, for updates on current events, it is often the best place. You can get some great advice from some of the current or former top runners, or just chat with them about some of their career highlights. Several leading coaches of the world also drop in frequently. That's the good part. The bad?

On a bad day, and there are many, the virtual sports world doesn't get any worse than the LetsRun forum. They'll laud a runner or coach one day, and then spend weeks tearing them down. The site is largely un-moderated (unless something really offensive goes up) so you get bucket loads of bad karma in there. Often, LetsRun kind of brings out the worst in everyone. However, you take the trolls and miscreants with a grain of salt, and put on an extra layer of your thickest hide, LetRun is a great resource. Coolrunning is also somewhat mixed. Coolrunning is also somewhat mixed. Its links to running news are decent, but it pales in comparison to LetsRun. They do provide a fairly substantial link to recent and past race results, dating back about 10 years now. The emphasis is on the Northeast and New England. Their own journalism is fair at best. I rarely read their articles or columns.

Coolrunning forums--Coolrunning offers more than 20 forums within 7 broader categories, ranging from newbies, to racing, to niches such as clydedales and athenas (heavy runners) and nutrition. Divide and conquer, perhaps. Some of these are very very active forums, with thousands of posts and dozens of threads a day, while others are relatively slow, with maybe just a few new threads a week. Discussions can range from the banal, to intense cuddle parties, to raging flame wars. In general, the Coolrunning crowd seems to be loyal to one another, although it's hard to generalize because it really is a virtual city.
ahh, the Evil Empire! For decades now, Runners World has dominated the popular side of running. To the purist at least, they have trashed that responsibility by promoting lowest-common denominator running, with monthly credos like "Do your best marathon at 8 miles a week!" Well, that's a slight exaggeration, but if you read the John 'The Penguin' Bingham or Jeff Galloway, the former Olympian who promotes walk breaks to running a faster, more enjoyable, recreational marathon, you get the point.

Nevertheless, their journalism is often good. They offer relevant and up to date interviews and articles. I, for one, have boycotted Runnersworld for years now. I was a pretty regular viewer (daily or close) until 2002 or 2003, when they sicced their lawyers onto the LetsRun website for "deep linking" an article. The Brojos had a front page link to a Runnersworld article, but the link went to the article, not the Runnersworld main page where a viewer would see all the ads and be compelled to buy all that ancillary crap that the magazine wants to promote. They were serious and were threatening to sue, shut down Letsrun, and were being overall whiney piss ants about the whole thing. An impasse lasted for weeks, and LetsRun agreed to stop the deep linking. From that moment on, I knew that Runnersworld was and is the Evil Empire. Amby Burfoot, you may have won Boston, and you are a decent writer, but you sold out decades ago; Galloway, you may be a nice guy, and kudos for a 1972 Olympic berth, but you are the running antichrist—you sold your soul to the devil; Penguin, you may be laughing all the way to the bank, but you suck. Other regular writers, editors, publishers. You are RunnersWorld, and you are guilty by association.

Forums--The Runnersworld forums are like Coolruning on steroids. Since I boycott them I rarely go over there. Generally, for running information, they're pretty weak.

Other biggies deserving honorable mention, Track and Field News and Running Times also have web pages and forums, but I'll leave the review to you:

Next Up: The smaller forums, looking for diamonds in the rough.


Blogger Robert said...

Hey this is nice, but I'm wondering how your bass playing is coming along. Let me know, i have gigs. R. Gal

8:53 PM  
Blogger wilson said...

Rob! I still can't hold a tune and lack manual dexterity. I hear you've done well as a studio and live musician, fullfilling your early dreams. Congrats.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

It is nice to hear from you, tell me more about yourself!

11:45 AM  
Blogger wilson said...

Rob here's my email:
Probably easier to talk that way.

4:26 PM  
Blogger wilson said...

Rob--check out my latest blog entry (January 1); that'll fill you in on what I've been up to all these years.

12:15 PM  

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