There’s a bit of a backlash brewing against Nike after the woman with the fastest time in the Nike Women’s Marathon wasn’t declared “the winner” because she wasn’t among the elite group of marathon runners who start separately from the rest of the pack.
Arien O’Connell, a fifth-grade teacher from New York City, had the best time in last Sunday’s marathon, in fact, she beat the next best time by 11 minutes. So why isn’t she the winner?
In the statement, Nike officials said that “because of their earlier start time, the runners in the elite group had no knowledge of the outstanding race Arien was running and could not adjust their strategies accordingly.”
Weary of the backlash growing against them, Nike declared Ms. O’Conell “a winner.” Not “the winner.” This appears to have made things worse.
It turns out that there was really no need for an elite group of runners, because no one was running an “elite” time.
…the Nike marathon in San Francisco doesn’t have anyone running a world-class time – which would be something around 2 hours and 20 minutes – for the 26.2-mile course. Only O’Connell broke 3 hours – and she’d never done it before.
“I think that’s what it comes down to,” O’Connell said. “There is not a real definition of what it means to be in an elite field.”
That’s where the Nike event got in trouble. If it had recognized that there was no need for an elite pack, and everyone had lined up and run, the fastest time would have been the winner. No argument.
In fact, that was the other part of Nike’s announcement Wednesday.
“Learning from the unique experience in this year’s race,” it said. “Nike has decided today to eliminate the elite group from future Nike Women’s Marathons. Next year, all runners will run in the same group, and all will be able to win.”
Marathoner ‘a’ winner; Nike looks like a loser [SFGate] (Thanks, Guy!)