You should stay for the 10k

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“If you give it a chance, you just might like it!”  

A phrase commonly used to try to convince children to eat their broccoli is one I’ve said a surprising amount in my short time as a track athlete. No, when I say it, I’m not trying to convince people to join the team — I’m trying to get them to stay for my race.   

For most of the campus population, Spring Term’s warm weather means open dorm room windows and study sessions on Main Hall Green. For distance runners, it means the start of outdoor track season and the inevitable and surprisingly controversial 10,000 meter race.  

Consisting of 25 laps around a 400m track, the 10k is the longest standard track event, and it’s my favorite to compete. I quickly learned that this was not a commonplace opinion; in fact, many other runners have voiced their support of changing the 10k at NCAA track meets to be a road event. Runners and non-runners alike have complained about watching it, saying it takes up too much time during a meet and is the most boring event. I get where they’re coming from (for the most part). If you’ve never seen one before, 6.25 miles in a tiny loop would probably seem a time-consuming, lackluster mess.  

In reality, the 10k is easily one of the most entertaining track events due to the very thing that people complain about — its length. Spanning anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes, it provides the longest form of entertainment for a spectator. My non-track friends, who only come to meets to see me as they don’t know anyone else on the team, certainly take advantage of it. With the 10k, they can experience 45 minutes of watching me running in circles and cheer me on 25 separate times.  

Even if you don’t have a friend racing, it’s still a good time for any and all spectators. Over the course of 10,000 meters, one can see race strategy, moves and coaching play out in a digestible way — which builds tension and anticipation as the event progresses. When the bell rings for the final lap, everyone following along is on the edge of their seats waiting for that concluding fast 400m to determine the runners’ final times and places.  

It’s a pure and brutal showcase of endurance, grit and perseverance that anyone — athlete or not — can appreciate. Lawrence students have the opportunity to watch it close to home, with the first meets on the new track being held on Friday, April 19 and Friday, May 3. So come give watching the 10k a chance; you just might like it.