Last week we introduced you to Emma Polley, a Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier who some LetsRun posters skewered for calling herself elite. We laughed this off as petty insecure trolling, but Emma’s story brings up a good question:
What is an elite runner?
We hear the term bandied about along with other gems like sub-elite, local elite, and, on the other side of the spectrum, hobby jogger. We have vague understandings of what these classes of runners are, but is there a formal cut-off between, say, elite and sub-elite? And how about between sub-elite and local elite or local elite and … everyone else?
I recently spoke with a runner who began a sentence, “When I became an elite …” She clearly knows where she stands and I know where I stand. All of LetsRun might laugh, but I’ve even been referred to as an elite runner before. While that was certainly flattering, I know, even when I was at my fittest, I’m most definitely not an elite runner. I won some local races way back when, so maybe I could be a local elite, but that’s the best I could possibly say for myself without feeling like a complete fraud.
Beyond where I personally stand, though, I really couldn’t tell you where the lines are between runner classes. So naturally, we want to hear from you!
Do we really need to separate runners into classes? If we do, well, why? And then what should those classes be? How should they be defined?
What the ____ is an elite runner?
Whether you are a back-of-the-packer, someone who considers herself an elite runner or somewhere in between we want to know what you think.