Friday, July 25, 2014


I would like to ask you to consider why you like racing, either as a passive spectator (eg horse racing),or as an active participant racing in the field. 

For the spectators, would you continue to tune if you were prevented from knowing who won? Let's say you're watching the Kentucky Derby on your big screen at home. The horses are galloping around Churchill Downs, and suddenly --  inexplicably -- the network switches to the Blimp view several thousands of feet away for the final stretch call. Would you feel slighted? Would you tune in again if that's how it's always done?

I wouldn't.

For the active participants, would you train for several months (and pay good money) to enter a competition where nobody would be declared the winner at the finish line?

Again, I wouldn't.

The dictionary defines a race as a competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc.., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.

We are fascinated by racing because we want to see who is the fastest in covering a set course.

If I'm in the race but am not capable of being the fastest on that particular day, then I'll strive for a PR, or being faster than someone else in my class/category. Either way, winning the race does matter.

Racing is an honorable pursuit. To be an active participant in the race is something special. To vie for the victory, all the more so.

So I say, hail to the victors, and let us fĂȘte our champions for their achievements.

Otherwise, what's the purpose of racing?

Please don't say it's to receive a participation medal.

YPG. Thanks for reading.


  1. What's the purpose of racing?

    Like all things related to motivation, it varies with the individual. In considering possible answers, one psychological construct to consider is extrinsic vs intrinsic motivation.

    For the extrinsically motivated racer, public recognition, prizes, and comparing oneself to others is important. In contrast, the intrinsically, or internally, motivated racers have set themselves some kind of personal challenge, which may be finishing, or perhaps simply doing all the things it takes to prepare properly and execute a plan with minimal errors.

    A race in which no one is declared "the winner" is still a race - consider the bike path trail racers, for example. So...I would wager that in whichever race that prompted your post, that those who cared about who crossed the line first, know who did, but their responses to the lack of recognition for it differ according to their own motivations for participating.

    Personally, recognizing participation and finishing and not just feting the "winners" is an issue on which I've pivoted. I used to not think it was not that important, taking a much stronger stance more aligned with your position, but after riding and talking with a great many more athletes with a much greater degree of variance in terms of ability and purposes, I've changed my mind, and have come to believe that this is the key thing that makes triathlons so popular. In short, tri's meet the motivational orientations for so many more people than does bike racing.

    Alright, off to try my hand at junior mechanic-ing. There is a steering rack to be installed on a little red car. (I'm primarily motivated by learning new stuff, for example.)

  2. I do agree with you that triathlons are popular because they offer many motivational orientations for people of varying abilities. Yet, I still contend that many (if not most) who participate in these events are also interested in racing well, and do appreciate knowing that a race that they are also involved in is being contested at that same moment.

    Racing offers a stamp of legitimacy for all. It validates the event for which everyone has trained. Without that level of legitimacy, I seriously doubt many would pay the expensive entry fees, and spend hundreds of hours preparing for a non-competitive event.