My Kind of Sister Hero

There’s been a lot of talk of sister heroes recently, attributable in large part to Oiselle which uses the term frequently in print, on product and in interviews. Among the most commonly talked about “sister heroes” are Oiselle runners Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman and now Steph Bruce. All of these women have had exceptional running careers. All are also mothers, which lends to much of their mass appeal. And while all are interesting to me in their own right, they aren’t really my sister heroes.

Much of this comes out of watching the New York City Marathon on Sunday where yet again, the announcers totally missed the mark. Speaking off scripts and clearly undereducated about the sport (a shame, since a few of the announcers REALLY should have known better), the conversation focused on how tough a day Kara had or how disappointed Deena must be while entirely overlooking the two Americans who really showed their stuff: Desi Linden and Annie Bersagal. One announcer even went so far as to say that Bersagel “didn’t have her best day” despite her being 2nd American and battling horrendous winds for 26 miles. They didn’t bother to mention that Bersagal is unsponsored and legitimately works a full time job as a lawyer. They didn’t bother to mention how brilliantly Desi ran, tucked in the lead group and just quietly working away.

Bersagal and Lanni Marchant, another attorney-pro runner are my kind of heroes. It’s often frustrating for me to look at my training opportunities and race performances and wonder if it would be different if my life wasn’t centered on surviving medical school. Women like Bersagal and Marchant give me hope that it is possible to work full time and be successful at running as well. Yes, there are many concurrent sacrifices (such as zero social life) but one doesn’t have to live at altitude and live the pro lifestyle to be a top runner.

Who are your running heroes? Anyone else watch NYC this weekend?

10 thoughts on “My Kind of Sister Hero

  1. foxrunsfast

    I LOVED this post. I agree – Annie and Lanni give me hope that I can balance the rest of my life and commitments and still train hard and give it my all. I was so happy to see them both do well. I also have to applaud Desi – I was rooting for her the whole way. She ran a very smart race and she worked her tail off – and she seems to be very humble and modest as well! Kudos to all of them – it was inspiring to watch for sure! (P.S. – I also had a huge laugh at how Kipsang gave Desisa that look after he pushed past him. You just KNEW he was going to step on the gas and blow past him and sure enough, he flew by Desisa seconds later. Kipsang looked like ‘really, man?’)

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  2. Ryan

    Sunday was definitely not a great moment in sports broadcasting. If seemed more like they were announcing the Thanksgiving Day parade than calling a major event that for running is at least the equivalent of a baseball playoff game – which would never receive such casual treatment. I did not know Bersagel was unsponsored, that would have been a good talking point. What annoyed me most was around mile 12 when one of the guest analysts ripped the Portuguese woman who eventually finished 3rd by essentially saying she was running stupidly for spending so much time at the front of the pack. Seems like she had a pretty good idea of what she was doing. Then there were the technical issues…

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  3. misszippy1

    Completely with you on this. I get so frustrated by the press (and I throw in the running mags, too) for the huge fan girl base supporting Kara and Shalane. Yes, they are amazing athletes. But there are others and I hate how overshadowed these VERY deserving women are. Time to give credit where credit is due!

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  4. KrisLawrence

    Yep, you’re not the only one. I wish they had former marathoners as the announcers! Would have made things more accurate and entertaining. I don’t mind Kara and used to be a huge fan but her coverage (especially on twitter), in my opinion, over shadowed the women who were able to pull off a great day. Also, the mother card..as a mother it annoys me that the journalists pull that out for her every interview. She was only one of MANY elite mother runners that day.

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  5. Sully

    As a caveat, I didn’t watch the coverage, but—like so many Americans—I have an opinion.

    A live broadcast is bound to have issues. Good announcers try to weave a narrative from the race unfolding before them. Where something unexpected happens in the race, it is really easy to create a narrative of tragedy an woe or a how the mighty have fallen narrative. By contrast, it is much harder, especially if the announcer doesn’t know the emerging star’s back story, to come up with a triumphant newcomer narrative mid-race.

    With all of that in mind, anybody who is pulling down live tv broadcast money, should be able to piece together some insightful commentary or they should be able to read the insightful commentary their staff put together in a dramatic fashion.

    Jumping to another topic from the post, I too have a tremendous amount of admiration for runner who simultaneously compete at the highest level of their sport while pursuing a traditional career. As a young runner, I was enamored with the Prefontaine spirit of total and unwavering sacrifice to achieve the utmost in the sport. At that time, I couldn’t understand or appreciate Roger Bannister’s balancing act of his medical career and running achievements. It seemed to me that Bannister had given up so much. As I aged and developed priorities outside of running, I grew to appreciate the desire to pursue a high level of athletic performance as a secondary attribute of a live well lived.

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  6. Laurel

    I was definitely frustrated/confused? with the commentating for NYC. It was so strange that they were bashing on the top Americans when they still ran great in horrible horrible weather. It wasn’t a day for a PR, but a tactical type of race. Deena came in with a huge smile on her face and was pretty pleased, but they were saying she didn’t do so well and that she’d be disappointed. My sister hero this week is Tatyana McFadden. Falling out of her wheelchair and still winning the race is pretty incredible. She doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves.

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