The art of killing

I saw it on the window of a mini-van first – Kills.
And then there were the hash marks.
I had no idea what those marks – or that term – referred to until I overheard another group of runners talking about how many kills they’d earned by passing slower runners. One of them actually pointed out another person as her “kill.”
I found it entertaining to watch the passion with which some groups tracked the number of competitors passed.
As we were all new to the sport, our group of runners discussed the practice of counting passed runners as kills. While some were offended by the practice and saw it as contrary to the camaraderie that usually accompanies the sport, others thought it was motivating and fun.
As I’ve never been much of a “killer,” I decided it was my gift to those faster than me to boost their self-esteem and let them pass me. I always try to say hello, although, earphones and super speed can kill a conversation faster than the lack of deodorant.
Most of those who passed me complimented me on doing a “good job.” This last weekend, one kind soul even offered to let me draft. Which, of course, made me laugh out loud as I thought you had to maintain some speed to do that. And while I appreciated this kindness and actually enjoy the interaction, again, some of my companions, also getting passed, found this condescending.
I heard some runners asking each other what the proper etiquette was – to smile or not to smile; to say hello or not; to encourage or not. While I love the interaction, even the trash talkers, others prefer to be killed in silence.
It seems there is no consensus.
I was talking to Ragnar Relay co-founder Dan Hill about this and we had a thought. What if those of us who find ourselves reduced to hash marks on a window, had our own little contest? What if we started keeping track of our suicides? I’m not sure I can count that high and still run, but it might be fun…

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