A fellow member of several Spokane running clubs told me recently that distance running has a unique camaraderie compared to other sports.
Rich Goggin ran track years ago as a high school student, but he also played football well enough to be courted by college football coaches.
He says there isn’t the level of camaraderie among football players like there is among distance runners.
I never played high school football, so I can’t confirm this, but I feel distance runners do have a unique camaraderie. Maybe it’s just the nature of running to feel a comradeship with other runners. Also, perhaps since distance running is less popular and visible compared to the major sports, coaches have less pressure to produce. Could be this lower intensity, combined with the downtime at practices and meets, allows quirkiness and off-beat humor to be expressed more easily.
Though I could give a bunch of examples of camaraderie-building goofiness, I’ll detail just one.
In high school, the track and field distance team was on a run, and we came across a pack of cigarettes laying in the street. I suggested we pick them up and smoke them in the locker room, because I thought it’d be so funny if coach discovered the distance runners had taken up smoking.
The rest of the track team had finished their workouts and gone home. We knew coach had a meeting and would come back later to lock up, so we lit up and filled the locker room with a thick haze of blue smoke. We dropped the butts on the floor, grinded them out and left them there.
Our coach had a sense of humor, and we had a great rapport with him. However, he didn’t say anything to us the next day. It had me thinking it was such a minor thing, he’d already forgotten about it, so I inquired what he thought about the distance runners’ new habit.
Of course, he didn’t believe we’d taken up smoking, but he complained about having to clean up the locker room.