By Martha Haynes
Runners love numbers. Perhaps even more than their similarly obsessed fellow travelers, baseball fans, runners love stats. They love distances and times, particularly one divided by the other. They love their own numbers and others’ numbers. They love to compare numbers in a single event, and across events, and across events across time.
I got involved with the Gulf Winds website not because I had any particular talent or ambition, but because I wanted to see my numbers. One thing I know, the thing that keeps me doing this, is that runners love numbers, even those of us whose names you’ll see only if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the race results.
There are a whole lot of numbers to be found at www.gulfwinds.org and every one of them tells someone’s story. They are stories of long hours of training or not enough training, pulled hamstrings and tendonitis, great efforts and not so great efforts, good weather and foul weather, days we’ll always remember and days we’d rather forget. They are stories of great competitions and maturing athletes and not-so-mature athletes and friendships and marriages and divorces. And, sometimes, they are the stories of friends’ passing.
It is not an overstatement to say that in the past three and a half years this job has changed my life. Saturday mornings may be when most of you put forth your best effort, but my day doesn’t begin until the scores appear in my “In” queue, if we’re lucky, around 4 p.m. The hours are sometimes long, but the pay is great. I get to work with the finest people in the world. I don’t think there’s any better way to get to know people than to work with them, except, perhaps, to run with them. I get to do both.
The website is a collaborative effort. You don’t have to read through too many stories to figure out that David Yon is its major contributor. But David is not alone, although he may be the most published of us, among runners who spend a lot of their hours on the road observing and turning those observations into stories. He is not alone among runners who know that the future of this sport is at high school track events. And he is certainly not alone among runners who want to see their numbers, and the numbers that are higher and lower than theirs, just as soon after an event as possible.
I couldn’t be prouder of the website turning 100,000 than if I had finally, miraculously, achieved the numbers that elude me in a 5 or 10K. I look back and think about the people I now consider friends that I once only read about in the race results. I look forward to meeting new people and finding new ways to post our numbers, to tell our stories.
On to 200,000.