Once upon a time when running in the US was just starting to boom, they held races. By today's standards, they were odd little events. The participants numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands, and pacers were unheard-of.
That changed, first with Bannister's brilliant run to finally break the barrier of 4 minutes with the help of teammates Brashear and Caraway. From then, a steady evolution led to almost all major races having a pacer or a 'rabbit.'
In the opinion of many old-timers (who undoubtedly hate being called that), it's retarded the development of the sport, making it a boring affair of sit-and-kick. Gone from the racing world were the major breaks and tactical pace changes that forced the opposition to compensate.
This hit home last week as I watched the women's race at the Bulldog Invite, held at Big Cross in Pasco. For the second week in a row, I watched Emily Adams (Waitsburg-Prescott) hide for the first mile, before launching an attack and cracking open the front of the pack. The break she made at Pasco won the district race for her. Once she gained that lead, she never relinquished it. By the same token, she didn't increase it in the last mile.
Rather than sit-and-kick, Emily made a transition to a racer, broke the lead pack and dared them to match or catch her. Moves like that, reminiscent of the wild pace changes that Henry Reno used to utilized to break his competitors, make for exciting racing. The Asotin girls are going to need to learn to cover that break out to be close enough at the end to challenge Emily.
Now Chicago is breaking with modern tradition and telling the lead pack they're on their own. It's their race, to win, to lose, on the strength of their legs, lungs, and tactics.
We'll see who still remembers how to really race.