The Classifications of Runners

November 30, 2008
By Ryan Stikeleather, Glendale, AZ

Runners are a fascinating group of Turtles, Rabbits, Eeyores, Gumps, and Freaks. Although most people do not involve themselves in the running community, those of us that are dedicated to waking up at five o’ clock in the morning to go push our personal limits see other runners in a different light. The goal of this essay is to help you see that runner on the side of the road in a different light. Writing about runners is not only fun, but hopefully you the reader will have some fun too learning about Turtles, Rabbits, Eeyores, Gumps, and Freaks.

Runners can be classified into five groups; the percentage of each group varies from area to area. The first group is the Turtles. Turtles can be found just about anywhere, but yet they are rare compared to the other groups. Turtles are, as the name implies slow, but they are steady. In some cases, turtles can be so slow that it seems impossible to try and run that slow and succeed. These runners accomplish their workouts with their traditional no rush attitude. Turtles are revered for their perseverance and strong will to keep going to the finish. They also have a special ability; they can have fun even though they aren’t as fast as they would want to be. Perhaps there is a wisdom in the Turtles approach that all of us should look to find some day.

The next group of runner is the Eeyore. The term Eeyore is derived from the famous “Winnie the Pooh” character. In this children’s story the Donkey named Eeyore is always sad and complaining. A runner who always complains about being tired, or their shins hurting, or it’s too cold, is known as the Eeyore. Eeyores act like children about running. For some reason they do not understand that running is not easy. They also do not understand that sometimes conditions are not ideal, but everyone else deals with it and so should they. The torture of being around them does not stop with complaining, it continues on to excuses of why they can’t, or why they didn’t do their best. Along with the complaints and excuses comes the inability to finish workouts, which in turn makes them slower. For an Eeyore everyday is a rainy day.

The above average distance runner is known as a Gump. Gump is a term derived from the name Forrest Gump. In the movie “Forrest Gump”, Forrest runs everywhere. He runs down the dirt road, across the country, down the football field, to home, from home, away from bullies, into battle, out of battle, and back home. He just keeps running, and He keeps running very fast the whole time. Gumps are runners who can keep running very fast, and very steadily. Gumps have a strong spirit; they never give up until the job is done. They also never complain, Gumps love to run and it’s what they do best. When it’s needed in a race, Gumps can kick; a kick is a final sprint to the finish where races can be won or lost. Gumps are the kind of runners you want on your team.

On every team, for cross country or track, one Rabbit is always found. The Rabbit usually on the track team is someone who is a fast sprinter, and is typically impatient. They love to get done with workouts as soon as possible, so they tend to rush. Rushing often causes injury and sometimes prevents Rabbits from achieving their goals. The Rabbit is usually someone who is loud and makes themselves heard. In a distance race the Rabbit is a person, usually out in front, that is reachable and can be beaten in a race. This is the runner everyone likes to chase, and then keep up with. The Rabbit is always ready to run once the practice begins, but after that it’s difficult to try and get them to run. Rabbits are common, and more just keep popping up, like their real life counter part.

There is a small minority of absolute, uncontested Freaks. Freaks are runners who run at ridiculous, inconceivable, break neck speeds. On some level they seem genetically superior, like they were mutants fresh out of “X-Men”. Freaks also invoke the question of, “How did they do that?” in others. Almost to add insult to injury, Freaks make it look easy, even though they are running at impossible speeds for the ordinary human being. Freaks are dominant in anything they do, if you plan to race a Freak, plan to lose. The only explanation for any person being able to complete six miles at a five minute forty-five second a mile pace, and to be able to compete like Prefontaine or Usain Bolt, is that they are a Freak.

Each different kind of runner has their own unique definition of how they perceive themselves. The next question is what do they each have in common? The answer is that they are all dedicated to running. Every runner is different, and perhaps understanding how they are different is helpful. All runners run and that is what bonds them together. Within a cross country or track team, a family is built from the people you run with, and perhaps a greater family is built globally. Simply put, the runners you run with can be like your brothers and sisters. The runners that run around you are like your cousins. The runners across the state are like distant cousins or aunts and uncles. This pattern carries on to your “cousins” twice removed, and such. No matter where you run, or who you run with, or what kind of runner you are, you are a part of a family. No matter how unique a runner you are or how simple a runner you are, you now have a definition special to you. Now, no matter what, Turtles, Rabbits, Eeyores, Gumps, and Freaks can now be classified, as a family.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Aug. 24 2009 at 4:46 pm
Joegirl2418 GOLD, Columbus, Ohio
16 articles 0 photos 15 comments
this was great! good job.

carmichaelg said...
on Jan. 3 2009 at 8:12 pm
I like the way the paragraphs are put together and the creative way in which the groups are described!


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