Thursday, June 03, 2010

馬拉松賽跑: 種族優劣論 / Marathon Races, For Better or Worse

When I was growing up, my Mom used to encourage me to play basketball because she believed the sport would make me grow tall and strong, just like the black Global Trotters I supposed. Now, she might be unclear on the concept of cause-and-effect, Logic tells me that height is the causation rather than the result of playing professional basketball (and becoming a millionaire is definitely the result of being a NBA professional for Yao Ming, but that's another story for another day).

So, if my logic is right and my Mom was wrong, then how do I explain the winning of the Japanese runner in the Ottawa Marathon on May 30, 2010. For the last 30 years or so, North Americans have pretty well accepted the domination of runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, and other African countries in the elite class, to the extent that race organizers have created a separate top Canadian or US finishers category. The racial line in the racing field is so entrenched that most ppl in Ottawa had automatically assumed that the male winner would be African. Until Arata Fujiwara of Japan came along, beat the Africans, smashed the Ottawa Marathon record, and proved everyone wrong.

So, maybe my Mom has been right all along, that physical attributes are not the only prerequisites to excellence, that you can still be a good performer by putting efforts into it. The Japanese runner is a good inspiring example.

For the record:

Arata Fujiwara, Japan 2:09:33 (Ottawa marathon record)
Laban Moiben, Kenya 2:09:43
Bazu Worku, Ethiopia 2:09:53
(other top 10 runners are all from Kenya or Ethiopia)

Merima Mohammed, Ethiopia 2:28:19
Radiya Adlo, Ethiopia 2:35:04
Samira Raif, Morocco 2:36:46
(4th runner from Ethiopia, remaining top 10 are from Russia, NZ and Canada)

* Race results from Ottawa Sun May 31, 2010

攝影图片 Photo Credit:
* Top: Ottawa Citizen May 31, 2010
* Bottom: Brett Larner, Japan Running News (see below)

Related articles:
* "Japan Running News" May 30, 2010 blog article entitled "Arata Fujiwara Sets Ottawa Marathon Course Record" by Brett Larner


C.M. said...

Almost nothing can me make happier than outdating an old assumption! Thanks.

galaxy said...

速度或力量的運動需要有爆炸力的muscle, 耐力的運動需要有韌力的muscle。 所以短跑的人是大大隻, 長跑高手很slim。 比起速度或力量的運動, 所以亞洲人在耐力比賽中取勝的機會會容易些。

Kempton said...

Real cool for the Japanese runner to win in a record breaking time.

Of course, anytime there is record breaking results, the question of whether the runner ran clean enters my mind.

Haricot 微豆 said...


Pleased to hear from you !!

Yes, old assumptions make ppl feel safe, but they might discourage innovative ideas to come forward and break new grounds.

Haricot 微豆 said...


I agree with you that a long distance runner might not need a powerful upper body to help give him/her that explosive sprint from start to finish. Indeed, carrying too much body weight over 42.2 km will only slow down a runner.

To beat the other elite runners who were equally slim and had longer legs (and therefore longer strides), the shorter Mr. Fujiwara must have an amazingly fast turn-over.

Haricot 微豆 said...


I assume there are safe guards for that kinds of issues.

Mind you, the local Ottawa record is still far away from the world record.

新鮮人 said...


Haricot 微豆 said...


There is a theory that says most Africans start walking/running everywhere when they are little because there is no public transportation. However, there is no scientific data to support such theory.

I believe success often depends on a combination of nature and nurture.

exile said...

Kenya’s Richard Limo won the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon today. Another African winner!

Haricot 微豆 said...

Exile: No doubt the trend will continue, as it has been the case for decades. However, records are there to be broken !!!

新鮮人 said...



Haricot 微豆 said...


>> ... 就如男女平等不等於男女氣力要一樣,

Yes, I have to concede that the fastest female marathoner has always been slower than her male counterpart in all world-class races.

啤酒花™_J said...

Haricot 微豆,
Just to share with u


啤酒花™_J said...

another one: -

Haricot 微豆 said...


Thanks for the three references. Here are my thoughts ....

Let's face it, most of us grew up in cities and did not run bare feet all over the mountains. I did try to run in low tech running socks and shoes and ended up with all kinds of problems. So, guess what? I switched to double-layered, blister-free, specialty socks; and those pronation -controlled, stability-enhanced, cushioned running shoes that cost an-arm-and-a-leg. The fact of the matter is: They have helped me (or I have grown to depend on them). My relationship with the exercise industry is a symbiotic one - they need my money and I need their products. It's too late for me to go naked, or should I say au naturel !!!!

Haricot 微豆 said...

Again, thanks for the info :)

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