Each Wednesday at 8 (and available on-line afterward) NYRR is posting a show called “On The Run”. It hosted by my friend Karla Bruning. It could be so much more. It is so much less.
Sadly, Karla is the worst part of the exercise. It’s like seeing a movie and not realizing how bad it is until a real actor shows up for one scene and you’re left wishing she wouldn’t leave because of the flatness that remains when she’s gone. Karla’s that actor. Each show has an all-too-brief interview by her with someone knowledgeable. (It’s been NBC’s Joe Battaglia the last two weeks.) Both she and her guest know their stuff and she asks good questions. She uses the word “think” and I don’t think I’ve heard a “feel”. (The topics: the aura of the mile, whether the World Marathon Majors concept has worked, and whether pacers in marathons are good for the sport.) I understand that the segments are edited so only a portion appear on air. That’s the pity.
The balance of the program is a smörgåsbord of high-production-value, unrelated segments. Tonight’s was an abbreviated show, with only two segments, in addition to Karla’s interview. Topic 1: Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan are great friends. I hadn’t heard about that since early in the Olympic Marathon. How about that marathon experience? Who knows, the story was how close they’ve become as friends and how cute Flanagan’s cat is. The other segment: a girl from China living in the City in the sixth grade who runs.
Last week’s was worse. Segment 1: Meb. Same stuff we’ve heard a zillion times. Yet he appears with more logos on his outfit than Jeff Gordon and no question about his sponsorship issues, i.e., getting dumped by Nike and not getting enough appearance money from Boston. Segment 2: a homeless kid (Travis Moret) who’s fast and who gets a lot out of a program at school.
Then to a segment on a club. This could work. The club system is the heart of New York running. So will it be on old-line club, CPTC perhaps, or an upstart making waves, North Brooklyn? No, it’s the all women’s Athena. OK. I know someone who runs for them. It’s a start. But, no, this Athena is from Portland and not the Portland on the east coast but the one on the other side of the continent. The purpose of this segment is beyond me. Finally a little piece with Matt Tegenkamp and a trainer from the OTC on exercises. They did one in week 2. Fine. Except (as with the first one) there’s no context. Nothing about when to do it. Nothing to tie it into other stuff. Maybe a link?
OK, from that week 2, a few take-aways. First, I don’t have an issue with doing a piece on Meb. He’s been good to New York and New York’s been good to him. The OTC-exercise piece was fine. But the two in the middle? The club one was a joke.
The problem with the one on the kid was that it was just a segment that parachuted into the program. And this is why I’m going on on this. It was such an opportunity. Even though the piece had all the tired cliches, the kid was interesting. Why not have Karla talk to him and to those at NYRR or elsewhere involved in pre-high school running programs? It’s a very big deal with NYRR, but it just ignored it. No connection, no follow-up. And none on today’s episode.
NYRR has such an audience of folks yet it hasn’t figured out how to connect other than with banalities that strike me as the product of some media-consultant’s PowerPoint presentation. Someone suggested that it make an effort with its Facebook page to discourage or eliminate chit-chat so stuff of a more general interest gets a chance. The suggestion was rejected, for fear of alienating the chit-chatters. Other than the flurry for Baggagegate, such entries are few and far between. Lost opportunity.
Running out the expensive-looking, background-music dominated segments we see on “On The Run” is another lost opportunity. I may not be the targeted market, as I was not for NBC’s up-close-and-personal take on the Olympics. I made a suggestion or two to Karla that I think would make the show more (I use the term advisedly) interesting. Make it local. NYRR
[Disclosure: I have recently pitched a proposal to write a piece in NYRR's Runner magazine on the Rockies. I wrote a similar piece on the Old Croton Aqueduct some years ago, also based on WestchesterTrails.]