Because I am crazy, the first thing I did after seeing this thing last night – Woman Takes Selfies of Hot Men While Running Half-Marathon – was to enter her first and last name into the results page for the NYC Half to see her time. (That’s a lie. The FIRST thing I did was this
So, weird thing out of the way first: I couldn’t find a “Kelly Roberts” in the results; I couldn’t even find a female Roberts around her age who lives in New York. But, being a crazy, I looked at her Instagram and found her bib number, which belongs to a 31-year-old named Kristen Norena – so, did she give a fake name and age to GMA? That is so weird and also it seems unnecessary? ANYWAY. She was a little more than one minute faster than me. So, fine; I don’t even know what I was looking for — that’s another lie; I was absolutely anticipating her being much slower than me and was looking forward to some righteous smugness, which I now feel a little robbed of.
But the reason that Yahoo/GMA story annoyed and distracted me last night is this: Sunday’s NYC Half is the first race I have been in that was absolutely SWIMMING IN SELFIES. I was constantly having to dodge runners who stopped dead, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COURSE, to take a picture with their goddamn cellphone; sometimes it was even pairs or groups of people! THERE WAS EVEN A FELLOW WHO TOOK A SELFIE IN THE LAST EIGHT HUNDRED METERS OF THE RACE.
Look, I realize that NYC is a cool place and that for some people, running this half meant a trip to NYC. I get that! I’ve run races all over the world, most recently in Ireland, where I absolutely did take photos throughout the race. But here’s the thing: I PULLED OFF TO THE SIDE TO DO SO. I didn’t stop dead in my tracks in the middle of the race for other runners to trip over me! Even if you don’t stop (and it looks like this girl didn’t, and neither did the dude I saw at the end of the race) you’re distracted — add the selfie distraction to the earbud distraction and you’re in your own little oblivious tech-y world.
A story circled around last fall about the Hong Kong marathon, where a woman stopped to take a selfie just after the starting line and caused a “pile-up that resulted in battered and bruised participants,” according to a Time story from September. It looks like race officials considered banning cellphones at the race, but then considered that impractical, so they launched some sort of timid “awareness” campaign to encourage against taking selfies during the race. I can’t tell how that campaign went; there was another race in February but I haven’t seen anything written about it, and I can’t find anything about cellphones at all on the website.
But, OK. Whatever, take your selfies! Half marathons are a cool accomplishment; running one in a place like NYC is also cool, especially if you traveled a long way to get there, and I get that excitement and the impulse to share your achievement with your friends. But good god. Just, please don’t be a jerk about it, and consider the other people around you. (ALSO a fine lesson in regular life!)