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The "honor line"

May 25, 2010 - Erik Brown
Although the following is a true story, it is told mostly tongue-in-cheek. In no way is it intended to trivialize or diminish the value of true sportsmanship and honor.
As the Brown family was driving home from the Family Services 10K / 5K Races and Walk on Sunday morning, my son decided to have a little fun, and asked “where would you say the honor line was for the 5K?” Without hesitation, I said that it was shortly after you crossed the bridge over the creek that runs along the edge of the PSU-Altoona campus, or about 15 yards from the finish line. “Oh, well!” he said with as much of a straight face as he could muster, “somebody passed me right there!”
 
Now, if you’re wondering what an “honor line” is, and especially where it is, let me explain.
 
You’ll never see an honor line marked on any race course and nobody that I know, outside of the Brown family circle, refers to it by that name. I myself wasn’t aware of the “existence” of the honor line until I named it, a few years ago – shortly after the Hollidaysburg YMCA’s annual Turkey Trot.
 
A minor injury had me sidelined that day, so I decided to enjoy the Turkey Trot as a spectator and family videographer.
 
As a certain runner, with whom shall we say… I am very well acquainted… approached the finish line, I was dutifully videotaping her every stride and she was enjoying the last few moments of another fun YMCA race. Then it happened. Just before she crossed the finish line, another runner sprinted by her, and finished just a few steps ahead.  
 
Truth be told, I saw the other runner coming up behind her. But with my poor vision, and watching through the lens of a camera, and on a day cold enough that everyone was pretty much covered from head to toe, I really couldn’t tell if the overtaking runner was male or female. I suppose I could have spoken up, but who wants hear me yelling “BEHIND YOU!” “SPRINT!!” while they’re watching a home movie?
 
At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
 
Later that day, I became aware that the last minute pass was, in fact, a bit of a sore spot. Over dinner, the family conversation turned into a spirited debate about the last few moments of the Turkey Trot. Although I had been occupied with the camera, the thought was that I should have made the passer’s presence known so that the passee could have mounted a timely counter-sprint. Then, in a brief moment of temporary irrational thought, the passee asserted that it really isn’t good sportsmanship to pass a fellow runner so close to the finish line. Well, I couldn’t let a statement like that go unchallenged, particularly coming from someone as competitive as um… this runner with whom I am so well acquainted. So, in a moment of poor judgment (I’ve had a few of those over the last 27 years), I declared: “So, there are actually three lines at every race… the starting line, the finish line, and somewhere in between them lies the “honor line”. And then I just had to throw in, “Thou shalt not pass beyond the honor line!”
 
Sometimes, winning an argument is exactly the same as losing one. Anyway, that’s how the mythical “honor line” came to be.
 
What do you think? Is there an honor line?? 
 
By the way, this was my first time participating in the Family Services 10K / 5K Races and walk. The folks at Family Services of Blair County really did a first rate job of putting on a great local race!
 
10K Overall Winners
 
A.J. Kelly – 34:17
Deanna Brown – 43:09
 
5K Overall Winners
 
Rob Crossman – 17:57
Marilyn Bearer – 21:19
 

Thanks for reading Against The Wind!

 
 
 

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