Fastest Runner in the Park: Jerk or Misunderstood?

A McSweeney's classic on running etiquette sparked reactions from our readers on Facebook. Where do you stand?

Last Thursday, one of our team came across a “letter” on McSweeney’s, written to the “Fastest Jogger in the Park”— a runner who barrels through children and hurdles elderly in order not to slow down. The writing was fun, and we thought it might bring a smile, so we posted it on Facebook.


At the time, I noted that our readers were more likely to be the runner in the letter than the observer writing the letter. Turns out I was right. Readers responded to the post, some quite strongly. All felt that, though the writing did make them smile, they didn’t end up laughing. They wanted to tell the runners’ side of the story. Here are a few of the responses:

As I reflected on the original “letter,” I agreed with the responders that my overall reaction had been to roll my eyes at the writer. What galled me most was the writer’s assumptions of runners’ motives. True, runners can sometimes be self-centered and unaware of how they might be trampling on others. But the writer assumed that the runner was doing it to get attention.

Were I the runner in question (and I have no doubt been at times), I wouldn’t have been worried about how I looked or what people thought of me. What I want to say to the writer is, “Thank you, but we have no desire for your adulation or approval. We simply want you to stay out of the way on the running path.”

Where do you stand? Is the runner in the “letter” a jerk, as the author assumes, or just trying to get in a run? How would you handle the crowded park? How do you respond to reactions like his?

Join the conversation on Facebook by clicking the link “on Thursday” below: