Get Lomong and Chelimo on a track right now. This weekend’s Instagram beef between the two was the most exciting thing that has happened in this sport in a very long time and we need to capitalize on it immediately. I can’t wait until the trials to see this match-up. We, as fans of the sport, can’t afford to wait for that.
In case you weren’t paying attention, Paul Chelimo and Lopez Lomong reignited an online feud that dates back to last summer. The hilarious back and forth between the two included weird dog analogies, hashtags like #chihuahua and #lomongscared and even received input from names as big as Matt Centrowitz.
Part of what makes this sport so awesome is the great level of respect that the athletes have for each other. In general, distance runners respect their sport and they understand the incredible level of fight that goes into training and competing. However, rivalries and bad blood make sports fun. We do not have enough of that in our sport and as a result, we miss a major marketing opportunity. So, let’s make Lomong vs Chelimo a big deal. Let’s rally around this rivalry and do something to market our sport.
Waiting until they line up at the Trials would be a waste. There is already enough hype around that meet and this matchup would be just another storyline that gets watered down because it is surrounded by countless other intriguing stories. I want to see an event that immediately puts these two guys on a track. How amazing would it be if some company sponsored a head to head showdown? Let’s hype this like a fight; give me one of those goofy, shirtless pictures with the boxers holding their fists up to each other. Let’s make this a damn spectacle.
Maybe all of this beef is for show and these guys don’t actually resent each other, but I don’t care. I am going to operate under the belief that it’s 100% true animosity. That kind of naive perspective is part of what makes being a sports fan fun. That stuff happens in other sports all of the time, especially fighting. A huge majority of the smack talk and beef surrounding boxing and MMA is manufactured for our entertainment and that is fine by me. So let’s lean into this rivalry.
I am usually against putting content behind a paywall but this could work as a pay-per-view event. Everything in our sport is the same and incredibly uniform. Why not take this opportunity to do something a little different? Who would be against this? The sponsor would love the attention, the athletes would get a nice pay day and the running community would get an event to get excited about.
Unfortunately, I am afraid this opportunity is going to be missed. The buzz will fizzle out by the time the trials come around and we will miss the mark on generating big hype. Lomong vs. Chelimo at the Trials will be enjoyed by those who were going to watch anyway. By not getting innovative and creating something new though, we are losing a golden opportunity to attract new viewers. I am here for this showdown whenever and however it happens, but if it is okay with you, I am going to keep dreaming big for this sport.