I think getting "normal" people running, even if they are "fun" runners who might not have ever considered running before is still very important. If an adult takes up running - regardless of whether they win or not, back of the pack, middle of the pack whatever. Even if they are not "competitive" in the sense that they are going to win a spot in the top 3 they will still undoubtedly be competitive with themselves. Achieving a faster time, or a longer distance than before.
Who's to say that these people's interest in a sport won't encourage them to enroll their kids in running clubs? Who's to say their child won't become the next "elite" athlete just because they aren't.
I used to love watching Athletics when I was younger, but I never joined or started until last year. Believe me I wish I had but I didn't - maybe I never believed I could be good enough since they were heroes and I was just a mere mortal.
Yes my story may appeal to those who are overweight - but who's to say one of those overweight people may actually be a runner and never knew it? Or that their child might then go on to become a runner? Surely the more people you can get into the sport the more chance you are at finding that "Diamond in the rough"? My story may not inspire or "appeal" to an Elite athlete to go on a win a race, but maybe they will read it and actually be pleased that their sport is being represented across the board.
Yes I hope that my story will encourage people to lose weight and get fit - and continue running. But I also hope that by getting people out and enjoying the sport that this will in turn lead to other, younger runners (i.e. their children) becoming involved with the sport. Surely this is certainly promoting competitive sport? The more people you are reaching the more chance you are of finding your next big star? The bigger net you cast the more fish you are going to catch....and you may even catch a big one - but how do you know if you make the assumption that all people who have had weight issues or started running to aid weight loss will not ever become anything or do anything for the sport. At the end of the day, regardless of the reason Why they started running - they would not continue if they didn't enjoy it. I started running, I enjoyed it, I continued, I joined a club and the last 3 races I have run in I have placed 2nd and 3rd against club runners who have been running for years. This is not just a way of "maintaining" my weight anymore and while I may never be an Elite athlete, maybe my children will, maybe somebody else's child will.
Even Elite athletes have to start somewhere. No I'm not an Elite athlete, but what is wrong with that? What is so wrong with one of the more normal people being represented on the front of a magazine? Nobody would be having this conversation if it was an elite athlete on the front cover. Elite athletes feature on the front covers all the time and just this once for a change the every day recreational runner has been represented. Maybe I'll inspire people, maybe I won't. Maybe the next Elite front cover will inspire people - and maybe they won't. The problem is that whoever is represented there are going to people who are not interested. You cannot appeal to ALL people ALL of the time, that is just the way the world is. I may have only been running a year but I always felt a sense of togetherness and solidarity amongst fellow runners no matter what their abilities......now I'm starting to wonder if I was just being terribly naive.