When I first took up running I joined Blaydon Harriers, and the idea behind that was to compete. The whole idea of getting out for a run was to enable me to compete both against myself (the search for PB's) and other competitors.
I viewed racing as the emotional side of running, while the training, although still enjoyable, was a necessary evil. Providing the building blocks and practice to enable me to test myself in a race.
But was this wholly down to me or also in part the attitudes of the time? My starting to run coincided with the first running boom and the natural progression if you wanted to improve was to join an athletics / running club.
At the age of 24 I was a bit of a late starter compared to the more established members of Blaydon Harriers and apart from watching athletics on TV had no real knowledge or intent towards running. However, upon joining Blaydon I was befriended by people who had been immersed in running and racing and had grown up on the tales of; and modelled their own running , and strived to emulate legends such as Ron Hill, Jim Alder, David Bedford.....................
The accepted priorities in racing are your time, the distance and your competitors. However, times and attitudes change. I'm not saying that these attitudes no longer exist. There will always be a core of runners for whom running is racing.
However, despite media reports of greater participation in running events this nucleus seems to get smaller. The reasons for this are many. Such as the growth of the charity runner, running as a stress buster, running for fitness and so on. Again I'm not trying to say that these reasons are bad, but I do believe that they have had a significant affect on the depth and quality of races.