A really, really confused person is clamoring for a Letsrun competitor, or something
The Johnsons could be operating the worst site in existence, and a Chris Chavez-Erin Strout collaboration would still manage to lower the bar
Sometime around October 13, an angry soul started a Twitter account called LetsRunWatch. I learned of this today through a Letsrun.com message-board thread. The Twitter account includes a link to a subreddit, LetsRunSucks, that was created on Sept. 23 and is advertised as “A place where runners of all speeds, sizes, and ages can criticize the website www.LetsRun.com and toxic content on its main page and message boards.” (I was unaware that other sites are attempting to screen for personal bests, BMI, and other unknowables.)
You can scan the stuff this brave individual has assembled at your leisure, but the funniest part of the squawking has to be this:
Erin Strout is said to have quit Women’s Running in early November the wake of Jen Ator’s ousting as editor-in-chief (her own story is simply that she’s “becoming a freelancer” as of January 3), while Chris Chavez announced on December 23 that it was his last day at Sports Illustrated.
Put aside the question of exactly how the creation of a competitor site would hold anyone at Letsrun.com accountable for their actions, and never mind the fact that if those supposed actions were really terrible, anyone complaining about them wouldn’t have to do so anonymously. Does this person actually want a better site than Letsrun—that is, to establish a resource that actually adds value to the running community independent of its effects on other sites’ traffic—or does he or she merely want to wage war on Robert and Weldon Johnson no matter how feeble the weapons and how hilariously inept the recommended field generals are?
It will be hilarious if Strout and Chavez, with three working brain cells between them, do indeed decide to launch some kind of collaboration. I have been literally chronicling how bad these two are at every aspect of reporting. Unapologetically bad. And if “LetsRunWatch” is irritated with Jonathan Gault’s continued support of Shelby Houlihan (which I admit I think is a bad look), why isn’t he or she concerned that Strout and Chavez both visibly swallowed Houlihan’s burrito story one hundred percent?
Running is not a difficult sport to cover properly if you’re not a low-cognitive-wattage, self-interested kiss-ass, which both Chavez and Strout are. But worse than their inability to deliver anything other than bland chum on a good day and misinformation on a typical one is their brazen lack of accountability and their repeated demonstrations that their mistakes are usually the bad-faith kind.
Neither, to my knowledge, has ever publicly apologized for a single one of their many miscues or lies, however obvious and blatant. And they know they don’t have to—that’s how shitty the running and overall media are right now. (I won’t go hunting for examples, but I know that Letsrun has issued corrections to its own stories many times in its twenty-odd years of existence.)
People can complain about what they see on the Letsrun message boards all they want. I've done it myself, and am unlikely to ever participate in discussions there unless and until registration is required to even look at the boards. I understand why people wish to remain anonymous in those environments, but when a bunch of nameless people know who you are and you don’t know who any of them are, and they happen to dislike you, then every forum exchange quite logically goes to hell in a hurry in a flurry of ad hominems. And people do regularly use the place for exquisitely damaging purposes. Vast room does exist for improvement.
But ironically, those who do complain bitterly about those boards—especially on those boards—either ignore or dismiss the fact that the forum is only a small, and easily ignored, part of the website. And no amount of forum regulation would either be enough to satisfy the Wokish or put a dent in the tendency of people to be assholes when given the chance to pipe up under a handle like FuckaBooYou69 or whatever.
Letsrun reliably puts out the best and most current and comprehensive content out there. Maybe it's a low bar, but the two aforementioned idiots will not raise it. And if you have to root namelessly around in the swamps of Reddit and Twitter for support, maybe you don’t have the most coherent plan of attack or a legitimate reason for attacking anyway.
Anyway, if the Chavez-Strout thing happens, I intend to be their first and last podcast guest.
(Now back to anxiety over the nasty fire inspired by powerful winds that is doing real, measurable damage to people in the running community and started about two miles south of my house. [It’s not heading my way—a few people have already asked.] Several sections of the backyard fence were toppled (it was the neighbor’s turn to replace that rotting piece of shit anyway) and power has been spotty. All of this in advance of a winter storm. I love it when an already vicious year saves most of its destructive energy for the very end. Whoo!)