The top American woman finisher at the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is getting a mix of kudos and flak on social media for running last Monday’s Boston Marathon knowing she had a stress reaction in her femur. Her femur fractured during the race, and Sarah Crouch of Blowing Rock, N.C. finished in 60th position, with a disappointing time of 2:48:05.
Crouch was hoping a strong finish in Boston would earn her a spot at the Olympic trials in Atlanta, Georgia in February 2020, and some speculate she took a calculated risk in order to bag the spot now rather than wait until the fall, when the pressure would be greater. However, having now sustained a fracture, it’s very unlikely she’ll be able to recover and resume training in time for a fast fall marathon.
Fellow American runner Stephanie Bruce, who most recently raced the World Cross Country Championships in Denmark, responded to a tweet extolling Crouch’s toughness with a comment about both the wisdom of her decision health-wise and the example it sets for young athletes.
I feel for Sarah but I would be cautious describing starting a marathon knowing you have a stress reaction as tough. It’s a tricky message to display publicly. And risks your long term longevity. https://t.co/6E3WoUMsxl
— Stephanie Bruce (@Steph_Rothstein) April 18, 2019
A young woman posting as HappyRunningCo said, “This looks bad for her and her coaching team,” a comment that itself elicited some support and some criticism. In response to the criticism that such comments constituted “backseat driving,” the poster responded, “Coming off a big training cycle would help the recovery process of a stress reaction vs now a fracture. Her goal was to get an OQT [Olympic Trials Qualifier] (2:29:30), you’re not getting that unless you’re healthy. It would have been best to recover and go for it in the fall.”
Judging by her original post, Crouch seems to feel it was worth it to push through in the hope that her leg would hold up, and says “Obviously guys, do as I say, not as I do” (an expression that is usually cited as emblematic of parental hypocrisy).
Crouch later posted in response to criticism of her decision that “some of the same folks who were praising my gutsy move to race Chicago less than two weeks after quad surgery are criticizing my rationality now because this one didn’t pan out. ” (Crouch finished Chicago in sixth place as top American, with a time of 2:32:37.)
Crouch’s coach, Steve Magness (co-author of The Passion Paradox), responded to a poster on LetsRun.com (who contacted him by direct message): “I’m proud of Sarah going for it. We had a discussion beforehand and weighed the risks and benefits. In the end, it’s her career and I’m here to support her. I stand by her decision 100 per cent, and will take whatever blame anyone wants to assign to me for not holding her back. She’s one of the toughest runners I know and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with her.”