A Weekend of Sporting Achievement → FIND ←

Sunday, 10 April 2011 11:00 pm
tags: brighton fitness sport

It was weekend of achievement in the world of sport, on rather opposite ends of the spectrum, with the coveted Grand National on the Saturday and the Brighton Marathon following the day after. It was a weekend of firsts for me too, having made my first bet on a horse and spectating my first marathon. One of the events, however, left a rather bitter taste in my mouth.

I've never been at all bothered by the Grand National, I knew of it, but that was about as involved as I've got previously. On a whim, I thought it'd be fun to put a small token bet on one of the horses. It was, however. both my first and last bet on horse racing. Naively, I've managed to avoid the truth about horse racing for most of my life, but I was appalled when I read into what the media does not tell you.

The Grand National is a race that covers over 4 miles of track in total and is usually completed in around 9 minutes. The horses that take part, despite being in the peak of physical fitness, are forced to perform way beyond their natural capacity and are whipped repeatedly to encourage them to reach their target. As many as 5 horses are known to have died either during or in the run up to the race last year, with many more barely being reported. Two horses died during Saturday's race at the weekend. As a strong believer in protecting the rights of animals, this shocked and appalled me. These animals died whilst being forced to perform to inexplicable and unnatural feats of stamina and agility and all in the name of sport. It saddens me that greed has taken over people's perceptions of right and wrong, especially when considering the welfare of helpless animals.

In stark contrast, I was in absolute awe and amazement at the ability of every single competitor in the Brighton marathon on Sunday. The marathon is a 26-mile test of endurance and demonstrates the power and determination of the human body and mind to overcome such a challenge. I've got into running over the past 6 months and although I am nowhere near good enough to compete in a marathon any time soon, I am majorly excited about the prospect of competing next year. The sense of achievement of training for months and running over the finish line after 4-5 hours of continuous running must be staggering.

The juxtaposition between these events is all too clear. Horses are beautiful and loyal creatures, but when mixed with the capacity humans have towards greed, it has been turned into a barbaric sport. Conversely, the marathon is an immense personal challenge, no one is forced against their will to compete, and all money raised goes to good causes. There is just no comparison in terms of true sporting achievement.