Super excited to welcome New York City-based runner, writer, and coach Knox Robinson, along with Tracksmith co-founder and CEO, Matt Taylor, to the podcast. This episode was recorded a few days before the 2018 Boston Marathon at Tracksmith’s Trackhouse. We covered a wide range of topics in these two separate conversations, which I’m releasing as one episode, centered around the idea of running culture—what it is, how it’s evolving, and what the future of running looks like from a competitive and a cultural standpoint.
Robinson and I also talked about what he does as the leader of Black Roses NYC running collective, what he learned on a recent trip to Ethiopia and Kenya, where he spent time training with Mo Farah, Abdi Abdirahman, Eliud Kipchoge, and others, how he’s been able to run personal bests in his early 40s despite already having over 20 marathons under his belt, and a lot more.
“So there’s this guy named Wild West who can keep up with Kipchoge,” Robinson told me. “That’s all he knows. So they go out on this 40K run and leave the cars going. [Abel] Kirui steps off at a certain point, Geoffrey [Kamworor], who was training for his world half victory, he stops at 30K, and Wild West just keeps up with Kipchoge for 40K. This is the route Kipchoge ran a month before Monza and when we were in Kenya, with Wild West, he went a minute faster than he ran a year ago getting ready for Monza.”
Taylor and I discussed the impetus behind launching Tracksmith, how the brand continues to support the sport of running and its culture as both continue to evolve, what’s going on in the running space right now that’s exciting him personally, where he sees things heading in the next several years, and other related topics.
“I think a lot of people like Knox and myself and you are likeminded in the sense that the sport has been damaging itself for a very long time,” Taylor told me. “And I think that’s why some of these things are starting to pop up, and I think a lot of the attraction to them is coming from that. And Speed Project, what was really unique about it, and yes, I’m a traditionalist and I grew up in this sport and in its most traditional forms, but what was really unique about it is that at its heart it was a race from Point A to Point B. Our team battled with a team from France for 80 miles through the desert. We were trading off the lead probably 40 times in those 80 miles. And so yes, it wasn’t a normal track meet or road race but it was a race and I think that competitive spirit is something that is the glue that binds the sport we all relate to and I think that’s the thing that, you know, that doesn’t go away: people either want to be competitive or they don’t.”
We had some audio issues and background noise in this episode that John Isaac, my audio engineer, cleaned up as best he could. Given that, I’m releasing full text transcripts of both conversations, linked below.
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Related links, references, and resources:
— Follow Knox on Instagram.
— Follow Matt on Twitter.
— Here’s the full text transcript of my conversation with Knox Robinson, and here’s the one with Matt Taylor.
— Check out this interview I did with Knox back in January of 2017. “I’d like full-figured women of color to be seen as a runner, and I’d like to help push the understanding that Kenyans aren’t fetishized superhumans from the other side of the planet; they’re just like us: runners who have highs and lows like everybody else,” he explained to me. “So I feel like, if anything, I hope to mix it up, add some nuance and some storytelling and problematize people’s assumptions about what running culture looks and feels like — what it is and what it could be tomorrow, for all of us.”
This episode of the morning shakeout podcast was edited by John Isaac at BaresRecords.com.
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