Some people look badass in masks. Galen Rupp does not.
Rupp is the United States' best 10,000-meter runner. He also has a bit of an allergy problem. In races past, when the pollen count has been too high, he has worn a mask, which is supposed to filter out allergens. This is of course the workings of Alberto Salazar, famed Nike coach with a hair-trigger temper and a penchant for weird and shady technology.
Tonight, as Rupp lines up at the Prefontaine Classic "Distance Night" in Eugene, Oregon, to make an attempt at his own American record in the 10,000m, the grass pollen count will be reaching biblical proportions, with more than double the number required for the "Very High" category. There's almost a hundred percent chance we'll also see him in a mask.
What does it matter? Isn't a record a record and a win a win? Steve Prefontaine, the meet's namesake, never won an Olympic medal, but he lived in a trailer and raced like a sonofabitch. It was not what he did in running as much as how he did it. Rupp's mask is about as inspiring as a cat show, and equally as photogenic. It is a shot to the balls of hardcore running.
To quote Jason Lee's character in Almost Famous, "Is it that hard to make us look cool?"
[Photo: AP Images]