BY GREGOR IAN CHANCE
Chernobyl, Ukraine – ESPN has announced it will debut yet another ESPN channel- this one dedicated to the world of ultra-running. The channel will feature primarily the same old, rehashed panel-shows, where five or six guys just stand around, discussing what they think was going through the athlete’s mind, or what someone’s take is on a particular competitor’s performance. Like most of ESPN’s programming, there will be mostly filler, and little to no actual sport shown.
“In this case, it is because ultra-running is unbelievably boring,” says Tom Fulery, an executive producer at the network, “not only, you know, for the spectators, but also for the racers. Everyone just wants the darn thing to be over with.”
Ultra-running is growing in popularity for some strange reason, but until now no television network has been willing to touch it.
“Look, there’s not a lot of highlights in long-distance foot-racing,” explains Fulery. “Nobody stops to do a ridiculous dance after tackling a tough hill. Runners don’t dramatically point to where they’re gonna go, and then go there to the dismay of the crowd; there’re no awesome plays, no histrionic coaches, and no controversial calls! I think they’re giving me this gig as a punishment, to be honest with you. When they tell you those HR surveys are completely confidential… maybe still hold back a bit, if you know what I mean.”
The network plans to cover all the big ones, from the Stratovolcano to Stratovolcano 1000, to the Knees-Deep in the Pacific: Juneau to Baja, and everything in between.
“We think there are still highlights in there somewhere,” says the unfortunate producer. “We’ll get a lot of good snot-rockets, and runners sneaking into the bushes to take a whizz, and stopping to stretch out a hammy-cramp along the way. Maybe the odd puke-on-a-shirt. One thing we’ve learned: if you put it on tv, people’ll watch it. I mean, people watch cake-baking contests on tv. Ultra-running can’t be too much more boring than that, can it?”
In an effort to ensure television viewers can see more of the exact same formulaic programming elsewhere, FOX Sports has announced that it will be launching a competing 24-7 running channel. FS5k will feature wall-to-wall 5k rather than ultras, because – as one industry-insider puts it – “it’s faster, it’s funner, and puke-on-a-shirt just hasn’t tested well with television viewers.”
So which channel sounds cooler?
- ESPN-Ultra: 5-6 guys standing around in a studio; races like the Mojave Hundred: Darkness, Dysentary and Death, and the Australian Outback Out ‘n’ Back 550; highlights featuring misery and puke-on-a-shirt.
- FS5k: 6-7 guys standing around in a studio; races like the Red, White and You 4th of July 5k Color Run and the Smith Log-cabin and Museum Restoration Fundraiser 5k Fun Run; highlights not featuring misery and puke-on-a-shirt.
*Poll results will be kept completely confidential