In praise of the 'Sprint Face’

RW deputy editor Joe Mackie praises a powerful force within running, the sprint face.


by Joe Mackie
sprint face
JT's sprint face

Ah, the pain, the striving, the will to triumph is carved into JT’s features here. Looking upon this truly magnificent example of the Sprint Face you can almost feel the burning in his lungs and rebellion in his quads. Yet something is driving him ever faster to the finish line, and it’s a power that can’t be quantified in labs or taught in coaching manuals, it is the pure, elemental power of the Sprint Face.

Perhaps in a running world that has become crowded with lactate threshold data, precision heart rate monitoring and graduated compression we may overlook this more raw and immeasurable part of our sport. And that is our loss: progression runs and 200m repeats are all well and good for putting that finishing kick in your legs, but they can’t deliver the transcendent effect that comes from a fully formed Sprint Face.

There’s a brutal artistry here, too. To look upon a Sprint Face is to see a thing of savage beauty, a window into the suffering soul, and a portrait of the spirit’s triumph over the body’s limits. And what’s more, it is as individual as your fingerprint. Look again at our man JT here: I haven’t seen such extremes of gurning since I frequented the Hacienda nightclub in the early 90s. But in others the Sprint Face will manifest itself with more subtlety. Have you seen yours? Rest assured, you have one. It may have been lying dormant but it’s there, deep inside you. Next time you’re kicking for the line unleash its power. And please, please get someone to take a pic and share it with us at @runnersworlduk #sprintface. 


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