My first apology must go to Kristen SpiegelBerg of Wausau.
At least that’s how her name was spelled in the race results for the Jamison Kampmeyer Memorial 10K, held in my hometown of Colby on July 20. I suspect that the name should be Kristen Spiegel Berg, as it was listed in online phone directories when I tried to call her and personally say I’m sorry for what happened at the race. (I did not get in touch with her, however. The number I dialed was disconnected.)
It wasn’t my intention to compete in the Female 40 to 49 category of the race. I know, I know, you’ve heard all this before. Excuses when it comes to sports and cheating are wide ranging and imaginative. The test results were invalid because the sample handler stopped at his home on the way to the lab. The meat was tainted. My hormones are messed up because my twin died in the womb. I’ve never failed a drug test.
But the fact is, I’m not exactly sure how I cheated and was able to take third place, edging out Kristen for a trophy. (For the record, I do not have the trophy.) All I know is that my name showed up in the female results, much to the delight of my high school friend and sometime training partner Pete.
“Take a picture of that and send it to me,” he said, between guffaws. I was puzzled by the slip-up, but didn’t say anything to race officials because, well, because Pete said there was beer at his place. It wasn’t until later that I realized that my reputation as a clean (except for beer) competitor was on the line and that Kristen might be out an award that is rightfully hers.
A controversy like this sprung up on the international track scene in 2009 at the World Championships in Berlin, when South Africa’s Caster Semenya won the 800-meter race in record time. I was watching that race and was baffled by and suspicious of Semenya’s physique. Her muscles bulged like a body builder’s, which in turn led me to think about steroids. You know, because all body builders use steroids.
Instead, the international athletic community questioned her gender. She could not be a woman, the outcry said, and we, and poor Semenya, were subject to embarrassing headlines and stories that brought up the issue of hermaphroditism. It was an ugly debacle.
Semenya was cleared and went on to compete in the London Olympics.
I might have mistakenly ticked the “Female” box when I filled out my entry form. Or there was just some other mishap or clerical error along the way. I’d rather not go through a battery of gender tests, because I fear what might be found. I’ll just go back to being a guy, age 40-49, and forgo medals and trophies.
At any rate, I apologize again. But finishing third is pretty cool.
Keith Uhlig can be contacted at 715-845-0651 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter as @UhligK.