Going Long: An Interview with Knox Robinson

Mario Fraioli
Jan 24, 2017 · 19 min read
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Knox Robinson: ardent purveyor of running culture. Photo: Zach Hetrick (Courtesy of Knox Robinson)

My early impressions of the sport were that community vibe, that lifestyle, it was something you did with your friends. It wasn’t a perspective on training or sort of like, you know, loneliness of the long-distance runner. It was lifestyle, which I guess makes me prepared for the more cozy and comfortable lifestyle aspects of this current running boom. Elite runners and core runners might cry, but for me it’s pretty familiar.

But you did end up following what I would call a traditional route for a competitive runner. You ran collegiately at Wake Forest, and you’ve run pretty fast, mid-2:30 marathons and some other quick times. Given what you just told me, how has your relationship with running evolved since those early days in San Diego, through your more traditional competitive years in high school and college and maybe a little beyond, to what you’re doing now?

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Robinson on a one-day, 90K run through the Sonora desert in 2015. Photo: Daniel Klinckwort (Courtesy of Knox Robinson)

And so what’s awesome now about all of these crews is that there’s a spectrum: there are some that purely social, and some that are intensely performance-driven. The fact that they’re also kind of playing with the culture element or recognizing that you’re representing the city or the neighborhood or space or a cultural theme — beyond just running two races a year for just a club — that’s a cool cultural conversation.

Talk about your crew, Black Roses NYC. When did you start it, what was the impetus behind it, and where does it stand today?

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Robinson, right, rolling with his Black Roses teammates in the New York City Marathon. Photo: Zach Hetrick (Courtesy of Knox Robinson)

So the idea that we as runners have demonstrable cultural practices, not unlike the Yanomami have, is a super cool idea to me. We can elongate on that idea that we have this subculture and that’s cool.

You’re very much urban-focused in your approach to running and culture, but you have a home out in the woods and you like to get on the trails a little bit and do some exploring. You’ve got the #beentrail thing going on. Tell me a little bit about that and its significance.

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.

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“So the idea that we as runners have demonstrable cultural practices, not unlike the Yanomami have, is a super cool idea to me,” Robinson says. “We can elongate on that idea that we have this subculture and that’s cool.” Photo: Zach Hetrick (Courtesy of Knox Robinson)

the morning shakeout

running commentary and more from mario fraioli

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