Will Lance Armstrong's next race be a Christmas-inspired "fun run" in North Texas?
No. Probably not. Almost definitely not.
But that didn't stop the Allen Parks & Recreation Department from inviting him last week.
As Sarah Blaskovich of Pegasus News reported, with Armstrong banned from virtually all major cycling, running, and triathlon competitions in the wake of his August decision not to fight the United States Anti-Doping Agency's case against him, the city of Allen fired off a letter asking Armstrong if he'd like to "compete in the city's annual Rudolph Run on December 1."
"With yesterday's news that you are stepping down as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation and no longer will endorse Nike, you finally have some time on your hands for new challenges," the unsigned letter, which was nevertheless addressed to Armstrong c/o the foundation's Austin address, says. "As they say, when one door closes, another one opens."
The letter continued:
With this in mind,the City of Allen’s Parks and Recreation Department cordially invites you to compete in the City's annual Rudolph Run on December 1. We understand that you have been banned from both the New York City and Chicago marathons, but we would welcome your participation in either our 5K run or 1 mile fun run, with or without reindeer antlers. Now in its 18th year of existence, this family affair supports the Allen Independent School District -- certainly a cause worthy of embracing."
The City of Allen is firmly and adamantly anti-doping, but it should be noted that there will be no testing at Rudolph Run. After all, we are keenly aware that having one’s nose wired for electricity as Rudolph is alleged to have done is akin to unnatural performance enhancement. Who are we to judge the rigors of driving a sleigh around the world in one night and/or riding a bike 2,000 miles over grueling terrain during a 23 day time span?
The missive then closes with a series of goofy puns and references further comparing the disgraced athlete to Rudolph.
Allen ISD of course, is perhaps best known these days for its $60 million football stadium . And Armstrong, while a longtime Austin resident, is from nearby Plano.
But less than a day after Blaskovich's story was first published, the city issued an apology, conceding that the letter "may be considered to be in bad taste."
"This was not our intention," Allen's statement said. "We had hoped to bring additional exposure to our programs which the run supports. We extend our sincere apologies to anyone we may have offended."
It's not clear whether the city was worried about offending people who support Armstrong, or people who do not, and don't think doping is funny.
So consider this a choose-your-own-adventure Bum Steer: Did Allen blow it with the original letter or by not having the courage of its original satirical convictions?
In any case, if there's one thing that Lance Armstrong might do well to show right now—if not contrition—it's probably a sense of humor. We say he should show up for the thing!
Even better, do the fun run, which allows both dogs and strollers.
And definitely wear the antlers, along with a red glowing nose.
Below, the full text of Allen's letter, as posted by Pegasus News ' Blaskovich on Scribd:
Want to enter in the Rudolph Run yourself? You can fill out a registration form here (PDF).