I do not think that Haile would get his own tape if he decided to ride in the Tour De France. In fact, I do not think they would even let him ride at all. Which goes to show that cycling beats running as far as public attention is concerned. This is good news and bad news. Good because it shows an endurance sport could be very popular. Bad for us because running is not there. What can we do to fix it? I've shared some thoughts on it in another thread, but more thoughts are welcome.
I think some of it is individual marketing. I, for one, couldn't name one cyclist besides Lance. And yeah, the Tour De France is pretty popular to watch here in America, but how much of that is because of Lance? And what other international cycling events are popular in the U.S.? None that I know of.
My point is that Lance has done a superb job in marketing himself. He has a great personal story, has set records, dates rock stars, and hangs out with actors. People in the U.S. eat that up. The only runner who comes close to that is Dean Karnazes, and then other runners bash him for selling out and not being a "purist". Of course, Dean is not even in the same galaxy of talent as Lance, nor does he date rock stars. But he is a marketing genius. If someone with Ryan Hall's talent had Dean Karnazes' marketing ability, and Lance's story and media flair, then perhaps running would then have an ambassador.
Most runners would rather just train and live their lives rather than becoming media darlings, but I think that's what it takes to become visible in our society. So we need someone who is:
1. Exceptionally fast (American record or world record quality)
4. Likes to be in the spotlight
5. Willing to sell out a little bit and take some flak from all the "purists" out there.
I only have 3 of those 5 qualities, so it's going to have to be someone else.