Marcus Mayes doesn’t talk about it much.
When he does, he says he started doing it because it was different. He wanted to try something new.
More than a semester later, Mayes’ little experiment is still going on, and people across the country are following it on the Internet.
Mayes, a long-sprinter for the MU track team, and teammate Ryan Hampton, who runs distance, are on display for the world. They are writing online journals.
These aren’t the kind of journals where people are complaining about their ex-boyfriend or posting pictures of last week’s get together. These are serious journals, and Mayes and Hampton are two of only 34 college athletes in the country who write them.
Trackshark.com, started by Tom Borish in Massachusetts, is one of the leading collegiate track Web sites in the country, and Borish has used athletes to boost his coverage of the sport by having them write journals that focus on their lives, and most importantly, their track experiences.
Mayes became interested in writing a journal the past couple of years after reading other athletes’ entries. He then got in contact with Borish and began writing in October.
Hampton didn’t begin his journal until January, but it had crossed his mind since he began visiting Trackshark.com about two years ago.
“I thought about doing it for a long time, and then after Marcus started doing his, I figured why not?” Hampton says. “I just kind of contacted them and told them I was interested, and they had no problem with it.”
According to Borish, about 100 athletes are contacted every year for journal consideration. He selects people by looking at their success in competition and their participation in the national meet.
He wants people who have a solid background and who he thinks that “people would be interested in hearing what they have to say.”
Mayes and Hampton easily pass the first criteria.
Hampton, a senior, is a three-time All-Big 12 selection and finished fourth in the mile run at last year’s Big 12 Indoor Championships.
Mayes, a sophomore, earned two All-Big 12 indoor honors last year and finished second outdoors in the 800 meter run at the USATF Junior National Championships. That earned him a place in the World Junior Championships last summer in Italy as part of Team USA.
Borish says he does not edit much of what athletes write. The entries have quite a bit of variation, and Borish likes the free expression.
Mayes includes details of his day away from the track such as hanging out with friends and going to class, while Hampton tries to keep his journal focused on his running.
“I don’t know how interested people would be in reading that kind of stuff about me,” Hampton says. “The big reason I did it is so people can see what I do running and maybe give people who don’t have a coach or don’t know what to do an idea of what I do.”
Examples from their journals show the difference in their styles.
In his Jan. 19 post, Mayes writes, “We went to grub str8 from practice. Plaza had this sizzlin’ salad thang goin on… so I hit that up. It was better than I thought it was gonna be so me being the person I am ... I got seconds.”
Hampton’s Jan. 17 post is more technical: “I feel really good about the training that I did this week. In years past, I have ran well in indoors, and then blown up in outdoors. This year I am going to do everything I can to avoid that happening again. The mileage is not going to come down for a long time.”
While there are no restrictions on what they can write, sometimes what they don’t write can get them in trouble.
“One time I didn’t go on a long run on the weekends,” Mayes says. “It wasn’t part of my day, so I didn’t put it in there, and (distance coach Wilmes) read it and saw I didn’t do it.
“He got on me a little bit.”
Mayes says he does his long runs now.
Jimmie Jones is also a long-sprinter for MU and is Mayes’ roommate. He says he found out about Mayes’ journal by reading it online.
“Actually, when I first found out I didn’t know because he didn’t tell nobody,” Jones says. “He’s really humble, so he didn’t say nothing.”
Jones says the publicity the team gets from the journals is a plus, and other people on the team try to do things to get included in the journals.
Hampton and Mayes says they get comments from teammates and athletes from other schools about their journals, but they maintain that the reason for doing it is not for the spotlight and that it is something they enjoy.
Borish says the three-year-old Web site has benefited greatly from the journals and that they are one of the most popular links on Trackshark.com.
He recalls an elite sprinter from Minnesota, Mitch Potter, who made fun of his girlfriend in his journal. Potter wrote about her falling down stairs while he was gone.
“That’s just one example of how I want people to get to know these special athletes,” Borish says.