Last month, Arien O’Connell ran the fastest time but didn’t win in the Nike Women’s Marathon due to Nike unnecessarily starting a non-elite group of “elite” women 20 minutes early in the race. After a firestorm by runners throughout the country, Nike awarded her an equal prize as “a” winner. In my opinion, this is fair as it recognized her accomplishments while not taking anything away from the actual winner of the race.

Yesterday morning, however, O’Connell was in for a surprise. Reebok, one of Nike’s chief rivals in the shoe and apparel industry, surprised O’Connell at the elementary school she teaches at with an award ceremony to recognize her accomplishments.

Reebok awarded her a free pair of shoes every month for the next year, a $2500 donation to her school along with a t-shirt for all of the kids in her class, and a trophy inscribed “Winner and Heroine of Non-Elite Runners Everywhere.”

This is a great move by Reebok, and amuses me to no end. It is prolonging Nike’s embarrassment at poorly executed race management, and fosters a lot of good will amongst the running population. And I have to imagine that O’Connell is pretty happy at having won over $1000 worth of running shoes.

(Hat Tip: Shéamus – More Info: San Francisco Chronicle – Photo Credit: Reebok)