Archaeologists in Spain have stumbled upon a never-before-seen series of cave paintings that, they say, portray the first known instance of runners mocking a jogger. The paintings are thought to be 20,000 years old.
The find, in the Cave of El Castillo, near Spain’s northern coast, sent shockwaves through the running community. Experts say it proves that the schism between joggers and runners goes much deeper than previously thought.
“We were stunned,” said George Jefferson, a professor of running history at Sherman Hemsley College and leader of the team that made the discovery. “Until now, we’d assumed this sort of mockery and denigration began much more recently—say, just in the past century or two.”
“These paintings shatter those assumptions.”
The artwork, made primarily with red ochre, depicts a central figure looking slightly ashamed. Jefferson identified this figure as a prehistoric jogger. He appears to be holding a primitive version of a foam roller.
A man to the left of the jogger stands with one hand on his hip, the other upraised, in a condescending “Could you be any slower?” way.
Another figure, to the right, is beckoning others, as if to say, “Hey! Guys! Get a load of the jogger!”
A figure to the far left, Jefferson said, appears to be tired of the whole thing. He seems ready to shoot the others with a bow and arrow, ending the “runners vs. joggers” debate once and for all.
Jefferson said his team was eager to explore the rest of the cave complex, hoping to find early evidence of runners advocating the paleo diet.