I came across an interesting read in the New York Times (published 10/22/09). It was an article titled “Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?” You can read the article in its entirety here, or I can give you the gist of it. The short of it is that a bunch of marathon runners are whining and complaining about walkers or run/walkers among them. They take offense to anyone taking the title “marathoner” who hasn’t truly run a marathon. I found the article interesting for a couple of reasons, 1) by their definition, I guess I will be a plodder on 11/15 when I walk/run the half marathon in San Antonio; and 2) I wasn’t sure why it mattered.
It’s pretty obvious if you run a 26.2 with a PR of 6:42 that there’s some walking involved. Do you have to call that person on it and make them feel bad for what should be considered an accomplishment regardless of their time? Only a jerk would do that (I’ll get to that shortly). It’s a big deal for anyone to take on the challenge of a marathon, or half marathon for that matter. I’m not talking about myself here, but for those who have decided to commit themselves to training and walking or running on a regular basis in preparation for their half or full marathon, why would you take that away from them? Many of the marathoners are arguing that it’s “disrespected the distance” and “ruined the marathon’s mystique.” WHAT??? Disrespected the distance for whom? A marathoner that’s coming in at 3 or 4 hours anyway? GET OVER YOURSELF, and stop worrying about the stragglers and plodders. If those individuals need the training and the races to get off the couch, exercise, or get their minds off an economy that’s zapping them emotionally and financially, then for God’s sake, shut your trap and give them that small satisfaction of having completed their marathon. And if they want to call themselves a marathoner, let them. What real harm is there??
As for a woman quoted in the article, I have to let you read what she said…
“Longtime marathoners like Julia Given, a 46-year-old marketing director from Charlottesville, Va., still find ways to differentiate the “serious runners” from those at the back of the pack. If you’re wearing a marathon T-shirt, that doesn’t mean much anymore,” Given said on the eve of this month’s Baltimore Marathon. “I always ask those people, ‘What was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more, I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it,’ ” said Given, who finished the Baltimore race in 4:05:52.”
This is a family blog so I won’t write what I think of this woman, but again, GET OVER YOURSELF, Julia. And try this one on for size, “Congratulations. It’s a great accomplishment.” You might actually make some friends along the way.
As for the the event organizers who have to contend with the decision of cutting off the marathons so as to not expend too many resources or money to pay for services or police officers, you have to do what’s right for your event. As long as you clearly indicate in all literature that there’s a cutoff, I think that’s fair game.