Friday, October 23, 2009

Marathon snobbery

As someone who has (1) run a marathon in extreme humidity on a course where the last 7 miles were uphill (Twin Cities: 4 hours 25 minutes), (2) run a second marathon on a flat course in perfect long distance running weather (Phoenix: 4 hours 10 minutes), and (3) walked a marathon with my wife on the hilliest course possible that ended with her in the emergency room after she battled through pain and tears just to finish (Bar Harbor: 7 hours, 3o minutes), I think that I have standing to comment on this New York Times article.

Every weekend during this fall marathon season, long after most runners have completed the 26.2-mile course — and very likely after many have showered, changed and headed for a meal — a group of stragglers crosses the finish
line.

Many of those slower runners, claiming that late is better than never, receive a finisher’s medal just like every other participant. Having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners.

And it’s driving some hard-core runners crazy.

And my comment is this: "Take the stick out of your butt and your nose out of the air, people." The faster runners never see the people behind them after the first 1/4 mile. Are you saying that it somehow degrades your accomplishment if someone doesn't finish by some arbitrary time that you consider worthy? If the City and the event organizers are willing to leave the roads open and to provide services until everyone who wants to finish gets to finish, why should you care?

And how many of you sub 4-hour marathoners can break 85 on a regulation golf course? If not, by your logic, I guess that you should be banned from even playing the game. I mean, when you shoot 100, it must make a mockery of an 80 that I shot 2 hours earlier. Why, I'm not sure; it just does.*

(*To be clear, I also don't object to organizers setting a time limit, just like I don't object to St. Andrews requiring proof of an 18 handicap or less to play golf there. But if an event or destination wants to market for the masses and you don't approve, don't go. Don't bitch that someone who you consider to be inferior somehow crashed your party.)