Posts Tagged ‘Dylan’

Let them Run! Marathons for All

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The New York Times has been running a series of articles on marathon running in build up to the NYC Marathon this weekend. One article about slow marathon runners caught my eye. The article debated what place individuals who run slowly have in the marathon. The article cited studies showing how since the 1980s the average marathon time has drastically increased. To find out more about the article click here: Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon? One of the reasons why this article interested me is I have been at both ends of the spectrum. I have run marathons both fast and slow. I have clocked in at Three hours and ten minutes and I have also clocked in at six plus hours (I forgot that you had to train for a marathon!). I can personally say that whether I run a marathon fast or slow it is still hard.

Covering 26.2 miles whether you are running or walking is still a great accomplishment! Everyone feels pain, no matter what the speed, at some point during the marathon. However, I still feel that there should be some time limits. Having no limits creates situations in which people feel they can stop for extended periods of time and in some cases stop for lunch or other such extended breaks. Clearly, stopping for lunch is not the spirit of the marathon. The marathon is not a stage race. There is nothing wrong with the occasional pit stop as long as they don’t turn into mini vacations. Always keep moving that is my motto!

Individuals who attack “slow” runners are doing more to damage the sport than to promote it. Marathons maintain sponsorships because of the mass appeal created by the diverse level of participants. Sponsorship is what allows these races to exist and thrive. Many races have now adapted corral systems that allow the faster runners to be upfront and not “hindered” by the slower runners who interfere with time goals. This eliminates the complaint that slower runners get in the way. Of course one reason why some so-called hardcore runners disapprove of slow runners is they feel that the image of the marathon is tarnished because Joe Public now runs marathons. The ego of these individuals has been deflated; no longer is the marathon T-shirt the ego trip it once was. Of course these individuals could run the Boston Marathon (a race with a qualifying standard) or even better yet they could run in the Olympic trials!

The culture of the marathon has changed. No longer is it composed of a small group of gifted athletes strutting their stuff. It is a mainstream event that has broad appeal. The marathon is an event that raises millions of dollars for charity and inspires people to get off the couch and go outside and run. In an era of increasing waistlines and an epidemic of obesity how can this be a bad thing. In the process a few egos may get damaged but as Bob Dylan stated “Your old road is Rapidly aging Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin” (The TImes They Are A-Changin’, 1964)

Justin Mayer, Executive Director-ISPA