Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let's Talk about The Boston Marathon

If you run marathons, half marathons, or know people that run them I am sure the topic of The Boston Marathon has come up in conversation before.  I first realized the prestige of the Boston Marathon when my brother qualified and ran it a few years in a row, a few years ago.  Since then, I have met many more people who have run Boston or are going to run Boston.

When I first started training for my first marathon, I told myself I could care less about Boston.  It was a lot of hype, blow out of proportion.  You can run a marathon almost don't have to pay just to run in Boston.  Then, flaunt your Boston Marathon clothes for the next week year(s) to come.  Not much after my first marathon I decided I wanted a goal.  I wanted a second marathon, and I needed something to aim for.  I decided that I wanted to BQ, which makes all of my previous comments a bit invalid.  I guess my perception changes rather quickly. 

In my running group, there are about 50 people who signed up to run the Boston Marathon.  Unfortunately, not all of them are going to be able to run it due to injury, but most are making the trek to the east coast in April for the historic event.  I want to be part of that.  I want to run those streets.  But, I want to deserve to be there.

I recently read an article about a person who is running the Boston Marathon as a charity runner.  I think charity runners are great - they raise money for a cause they care about.  It is a great fundraiser for the organization, and probably a great motivator to keep training for the participant.  Although I fully support charity runners, I do not think they should get to run the Boston Marathon.

About 1/5 of the runners that run Boston are charity runners.  That means that if you are at the start line, three people next to you qualified and one did not.  Four people earned their spot at the prestigious event while one did not.  It is like playing the game: which one does not belong?  The charity runner.

Most of the time the charity runners could never run Boston on their own, if they had to qualify.  I really feel like they don't belong at the race.  They could run a different race and raise money for their organization for that.  They don't belong with the (most often) serious Boston Marathoner who has worked hard to get there.  So if someone tells me they are running Boston and I don't know much about them as a runner or never seen them run, I always follow up with: "where did you qualify?" 

I have never known a charity runner for Boston, only real qualifiers.  Perhaps my opinion would change if I knew a charity runner.

Your turn: What is your thought on charity runners at Boston?


  1. I feel bad for agreeing with you. It's like my take on people that "walk" marathons. They don't deserve to be at that start line either. They didn't "earn" anything. I would love to one day BQ, it'll never happen but that's the only way I could ever deserve to run such a prestigious marathon.
    I agree with you.

  2. It's an interesting question. Personally, I would never do it, for all of the reasons that you listed. I view Boston as an accomplishment. That said, I'm not "against" the charity runner. I've enjoyed the Phedippidations podcast for years. Steve, the host, knows he will never be fast enough to qualify for Boston, but a. it's in his hometown and b. he's raised a lot of money for his charity.

    I do believe Boston has to be careful so that qualified runners don't get shut out of the race, but at the same time if anyone reads the history of Boston, they quickly realize that "qualifying" has meant many different things throughout the years. It has alternatively been much easier OR much harder than my marathon PR. The fact that they change the standards doesn't make me any faster or slower; it's just a reality of the BAA's situation at that given time. And sometimes it helps us change our goal. When I go to Boston this April, I'll be shooting to hit the "new" standard, which will be 2:30 faster than the time I ran to get there in the first place.

  3. I didnt know of the charity slots for Boston.

    I guess I will compare it to Kona, my version of Boston, we have a lottery system for atheltes who normally wont qualify for the race, I am for it, I guess because I know I will never be fast enough to qualify for Kona. These racers are usually called the midnight stories, which everyone agrees is the best part of the race, the last hour before the cutoff, its a party. But Boston must have a different atmosphere

  4. I have to agree with you. I think charity runners are great for any other event, but not the Boston Marathon. That should just be for people who qualify.