Run for the money
In "Run for the Money," Robert Preer discusses the growing alliance between charity fundraising and road racing, and the resulting backlash among elite runnrs. Have charity runners undermined the competitiveness of the sport? Or have they helped democratize it while raising money for worthy causes?
I sincerely hope this is a joke! How on earth could a charity runner undermine competitiveness in a sport? While many people running the marathon are in great shape and are very competitive, few can compete with the so called "elite" runners that win year after year. If a runner considers competition "shaving a few seconds off your best", how does a slower runner raising money for charity inhibit that? The idea that people should "just give their $20 and not run" is completely ludacris. One of the major points of running the marathon for a charity is to raise public consciousness as well as money! To see a cancer survivor running a marathon is much more inspirational than getting a brochure in the mail. In a society where more and more people are overweight, we should be encouraging people to become active. Maybe someone seeing those slower athletes will be encouraged to give it a try themselves.
Heather, Malden, MA
I think Charity Runners should stick to Charity Events. Leave races like the Boston marathon to those who are simply competing, be it to competing to win or competing against their own personal goals. There are plenty of Charity Runs and Walks out there where Charity Runners can receive their due for what they're attempting. Please don't clog up competitive events.
The author should have noted that the runners entered on behalf of charitable organizations start at the rear for tomorrow's marathon having no impact on the competitive performers. I also believe that attendance at the Boston Marathon would decline significantly without this local component to the race, especially now that the top performers are mostly foreign born (as compared to the days of Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Patti Dillon and Joan Benoit).
Ben , Boston, MA
I've run Boston 5 times, other marathons 5 times. I'm 210 lbs, 40 yrs old, so the only way I've received an official # was through the lottery in 1996. My dream back in 86 when I worked for New Balance and was running 60 miles a week was to qualify for Boston. I ran the Boston Peace Marathon in 3:25 and figured cutting 15 mins off my time was pretty unlikely? Boston Marathon has a lot of tradition and qualifying is tough and a feat in itself, but there isn't much hope for locals like myself to qualify unless you raise $ for a charity? I haven't done one for charity, but it's unfortunate that my tax dollars are supporting a race that I can only enter as a bandit? These charity runners aren't effecting any competitive times since they are seeded at the end of the numbers so I think if it's for a good cause, we need more people donating their time for charity to make this world a more loving community:)
Danie , Tewksbury, MA
The article is right on. Charity running has undermined the fundamentals of distance running. Is it necessary for everything to be for a cause? Sure its great to raise money for charity, but does it have to be an the expense of runners who train to compete?
I think charity runners should stick to charity events. It's pointless for them to run anyway. People should just give them the money and tell them not to run. What's the point of them running? To "raise awareness"? I don't think anyone needs someone to run a race to realize that cancer, hunger, etc., are problems in the world. It's still not as bad as the Red Sox though - charging ordinary Joe fans hundreds of dollars to take their families to the game to see millionaire athletes play, and then demanding Jimmy Fund donations on top of that!
Frank, Boston, MA
Wow, I cannot believe a way to raise money for charity is being questioned. Who thinks this is a problem? Perhaps cold minded people who have never had a tragedy happen to them? I hope the charity runners do "clog" your race. Are you really somebody who we will ever hear about after the race is over? Will they do a news special about your running time? Will they be in awe about how you were able to overcome all of the "clogging" charity runners? LOL Puhleez. I think we all know the answer ! Anyone who thinks charity runners are a problem really really needs to get over themselves. Have a heart.
If the "running community" - didn't know there was such a thing - feels "charity" runners are "lowering the level of competition," what does it want done? "True" competitors can run past the "charity" runners - if that's the "rubbing point." But there have advantages to charity runners - they bring more observers and as you say, "fueled a racing boom!" I say let everyone who qualifies in the Marathon, run the big "M". Or if the running community is so unhappy or must "grumble" - then grieve it throughout the world community of competitive runners. Hey, hold a world runners' conference every year to decide the issue. Competitive runners could hold a 5 year conference "marathon" to adopt changes, qualifying rules, or whatever. Can't people just be happy - can't we all just run and be happy and get along? Ooops! Maybe that's asking too much. crj
Connie, Jamaica Plain
Runners are funny people (and yes, I'm one of them, not to mention a past race director). We complain that obesity is a problem in this country and bemoan the lack of media coverage given to our sport, but the minute someone steps on our toes and threatens our self-concept of the road martyr, boy do we get uppity! This whole thing shouldn't be a problem if larger races incorporate a wave-start model. Folks who are truly "competitive" and aiming to "shave seconds off their time" would obviously then qualifiy to start at a different time than would charity runners who are looking just to finish. If you're competitive and have a qualifying time, you'll start long before any "penguins" do, and anyone running for charity who does not have a qualifiying time starts in the last wave. And please, people who do marathons for charity still have to cover 26.2 miles, whether they walk it or run it. 95% of people in this country don't know what it's like to cover 1/10th that distance without stopping for a Starbucks break, so give charity marathoners a little bit of credit.
What is so devaluing to "serious" athletes about non-traditional runners running for charity? The non-traditional runners at least make the event interesting for the spectators. The stick figures should be thankful that they get to clog the streets of Boston for a day, instead of banished to the treadmills as they should be.