Lately I’ve been thinking about how cool it is that anyone can go out there and run a race–be it a marathon or a 5K–if they just put their mind to the task. In fact, I’m really proud of some of my friends who are gearing up for their first road race this year! It excites me and for my own selfish reasons I hope they get the bug so I can add some more running buddies to my life!
So what makes a runner a runner? I stumbled across some older postings on Runner’s World Rants & Raves online forum. Apparently someone wrote the following in Running Times magazine’s January 2010 issue: “It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours. It used to be that running a marathon was worth something–there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?'”
Hmmm….that does not seem right. The fact is that the marathon is a journey for many and just because you do not run the entire time does not make you any less of a runner. Having the guts to get out there to be a part of the event–whether you run, walk or crawl your way to the finish line is an accomplishment in and of itself. And the 8 hour finishes I find hard to believe as a lot of races do set a maximum time in which runners have to cross the finish line so that roads are not blocked for the entire day.
Very few of us run a marathon to compete against the other runners. That is reserved for the elite runners. Sure we play mind games during the run making little competitions in our head about passing that girl up ahead or sprinting at the very end to beat that guy to the finish (clearly with no idea at what time he crossed the start line). But the fact is that each and every one of us is competing in our own way. I competed to prove I could do a marathon and then I competed again to prove I could beat my first time. But whether I ran the whole time or not is not the point. We get out there and do what we are capable of doing. Crossing the finish line is an accomplishment and having that medal draped across your neck is all the proof you need to prove the naysayers wrong.