I don't believe that starting and finishing a marathon makes you a marathoner.I read this in the wake of both the Chicago Marathon (in which many of my family, friends, and fellow bloggers competed) and the Towpath Marathon (which I have spent months helping to coordinate). I read this after seeing dozens of "I am a marathoner" posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and various blogs. Many of those posts talked about four hour marathons. Six hour marathons. Even a couple three hour marathons. None of these people were winning marathons, they were simply running them to prove to themselves they could. The competition wasn't "me versus the other leaders", it was "me versus me" and every single one of them won that race.
Then I read more of Steve's remarks, including some that were cut from the online version of the article. At one point he even cites four hour marathon times (and 25 minute 5k times) with a final thought of "that's not running in my mind." So that means almost everyone I know, including myself, isn't really a runner?
No, sir. Nope. Nuh-uh. Wrong.
I might agree that walking a mile isn't the same as running it. I probably agree that walking a 5k for the medal doesn't make you a runner, and that some people twist the truth of their participation to sound accomplished. But once you get into distances like a marathon, or even a half marathon, and you're going faster than a mosey, you're a runner. If you walk parts of a marathon, or even all of it, you're still a marathoner, you covered the same distance as the guy who won. Steve Jones runs a marathon faster than I can run a half marathon, but that doesn't mean I'm not a runner. That's like saying a high school soccer player isn't really a soccer player because they're not in the British Premier League. Like saying the pee-wee baseball championship team kids aren't really ballplayers because they're not on a Major League team. It is simply not so.
Image Source: Walk Jog Run
Running is a unique sport. It is, as far as I can tell, the ONLY sport in which pros and absolute beginners can be on the same field at the same time, in the same competition. Running is the great equalizer of the sporting world, and that's an incredible thing. A race against your own time or your own inhibitions is just as powerful as a race against the other guys in the A Corral, and in many cases it is perhaps even MORE meaningful to those people who are plodding along for hours. No, I'm not a pro runner, but I damn sure am a runner, and every step of my race counts just as much as every step of yours.
It's a shame that someone as prominent in the industry has to disparage the accomplishments of people who have trained and suffered and sacrificed and planned and worked incredibly hard to achieve something special. Not everyone can be the best, this is true, but that should never mean it isn't worth setting a goal and pushing for a better performance. Has running become overly commercialized, as Jones suggests in other parts of his interview? Heck yes, but so has just about every other hobby, activity, pastime, sport, diversion, or any other anything in modern culture. That doesn't give anyone permission to cheapen the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the thousands of personal races that are run at every major race event.
To all the new marathoners in my life, and to all the repeat marathoners as well, CONGRATULATIONS on your amazing accomplishment! Don't let the haters and the snobs take away one ounce of your pride. You've earned your accolades, and no one can take that away from you!
Did you run this past weekend? Tell me about your PRs, your success stories, your triumphs and your disappointments! Every single story makes you more and more of a runner, no matter what some elite jerk has to say about it!