Friday, January 14, 2011

Celebrities and Bandits

One of the coolest things about running a marathon is that every runner running a marathon gets to compete on the same course at the same time with world class athletes. I don't know of any other sport where this is possible.

So in Boston on April 18 I will be running with the top 2 American women marathoners, Kara Goucher (marathon PR 2:25:53) and Desiree Davila (marathon PR 2:26:20) and America's best male marathoner, Ryan Hall (marathon PR 2:06:17). It's my second running date with Ryan - we ran the New York City Marathon together in 2009. Wonder if he'll remember me?

Another cool thing about running big city marathons is running with the celebrities who show up to run the race. Last year Valerie Bertinelli ran Boston as a charity runner in 5 hours, 14 minutes. No word yet on other non elite runner celebrities at Boston this year, but it's fun to run and look at another runner and think: wow, there goes my fave movie star/rock star - and I'm beating him!

Another group of people who run are known as bandits. An article I read in "Marathon and Beyond" magazine says this is too cute of a name for them, they should be called leeches or parasites. Whatever you want to call "them", they are certainly thieves. They don't pay the three figure dollar amount the rest of us paid to run the race. Yet they run the same course as us, take up space, make us run around them, use the water and energy gels and other food that is put out for us paying customers, and use any of the other amenities, from port a potties to medical attention to massages that the rest of us paid for and the race director allotted for considering how many people he or she figured would attend. They can be spotted by the absence of the bib number that they are not wearing pinned to their runner shirt or shorts.

I know I should lighten up, but it really bothers me that these people are running this race for free when they are legally prohibited from running. It is difficult to catch them in a field of 26,000 runners, especially when many of the non elite runners are wearing jackets over their bib numbers for the first few miles, if not for the whole race, depending upon how cold it is. And in a race like the Boston Marathon, where the only people who should be running are the people who qualified for the race by running a specific time according to their age group, charity runners, and people affiliated with one of the sponsors of the race, such as the John Hancock company, it hurts to see non paying, non qualifying people running.

So what can I do? What else? If I see one of those leeches or parasites, I will pick up my speed, and run faster, until I've passed them, and make sure I stay past them until I beat them at the finish line. If I see a lot of bandits, then I'll just run that much faster. Maybe I'll even catch up to Kara, Desiree, and Ryan!

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