Thursday, February 17, 2011

Change Isn't Always Progress

So I spent some time Wednesday night trying to write a post on the new Boston Marathon qualifying procedure, but I was losing my nightly fight with Mr. Sandman earlier than normal so I wasn't able to string a few coherent thoughts together.

Instead of writing some really long post about it, though, I'm just going to hit some of the highlights.

In case you haven't heard, the Boston Marathon organizers will offer up registration not on a first-come first-served basis but rather will open it up to qualifiers who had the fastest qualifying times. Those who finished at least 20 minutes faster than their BQ time will get first dibs, followed by those who finished 10 minutes faster, 5 minutes faster and then everyone. Each group will get a few days to register and all registration will take place over the course of two weeks.

I didn't realize initially what was going on but then I read a lot of the fallout from runners via blogs, Twitter and Facebook. My conclusion? It's inequitable and just plain wrong.

* Double Qualifying: You have to qualify for Boston, but now you have to hope your qualifying time is fast enough. So in essence you have to qualify twice. The point of qualifying is to get somewhere. Once you qualify, then you should be on even footing with everyone else. Such is not the case.

* Knee-Jerk Reactions: This all is in response to last year's registration, which sold out in 8 hours. But the year before, it sold out in 65 days. Who is to say that last year was a fluke?

* Created Their Own Mess: Do you know why last year sold out in eight hours? Partly because marathon organizers made a huge push to get qualified Boston marathoners to register.

* Stomping Dreams: The Boston Marathon is the gold standard for marathons, an event only the strongest can compete in. However, part of the allure was that the average runner had a chance to compete in it. Now, the average runner will be weeded out and this marathon will turn into an elite event. It might as well become the Olympic trials.

*Stomping Dreams, Part II: Running has become really popular in the last several years, with record numbers of participants in marathons and races in general. Sadly, this is the Boston Marathon's response to that surge of popularity, to make their event an even more elite, harder-to-attain race.

* We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Race: There are plenty of other races to train for and enjoy. Boston is great and running Boston is a great accomplishment but that doesn't mean you are any less of a runner if you aren't fast enough to reach Boston. If you need a list of races, check this out. I know it's but a lot of those events have full marathons as well.


Amanda said...

I've tried to keep earthly goals like this one far from me, because honestly people will always dissapoint you. I don't need anyone or any race to tell me I'm a runner, I know it and that's all that matters.

Moore On Running said...

I love running in Boston and would love to run the Boston Marathon, but its never been my ultimate goal.

I have finished five marathons and one Ultra and at everyone of those races I was treated like a rock star at the end. It made absolutely no difference what my time was.

I have worked to lower my finishing time, but that's a competition with me and no one else.

I still think its okay for Boston to have its standards and more power to those who can qualify and register in time.

But for me, its all about the adventure of just running!

Kerrie T. said...

I never even knew about Boston and it's holiness before 2009. Sorry Boston peeps, no disrespect -- I do admire how fast you are, but I'd rather run a marathon in a cool destination than worry about qualifying, etc. Like the Athens marathon! That'd be cool!

Jill said...

I don't know, it just seems odd that there's no real goal to aim for other than "faster than exactly BQ time." I am in no shape whatsover to BQ right now but when I did, I did it with 14 minutes to spare, so this wouldn't really be anything I'd be concerned about if I did want to go again (and my heel cooperated...two very big IFs) but it's just not fair to those that work so hard to make it by mere seconds.

tahoegirl said...

I have no desire to be fast enough to qualify for Boston. I know I will never be there.

Thanks for your comment today. I was gonna throw in a snide remark to you but held back :o)

Detroit Runner said...

My thoughts exactly. There are many marathons to run. Even if I could run this one, there are many on my list that I would rather do before Boston even if I did qualify. These things cost money - hotel, plane fair, taxis, food, entry costs. So it's not like I could do many of them anyway.

Anonymous said...

Very well put! People say it's fair to have a better chance to participate in the race if you are faster, but that kind of beats the purpose for me. It's this entire concept of running being a competition only against yourself and the clock being overhauled. And especially in my age group and even more especially for men, the time is already so low that people have to train so hard to achieve BQ. And then what? Even then they may not run Boston because there are some faster people? I don't know, I am not BQ material and I don't know if I will ever qualify or even try to qualify for Boston, but this looks... mean and elitist to me.