Yesterday, I saw a tweet going around about the alleged copying of a runner’s Boston Marathon bib. Now, I am not so naive to believe that this is not a regular occurrence at many popular road races, but as a runner, and a three-time Boston-Qualifying-Attempter, it definitely struck a chord for me.
Naturally, outcry from the running community was immediate, and viral – multiple articles popped up about it within hours, including this brash post. What I didn’t expect, however, were the replies from those who not only did not see the actions of these individuals as wrong, but accused runners/marathoners of being out of their gourd for being upset about it.
Now, as a marathoner, I get it. There is something wrong with us – we run 26.2 (or more) for fun. Yes, I realize that sounds like lunacy to a high percentage of the population, and just a few years ago, I thought that, too. But ever since I crossed the finish line of my first marathon in 2011, something inside of me changed. When I reached that goal of a sub-4 my first go-around, I felt like I could do anything…even something big and crazy like qualify for the Boston Marathon. And although I haven’t achieved that goal yet, I know that it *will* happen.
Do the Right Thing
The comments that brushed off the actions of these ‘rogue’ runners as “not hurting anyone” – I just don’t buy it. First of all, it’s just wrong. They stole something – at the most basic level, or if it was “just a race” – they stole a $185 opportunity. Whether they photocopied the bib themselves, or bought it off Craigslist, they went into 26.2 miles on Monday absolutely knowing that they did not EARN that spot. Every legitimate runner on the course sacrificed so much – whether that means hard training, intense fundraising (bibs for Boston have fundraising minimums of $7K!) or both, it is just not right.
But: Marathons are Expensive, I don’t have time to train so who cares if I just run on the streets that are closed anyway, You Runners are Just Wasting Your Time Worrying About This…
Nothing but excuses. Here’s the thing – I do believe in karma and I too, believe that $175+ is a lot of money to run down the streets of any city. But this is our sport, our passion – and as a community, it does hurt when these things happen. We work hard, we pay these fees, and we defend and protect our own because we are runners. We are upset and hurt because these people stole a bib from a legitimate, registered Boston Marathoner.
Even if you’re not a runner, I am sure there is something in your life that you are passionate and connected to. I have written about this before – marathons are more than miles – and if you don’t have a marathon in your life, I suggest you find it now, before it’s too late. Life is too short.
…and a word on Banditing
I’ve read many articles about a history of Boston and bandits. I admit, I haven’t been running long enough to know everything about it, and honestly, I do see the perspective of these runners - but the fact remains – since Boston 2013, the world is a different place. Race officials have to do everything they can to keep people safe, and if that means limiting, to the best of the ability, the race to just those officially registered, then so be it. Maybe that makes me a square, rule-follower, but I’m okay with that.
Maybe a “witch hunt” of these bandits isn’t the best way to make a change, but if even one of those runners steps forward, realizes the impact of their choice and chooses to make a charitable donation, or even do something good for someone else…I think that’s a good first step.