Boston Who?

Confession: I don’t get the hype about Boston.

(Go ahead and amass your mad rant in the comments now. It’s cool. I’ll wait.)

But really, what’s the big deal? Is it elitist thing with qualifying? Is it the history of the race itself? Tell me, because I don’t get it.

I don't really get the hype about Boston. Then again, I'm a Jersey Girl.

I don’t really get the hype about Boston. Then again, I’m a Jersey Girl.

And before you go crazy on me, yes, I’ve been there to see it. I’ve cheered for my aunt who ran. It was…like most other marathons. Except for one thing.

Standing around near the finish, I heard a lot of things that made me sad. From more than one person, runners and cheerers alike, came the comment:

“Oh, they didn’t qualify. They’re on a charity team.”

Not once, not twice, multiple times from multiple people.

My first Marine Corps Marathon. My first time running for Team Fisher House. A very proud moment, indeed.

My first Marine Corps Marathon. My first time running for Team Fisher House. A very proud moment, indeed.

I was disappointed to hear this from runners and non-runners alike as I wandered around Boston the weekend of the marathon. Who puts down charity runners? I mean, seriously?!?! These people have no soul.

That’s when I lost any desire I had to run Boston.

 

I’ve run 6 marathons for Team Fisher House and am proud to have done so. I don’t think there’s any shame at all in running for a charity team. I would never look down on someone running for something more than his/herself. I think it’s admirable.

It’s not like Boston has a great history, either.

MARATHON

(Image courtesy of KatherineSwitzer.com)

I get that it’s prestigious and maybe that draws some people. But what about the rest? I would really like to know, those of you have been or are hell-bent on getting there…

…why?

Why Boston?

Just wondering.

Now go out and run!

 

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16 thoughts on “Boston Who?

  1. It’ll be interesting to see what responses you get. For the longest time I didn’t really understand the allure of the race. Now that I’ve done several marathons with basically none going as planned, I sort of “get” what makes qualifying special. That said, the desire to run it just isn’t there for me. A lot of people I know what to qualify, but don’t have a plan, not realizing that it takes some strategy to get fast enough to qualify.

    • It does take strategy and not a lot of people have the gift to do it without wanting to train hard. I guess I just don’t have that “just want to qualify for Boston” to validate myself as a runner.

  2. Running the Boston Marathon would be very special to me, because I am SLOW. lol. I have only run 2 full Marathons and my PR was 4:30… so if I can train and get fast enough to qualify, that would be amazing… Plus I have tons of family in Boston and my older sister who runs with me went to BU. With that being said, one of her college roommates ran Chicago in 4:40, not a Boston qualifying time, but she only wanted to run one more marathon and thought Boston should be the one. She ran Boston with a charity, and ended up pushing a disabled boy in a wheel chair for a good portion of the race. Now thats hardcore. :D

      • I can see Boston being the ideal of many races but I too am slow and probably would never qualify and that’s okay with me. I run for the feeling and the exercise of it and I happen to feel accomplished,even after a regular run. Although I haven’t been able to run in quite some time due to this intestinal disease I have been fighting, I WILL get back out there and run marathon’s for the fun of it. I have placed in 5k’s, 3rd for my age group, it was a thrill but I never went there with an intention to place. LOL That’s the funny part and my girlfriend who did go to place -didn’t, she wasn’t pleased. I would LOVE to do NYC one day,and maybe I will over time get faster to qualify but there are so many races out there I’d be content with any of them. :)

  3. You already saw my tweets, but just thought I’d pop in here :)

    So get ready for a novel ;)

    As a new-ish runner (started in 2010) I never imagined that I would run a marathon. But, I did! I ran Richmond in 2011 and had an incredible experience – finishing under my sub-4 goal with a 3:59. As I searched for my next marathon, I found out that for my age group, 3:35 or better was my qualifying time, which meant I’d have to take about 24 minutes off – in my mind, that was roughly a minute off each mile. That sounded hard – really hard – and that motivated me.

    Since running is something I do for fun in my “spare” time, (between working full time and attending grad school) qualifying for Boston is the highest ‘level’ that I can reach as a mere mortal (AKA not an elite). I was never an athlete before I ran, but running makes me feel like I can do anything. It has changed my life, truly.

    I’m gonna be real here: I hate my job. I hate the town I live in and I, like many others in their almost-30’s don’t know what I want to do “when I grow up.” Striving for Boston gives me something to work toward. It’s something I do for me and something that makes me feel good about myself.

    That being said, it is not the only reason I run! Like I mentioned, I’m a big fan of the charity aspect of running – I’ve done lots of fundraising and I think it’s a totally awesome way to get involved in the running community while maintaining health and fitness. I don’t look down on people that choose to run Boston with a charity, but I do get the disdain: I mean, you can qualify for Boston and NOT get in – because it’s such a competitive field – because a charity runner – who might be running the race in 5, 6 or 7 hours – “took” your coveted spot. Again, I don’t think that, but I get it.

    ANYWAY

    Six marathons in, I am eight minutes away from qualifying now. I research course maps, qualifying statistics, interrogate friends – all to plan my next race and next qualifying attempt. It drives me.

    And to answer your question…why Boston? Well, it could’ve been NY, LA, Seattle, Albuquerque…but those don’t have that mystique or qualifying standards. Boston is special because it is one of a kind.

    And that’s why Boston means so much to me….

  4. I’m sad to hear people said that about charity runners, I would think people would be supportive! My marathon PR is currently 4:43 so I’m not on the Boston train, although I can see how it would be cool to do if I would qualify. This year I’m visiting my friend during race weekend and running the 5K just for the heck of it! But yes – so many other marathons out there!

  5. There’s a status/prestige about qualifying for Boston. If you say that you ran in the Boston marathon, most people would automatically assumed that you ran it because you worked really hard to qualify. Many people work on to get their qualifying time for a few years. If you ran it because you’re running for charity team, you bypass all the work it takes to qualify (not that I’m discounting the work it takes to run a marathon). In short, Boston then becomes like any other marathon.

    By having qualifying times, not just anyone can run in Boston. By having charity runners, Boston then becomes like any other marathon. Hence the distinction between qualifying and being a charity runner. I don’t think anyone is disparaging the fact that they’re raising money for charity, just that it is perceived as “being a short cut.” The thought is that if they just really wanted to raise money for charity, they could have done it for any marathon.

  6. I think most people strive for the BQ because it seems to be the accepted standard of “fastness” in the running world. Aside from Olympic Trial qualifications (which aren’t attainable for most runners), BQ’s are the only real accepted measures of success for recreational runners. I think it has much less to do with the marathon itself (although apparently the marathon is quite spectacular) and more with reaching that standard.

    I am running Boston this April as a qualified runner, and I would never dismiss a charity runner nor do I think that they don’t belong there, or that they negatively affect the experience. Charity runners help the community in countless ways. But I would kind of compare the situation to getting into an Ivy League college. Most people work hard, study, do all of the extra curricular activities, and obsess over test scores to get accepted while others have their parents make a sizable donation to get in. It doesn’t necessarily make them any less deserving to be there, and they will arguably still have to do a lot of work, but the effort is different.

    • In the Ivy League analogy, I would cast the charity runners as students accepted as part of affirmative action. Their presence adds diversity to the school and its students. So do charity runners. They didn’t “buy” their way in, the way other categorize it. They raised money for something that is meaningful to them to run one of the most celebrated marathons in the world.

      I disagree that the effort is any different. In fact, people who run slower spend more hours on the road, more energy per mile, and are out there long after you and I have gone home to shower and celebrate.

  7. like other have said, it’s the prestige. even non-runners know that boston is a competitive race, so saying that you qualified is one of the few moments you’ll have as a runner where people actually “get” you.

    so, that is cool. but. i ran boston in 2011, and honestly, it was my least favorite race. not only is the course impossible (which i guess some people love), but what i really didn’t like is the mayhem surrounding the race. so many logistics, so many people. expo was PACKED and i had to wake up at 4 a.m. to catch a bus and then sit in hopkinton with the other runners, waiting for 2 hours before i even started running. not an ideal warmup at all!

    • That is rough. Doesn’t sound like fun at all. Then again, New York would probably seem very much the same since you have to get up early to trek out to Staten Island. Me? I’m a fan of walking to the start line 10 minutes before the gun goes off. Example: Marine Corps, Jersey, Philly…pretty much everywhere else :)

  8. Pingback: Running For More « run stronger every day

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