Thursday, April 7, 2016

IT QUALIFIES

I like it.

I like the fact that, in the past few years, running has become the people's sport.

I like that, in the face of a worldwide obesity epidemic that threatens, for the first time in modern history that the next generation may have a shorter lifespan than ours, that more people are entering more running races than ever.

I'm happy that 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons continue to grow in numbers.

But I really like the fact that the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon, continues to strictly adhere to qualifying standards.

The Boston Marathon is special, in a sport that is special. In no other sport can you actually compete with the elite athletes of that sport. When you run a race, you could possibly compete against an Olympic champion.

And at Chicago, New York City, or London, if you enter quickly enough, pay an outrageous entry fee, or get yourself on a waiting list, you're in!

But not at the Boston Marathon.

You must qualify at a Boston-approved marathon, and you must do so within a prescribed time period.

To me, it makes a unique running event even more magical.

In a goal-oriented sport, it makes folks work very hard to achieve a worthy goal.

And, in a sport that oozes democracy, where all runners are created equal, it is a great equalizer. Our name, pedigree, or past accomplishments mean nothing if you're not able to qualify.

Lest you think that I speak from some lofty perch, think again.

I have competed in sixteen Boston Marathons. In 1983, I ran my personal best marathon of 2:22:54 at the Boston Marathon. After running a 3:04 at the 2013 race, I suffered a string of injuries that may prevent me from ever returning to the Boston Marathon. Because if I don't qualify, I'm out.

And that's alright.

It gives me hope. It gives me an incentive. If I want to go back, if have to qualify, just like everyone else. Qualifying times provide all of us, despite our age, an incentive to run the big race.

Keep those qualifying times Boston Marathon. Crack down on the cheaters and keep the race special and pure.

That qualifies in my mind as a pretty good deal.