Any runner who qualifies should probably run the Boston Marathon at some point, because — as sappy and cliche as it sounds — it’s the holy grail, grandaddy and big momma, if all of those things are simultaneously possible, of marathons.
I fully appreciate the history of the Boston Marathon and what the event has meant to our sport. The magic is in the feeling of accomplishment and reward: the opportunity to run in the footsteps of the greats and being included in an exclusive tribe of accomplished athletes. I get that.
It was somewhere around the time when Runner’s World called Boston “running’s Justin Beiber”, however, that I started to rethink this thing.
Up until a few weeks ago, I intended to sign up for Boston this past Wednesday, when my registration date, based on qualifying time, gender and age, came up. But when I really thought about it, my heart wasn’t in it.
As the running nerds know, the Boston Marathon last year sold out in a few hours, so the Boston Athletic Association changed the registration process, allowing those who qualify by 20 minutes or more, 10 minutes or more and five minutes or more, respectively, to register during the week ahead of the just-barely qualifiers.
(Also as a result of the race’s increasing popularity, next year the qualifying standards will get tougher.)
I was super lucky this past season to run Boston and before that the New York City marathon. I’m glad I did.
But I am so beaten down (OK this is going to be something like a rant) by over-crowded, ridiculously commercialized, overhyped running events.
It goes against the reasons I like running—for its raw physicality, simplicity and because it is a meditative chore that is both excruciating and euphoria-enducing.
I also like the pressure, competition and camaraderie that is present in groups and at large races — but that is not exclusive to this one event, you guys. Maybe it’s the grandaddy, but we all know that when something becomes too mainstream, it loses a little of its magic.
If you aren’t running Beantown, for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean you are relegated to Big D Marathon (God forbid). Check out, say, the Gansett Marathon — it $70 compared to the $150 for Boston and capped at 500 runners.
It’s near the beach in Rhode Island. It is a qualification-only race started by a fast-on-his-feet but slow-on-the-keyboard guy who got locked out of Boston. Here’s a piece about him on NPR.
Disclosure: My friends will know — so I must admit — that actually what this is all about is my fear and loathing of large crowds. Though I still think I make a good case for dissing Boston …