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 marathon walkers: good or bad?
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:20 am 

What's your opinion about the growing number of walkers in marathons? A good boost for the sport, or an annoying nuisance? This topic seems to generate a lot of strong opinions, so I'd like to know what people here think.

Here are the pros and cons as I can see them:

pros:
People are out there exercising, so good for them. Who cares if they walk or run?
Walkers mean more overall entrants, meaning more money for the race organizers.
More money means the race can offer better services, and more new races are likely to launched.

cons:
Walkers get in the way of runners, clogging the route.
An 8-hour "marathoner" diminishes the prestige of those who finish in 2 to 4 hours.
Races are for all-out running, not leisurely strolling.


Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:58 am 

I simply think they should have their own events and call them something else. I see aids walks and things like that all the time and i would feel out of place running in one of those so i don't. even if you have them at the same event, have a different start time and corrale, etc. it would be an entirely seperate issue if they all had good etiquitte but there's enough that don't that it's a problem. i think the 8 hour thing does diminish someone who gets in shape to do it in four, but i don't know where you draw the line. maybe oprah. if you can't beat oprah, you get booted off the course.

BGibbsLMT

Southington, CT
Joined: 12 Dec 2004
Posts: 68

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 6:46 pm 

Bricks wrote:
, but i don't know where you draw the line. maybe oprah. if you can't beat oprah, you get booted off the course.


I wanna beat Oprah, with a stick


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Sat Dec 18, 2004 1:22 pm 

I tend to agree with that kind of thinking too, but as you said, where do you draw the line? Everyone you ask seems to draw it so that they're on the inside, and slower people are on the outside. I guess for me, you need to run at least most of the 26.2 miles to be a marathoner. Since walking pace is about 15:00 to 20:00 minutes per mile over level ground, I'll arbitrarily say that you need to average 14:00/mile or better to be a runner. That works out to roughly a 6 hour marathon finish time.

swrittenb


Joined: 06 Dec 2004
Posts: 27

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 11:39 pm 

I've got a friend who just completed her 7 hour marathon (!!!), and not to belittle the experience, but I can't put her in the same category as a seasoned marathoner. At the same time, even moving that distance is a big thing that only a minority of people even do in their lifetime. Regardless of your pace, you'll burn 3000+ calories in that timeframe, and that's no small feat. It's hard to admit that someone who walked the distance is in the same category as someone who raced it, sure, but the marathon is a distance event. Most people can't even walk that far.

To play the devil's advocate against myself, I feel that people who do it as a tourist event and take photographs of themselves along the way are all mixed up. My pictures are expressive of the effort I put in, and I'm proud to look at them (even if I look like hell in the later ones). To see people smiling and waving kind of hurts, but at the same time, they grunted through the same distance I did. They might have had a worse time, but they still did exactly the same task that I did.

It's a weird situation, yeah.. I approve of the time constraints, like six hour minimum finishing times. At least people have to run part of the way. I mean, the woman who ran CIM and had the world record in the 80+ age group had approximately a 4:30. Surely people can try to at least match that??


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:31 am 

I once heard an elite marathoner say he had huge respect for the 6 hour finishers, because they have to suffer through the race nearly three times as long as him. That's an interesting viewpoint. If you accept that an overweight, out-of-shape runner is pushing as hard as he possibly can to finish in 6 hours, then he's sustaining a maximum effort level for three times longer than elites who finish in just over two. That's three times as much suffering out on the course.

ginger

Cambridge, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 46

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 4:41 pm 

I don't have a problem with people who walk marathons, so long as they start in the back! I would think walkers would enjoy an event more catered to them (e.g. more "hoopla" during the race, like bands and fun stops), though, than a marathon, which really caters to runners (e.g. the maximum finishing time that a lot of races impose.)

psulli
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Vancouver, BC
Joined: 21 Dec 2004
Posts: 21

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:21 pm 

I'm a 4 hour marathoner, which puts me right in the middle of the debate. It's all relative. I know there are a lot of sub-3 hour marathoners who see guys like me as clutter. I have also experienced the frustration of sharing a mass start with hundreds of laid-back walkers who see the whole thing as a kind of an extended stroll and get annoyed when I try to get around them and get to the start line. It's especially frustrating when the marathon doesn't feature chip time. At those times, I have to remind myself that the journey begins with a single step and these folks may just find it in themselves to shed the pounds and start running. The solution seems simple--as time is not really a factor for runners, just start them after the runners have cleared the start and design the course so we don't crash into each other on the out and back. In a way, I have a worse time with people who race with dogs and baby strollers, but that's another thread!

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 2:32 pm 

Yeah, not having chip timing for a crowded start stinks... you can see precious seconds and minutes slip away as you wait to reach the start line. Of course, you can still do your own personal "chip time" by waiting until you reach the line to start your watch.

I don't mind people with baby strollers too much. They move in straight lines, and tend to be pretty speedy anyway. I agree about dogs though. Most smart race directors don't permit that kind of stuff anyway, along with walkmans, rollerblades, and the other goofiness.


sfird
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Long Island, NY
Joined: 10 Dec 2004
Posts: 80

Re: marathon walkers: good or bad? Posted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 9:27 am 

My view is that it is better to include than to exclude. That being said walkers and slower runners like me, need to learn their place. There really is no reason for a slower runner or walker to start near the front of the pack and then be in the way of the faster runners. Unfortunately I think there is a direct relationship between speed and recognition of this fact. The slower you are the less you realize that you should start in the back. I ran MCM this year and started in the 4:30 corral. I finished in 4:28 so I guess I picked the right corral. Unfortunately thousands of slower runners/walkers started ahead of me causing a bottleneck for at least the first 6 miles. There's no reason for this. In fact, if everyone started where they belong, there would be no bottleneck. So I guess my thinking is to include everyone and then shoot everyone who starts out of place!

As far as defining who ran a marathon, I'm not sure there is an exact definition. I walk through water stops and in two of the three marathons I've run I walked a little more in the last 3-4 miles. Even with this walking I still feel that I ran a marathon. I'm sure that there are purists that would say I didn't run a marathon. I'm also sure that there are people who wonder why I bother since I don't finish under 4:00 or under 3:00 hours. None of this matters as I run for me and I consider myself a marathon runner.

A few years ago I read an interview with one of the top marathoners who said that he is more amazed at the ability of the slow marathoners to stay on the course for over 4 hours than he is with his ability to finish in a little over 2 hours. That made be realized that it's all about accomplishing something with the talent and ability you have.


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