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I got the following email from someone a few minutes ago.
I have enormous respect for the Boston Marathon. Having lived in Boston for 12 years, I’ve followed it my entire adult life. I have always known about the qualifying time and never expected to run Boston – I’m a slow runner (PR of 4:05) and I expect that – while I could qualify now that I’ve turned 40, I’ve decided instead to have a goal of running a marathon in every state by the time I turned 50.
I was pleasantly surprised on my 40th birthday by a friend who sponsored me by contributed to a charity affiliated with the race (Michael Listnow Respite Center). I’ve subsequently contributed to the charity, as have some of my friends. I expect you are aware of the relatively new tradition of charity runners at the Boston Marathon (and other marathons.)
I don’t believe this is a backdoor thing. I have an official number and am an invited part of the race (rather than a scab running without an entry.) I didn’t use any special influence - anyone can raise money for the charity to be part of the race – it’s not a matter of “buying a number”, but committing to raise a certain amount for the charity.
The Boston Marathon officially supports this as you can see on the web site “There are eighteen official charities participating in the 2006 Boston Marathon. The charities have fund-raising requirements and give a limited number of runners an opportunity to run Boston while benefiting a locally-based charity or chapter.”
I’m proud to run and contribute to a charity that is affiliated with the race. I have several friends who have qualified to run this year – they have all actively encouraged me to run even though I didn’t qualify by time. Finally, the marathon now segments the start. Charity runners are automatically put in the Second Wave which starts at 12:30. I’ll be lining up in the back so I don’t clog the way for any faster runner.
Again – I’m sorry this has caused you to feel the way you do. We live in a free country so you of course can feel anyway you want. However, I was surprised and saddened to get this email as I didn’t feel like my commentary on my blog about the marathon was disrespectful in any way. In fact, this is the first negative comment or lack of encouragement from anyone that I’ve interacted acted with – including many runners I don’t know – who have encouraged me, including my coach, Bobby McGee, who has coached numerous Olympic and world class runners.
As John Bingham says, “Waddle on, friends.”