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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Boston Marathon – Major Emotional Bummer

Comments (63)

I got the following email from someone a few minutes ago.

I’ve been a reader of your blog for some time now, but will follow it no longer. Even though I don’t understand why someone would want to do it,sliding in the back door to run the Boston Marathon they way you secured your number is your business - you have to live with yourself. Bragging on your blog that you are using your influence, and the influence of your friends to essentially buy a place in that race is demeaning to you, and the great race itself, and this is why I’ve lost respect for you. I know many people who have dedicated years to their running, have not met the qualifying standard, but don’t have the money or know friends who can help them buy their way into the race. Trust me – these are the kind of people that don’t have the resources to build a “treadputer,” nor would they want to. But they are the kind of people who truly understand what the Boston Marathon is all about, and would not go unless they met the qualification standard.
 
If you read this before you line up, I hope you take a look around on the starting line and really take a look at the people surrounding you. The overwhelming majority of these individuals made the sacrifice, did things the right way, and deserved to be there. You can learn quite a bit from them, Brad. If you are reading this after the race, I hope you realize where you fit in on that starting line. 
 
You are a young man, and certainly should be able to qualify the right way. You are not doing this the right way, but I have a hunch you know this.  If you are willing to accept and go ahead with this short cut, I no longer have respect for you as a professional, or as a person.
 
Having spent the last few days getting my head into the idea that I was about to run 26.2 miles on the oldest marathon course in the US, in a city I lived in for 12 years, for a charity that I’ve supported, this really bummed me out.  I took a deep breath and wrote the following response.
 
I’m sorry you feel this way. 

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.”

  • relaxedguy

    Brad, I’ll be at the corner of Hertford and Boyleston cheering you on. You wrote a fine response to someone who obviously has a giiant chip on their shoulder.

  • Craig Wilcox

    I understand your reader’s complaints. However, I completely disagree with them. If it were someone else–perhaps a Richard Mellon Scaife type who uses inherited influence to wreck the world–I might feel differently. But from what I can tell, you’re making real contributions through your work and civic activities, and if you can do so while having a little fun in a “sanctioned” way, go for it.

    The fact that your friends made this available to you is even better evidence that you’re the right person for the 26.2 mile job. You and your friends realize that no one is a “self-made man” in our society. If you appreciate and reward the work of others that make your life better, the same will come back to you. This could be the secret sauce of the universe.

    Have a relaxing run and reflect on how giving back works out so well for all of us. Do it for all of us who strive to be running in your shoes in the future.

  • http://www.fun-i.com Todd

    The beauty of a blog is it allows you to interact with readers and build a sense of community. The downside is not everyone will agree with your sentiments and on a rare occasion they will voice their displeasure in a disparaging manner. IMO the �former reader� has every right to his opinion, but it�s unfortunate he didn�t have all the facts or a more holistic perspective on the situation. Please, don�t let this be an “emotional bummer” and instead use it to motivate you to run a terrific marathon in support of the charity of your choice�.

  • http://egoventures.blogspot.com Andrew Luter

    Brad – Even though you are training on the Treadputer, and not the superior Eliptiputer – I am still pulling for you. I think your reader was off base, and was impressed by your response (mine would have been two works and you can guess what they would have been). Good luck in your quest for 50 by 50.

    - Andrew

  • Taylor

    I’m all for you running the marathon! I’ve read enough of your blog to know you aren’t the type of person who weasles his way into a race. Run fast and good luck. I’ll be running in TN in two weeks.

  • http://tatler.typepad.com/nose/ Alfred Essa

    Brad, I will be rooting for you all the way. I am a runner and admire anyone who gets out there and is willing to give it their all. It’s not about winning. It’s not about times. John Wooden sums it up: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Sounds trite but run your own race. Go out there, give it your best shot, and be sure to have some fun.

    Feld Thoughts is my favorite blog because you are willing to share your expertise and also not afraid to let it “all hang out.” It’s apparent that you are a very kind and giving person. You don’t need to apologize to anyone.

    I am only sorry that I won’t be in Boston to cheer you on. Good Luck!

  • http://www.davehodson.com Dave Hodson

    Brad

    Don’t get bummed out – this is the week to taper, sleep, drink plenty of fluids and get prepared for the time of your life! Here’s hoping for decent weather.

    Enjoy it and good luck

  • http://mobileanalystwatch.blogspot.com/ John

    Unfortunately, the reader’s complaint about the “backdoor” entry of charity runners into major marathons is not uncommon. It’s really sad the contempt some folks have for those people pounding the pavement for more than 4, 5 or 6 hours at a time as if they are not real “runners”. I guess it’s a warped sense of entitlement (i.e. you’re impeding my path, making me wait for the bathroom, etc) that some runners who “qualified” have towards the slower set.

    Another knock against charity runners is the one and done mentality that exists among some participants and organizations alike. Completing the marathon (and raising funds) is the end goal instead of continuing to promote running and exercise afterwards.

    In my opinion, if it motivates you to continue exercising, lead a healthy lifestyle and raise money for a worthy charity then it can’t be bad.

    Personally, I could probably qualify for Boston, but the thought of running 20 mile long runs in training and then have to run 3+ hours for a marathon is enough to scare me off for the time being. I’ll just continue with my regular training and run the shorter races.

    It’s because of this that I have the ultimate respect for anyone willing to persevere through marathon training and then go out there and run 26.2 miles in anywhere from 2+ to 7 or more hours. Even more for the slower runners because they get to enjoy the pain much, much longer :-)

    So don’t mind the bashing, enjoy Boston on Monday, and try and not go too fast in the early downhill portions…

  • John

    I guess winning one World Series in 86 years will do this to a town…..Good luck and have a great time do something fun (and painful) for a good cause…..

  • Steve

    Brad you should not feel the least bit guilty for running the Boston Marathon. Charity sponsorship is perhaps the greatest mechanism to motivate ‘non-runners’ to experience a marathon. Had it not been for Team In Training & the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I never would have run my first marathon and not experienced first hand what it takes to be a competitive runner. While true the Boston Marathon is a special event, I would hardly put it on the same playing field as The Masters, The Super Bowl or even the World Series. You might want to make sure you are wearing your charity’s logo somewhere. Good Luck. I predict 3:52

  • Mr. X

    I can confirm that you can indeed get in as a “charity runner” even if you don’t have a qualifying time. I have a friend who does that too. I think that reader does not know about this.

  • Herb

    Brad,

    I’ve personally seen how committed you are to both running and charities. I have a ton of respect for you and will be cheering for you. You deserve to be there and you are an inspiration for many people, in many ways. Counter to what the other person said, at the starting line I think you should look to the sky and think about all the people you have helped out through your charitable work!

  • Bruce

    As somebody who used to be a ‘serious’ runner…
    Race officials set the rules by which a runner receives a number. You meet the rules, you get the number…this isn’t complicated. We’re not all graced with 5 minute per mile speed. The fact that you got a number means you’re not ‘banditing’ the race…running as a ‘bandit’ is cheating. My bro works for Citgo Pet and got to run Boston 2 years ago due to MDA work he’d done for Citgo, and even though he’s a 4.5 hour guy…he was a LEGAL entrant. Finishing was one of the proudest moments of his life…and I’m happy for him as I will be for you.

  • Martha

    Brad~

    I’ve always been proud of the incredible amount (monetarily and otherwise) that you and Amy do for charity. Don’t let this be an “emotional bummer”…. You have a lot of people cheering for you in all that you do.

    Your commitment and dedication to whatever you set your mind to do is a wonderful thing – keep moving forward!!

    Best of luck in the marathon… See you when you get back to Boulder.

  • Arron

    What is up with the esoteric mentality that often surrounds the so called ‘elitists’ in certain ‘specialized’ communities? And, can someone please tell me when the monopoly over running was established? If you want to get really technical about who the true ‘runners’ are, one must consider that humans, as a species, are nowhere near the fastest on the planet.

    I say if you have two or more working legs and enjoy using them, take one step back, call it like it is and then start moving forward.

    And, as for this being an emotional bummer, it sounds like you have better things to worry about: like rasing money for disabled children! In my experience, the individuals who are truly at the top of their game, whether they are an athlete, entrepreneur or venture capitalist, somehow manage to inspire, rather than lose respect for, those around them.

    My Dad gave me two pieces of fatherly advice: (1) “If you lose respect for anything in life you lose respect for all things” and (2) “the important thing in life is not to do anything that looks too stupid 10 million years from now.” On that note best of luck in Boston!

    Oh, by the way, I’m getting a treadputer as soon as I can afford one. :-)

  • Andrew

    Brad. As a Bostonian who has handed out fresh cut oranges / water at the beginning of heart break hill for many years I wouldn’t let this kill your excitment. We Bostonians are very protective of anything and everything that concerns our rich sport roots. As far as I am concerned you are a Bostonian since you went to school and lived here for 12 years. Good Luck,

  • http://mp.blogs.com Michael Parekh

    Well-balanced response to an unfair comment by your former reader, who has others have observed, seems to have a chip on his/her shoulder.

    At the core, the chip seems to be about athletic capability and “unfair” economic/influence-based advantages.

    In my book, anyone who is well on their way to running a marathon in every state over the next ten years has the athletic chops to compete with any runner in the “first wave” of the Boston marathoners.

    It’s a very cool goal.

    Run with your head held high.

  • http://www.durgamdental.com Chithra Durgam

    Brad, very classy response. The letter writer is entitled to his opinions but when he starts talking about the treadputer I think he is treading on thin ice, no pun intended. I understand that there are many people who would like to run the Boston marathon and don’t have the opportunity but there are different ways to qualify for the race. Despite your good intentions, you can’t please everyone. Best of luck!

  • Ms. X

    Come on. We can all applaud your philanthropic efforts and the other contributions to better our society but at least have the integrity to call a spade a spade. Next year when you rattle off the marathons under your belt you’ll include Boston. After people’s eyes raise (and they will), you will need to insert the disclaimer (and you must) that the ticket was a charity ticket not a merit ticket. In the end, the reality is you ran a marathon in Boston, not the Boston Marathon. Why your quest simply couldn’t acknowledge this is beyond me. It’s like the asterisk beside Barry Bonds’ redords….

  • http://www.zoomis.com Daman

    Brad, there are always some folks who cannot find a way to be happy for those who are financially successful. Would it be better for you to not be able to contribute to the charity or run because you are working a hard day at McDonald’s somewhere (an honest living, btw)? I for one, would love a treadputer in my future, and that post in particular is one reason I will continue to read your blog. Best of luck!

  • Chrys Hansen

    Interesting. I can’t stand cheaters of any sort and was surprised to see this email and even more surprised that you posted it. I haven’t been following your blog for very long but in my opinion your credibility has been enhanced by this and even more so by your response to the email. I wasn’t aware that charity runners were included in marathons and now I am enlightend. My only surprise is your choice for the heading, “Major Emotional Bunner”. Brad, I hope that you weren’t disturbed by the email. I wish you success in your endeavor and you can thank the person who wrote the email since I probably wouldn’t be making a donation to the Michael Listnow Respite Center if it wasn’t for him.

  • http://www.dfj.com Warren

    Brad, good luck on Monday! It’s terrific that Boston accepts runners who are philanthropic, in addition to those who are elite.

  • Tom M

    I’ve covered the spectrum of integrity on Boston. 22 years ago I ran as a bandit (while actually a fraternity mate of Brad’s) and then got it in my head a few years ago to do another marathon and qualify for Boston. After a few false starts with injuries (trying accelerated training programs in and amongst family & work busy-ness) I made it by the skin of my teeth and am thrilled to be running.

    But charity runners are totally legit as well … this is a great innovation by the race directors to solve the demand to run Boston by directing money to worthy causes. The only thing that isn’t fair game is what I did years ago, adding to the already large crowds, drinking the gatorade, using the port-a-johns … but not being an official entrant.

    If someone who qualified is upset by charity runners, they should complain to the BAA, not those who choose an option offered by the BAA. But before complaining, think harder. The charity system cuts down on bandits because it gives those who don’t qualify another option — raise money (and asking friends for donations is way harder than training), or make out a large personal check to a charity. Fewer people are bandits now as they realize it is an admission of laziness, hence the charity system benefits those who qualified, the charity runners, and the deserving charities.

    Have a great race, Brad, it’s all good.

  • MB

    Brad, sorry to continue this bummer thing but do you think that the person who emailed you wanted to take this public? If they did, wouldn’t they have put it in the comments?

    Do you really need a bunch of us validating your charity/marathon participation?

    Just curious, this entry was very unfeldian and more dear diary-ish.

  • http://www.freddiedaniells.typepad.com Freddie Daniells

    blimey – i am surprised by this. I ran the London marathon a few years back. In London the vast majority of runners are charity runners. Indeed I would as far as to say that it the sense of charity is what makes the day so special. Brad – I would not be put off by this. Enjoy your day and the wonderful experience. PS Try adding London to the list – you won’t regret it!

  • http://www.rosenblum.info/gogo Joe Rosenblum

    Just wanted to voice my support Brad – hope you had a great run. That commentary was completely out of line.

  • http://avc.blogs.com fred

    you have to have thick skin to blog

    emails and comments like that are tough to take

    but posting the email and your response is very cathartic and its worked well for me too over the years

    good luck tomorrow

  • Joseph Kibur

    Hey Brad,
    You may remember me back in the days of Sage Networks and NetNation. I have been following your blog for the past 12 months and this is the first time I am commenting. After reading the email you received regarding Boston Marathon, I was compelled to say something. First of all from the brief time I have known you, I can say that you are definitely not the “back-door” kind of guy. I would say you are a straight shooter that likes to get directly to the bottom of things. Second, the Boston Marathon is not only for “qualified” or “elite” athletes. It is a multi-purpose marathon, one of them being to help charities. As such they allow “non-qualified” athletes to participate and help charities raise funds and get visibility. I would imagine that a charity would prefer the participation of a less talented runner (not that you are less talented) if it means he/she can raise more money than the faster runner.

    Anyways, Good luck with the Marathon, and if you ever feel like 50 marathons in 10 years is not enough, come up to Canada for a few more

    Joseph

  • http://chrisyeh.blogspot.com Chris Yeh

    Brad,

    I think your response is well-reasoned, but I couldn’t help but think that this is the sort of thing that you could resolve in a private email.

    Yes the person who wrote in was a bit of a jerk about it, but it seems like he/she was under the impression that you had been bragging about pulling strings to get into the marathon. Obviously, this was incorrect, but was publicly posting the email and shaming them (however anonymously) the right thing to do?

    If you pointed out the misunderstanding, and the person still refused to apologize, then you’d be perfectly justified in whatever you did.

    And if you didn’t take the time to do this because you were hurt by the initial email, well, we’re all only human.

    But even if you were hurt, are you better off now having burned that bridge with that reader?

  • http://www.livingdocs.com Dan

    Brad,

    As a fellow �runner� of three marathons (4:06 best), lives in Colorado and the spouse of someone who just joined the Fifty states club recently (little rock), I can say that �running�
    The boston marathon IS about qualifying and I wondered how it was that “you got in”. I think the problem Here is that you are using a �Marketing Loophole� to fill a Running accomplishment. This is not to say that you shouldn�t Enjoy your run (or feel guilty) but I would be really interested if you posed this
    Question to the fifty states club and John Bingham. I would suspect That the very supportive and inclusive nature of these groups would be such that �they don�t care�, but this kind of thing can strike a nerve in parts of the running community.

    See you in Billings and elsewhere.

    Dan

  • http://www.sabreean.com Constance Reader

    May I say, as someone who is supporting/partnering her closest friend as he trains for the Las Vegas marathon this December, that I have increased respect for someone who runs such a race in support of a charitable organization he believes in. I take issue with your commenter who seems to believe that only those who would run for personal glory are worthy of the Boston Marathon.

    For myself, I am partnering/supporting him not on foot but on wheels, and perhaps will be able to join Lance Armstrong in the Ride for the Roses in October. Well, sort of join him — no way I’m riding the full century!

  • Comm Ave Dweller

    Dan, with respect to your statement “The boston marathon IS about qualifying”, it is for the organizers of the Boston Marathon to decide whether the Boston Marathon is exclusively defined by qualifying. The BAA has obviously decided otherwise. The Boston Marathon is about ALOT of things for ALOT of different people. Your definition does not need to exclude others’ definitions.

    As someone who lives on the course at mile 26, I can say that I love the marathon despite the headaches it causes me; for the leaders who whip by after 2 hours, the avid marathoners who come by after 3 hours and especially for the large number of folks who struggled by after 5 hours as I contemplated my dinner plans.

  • Dan

    I am the individual who sent the original e-mail to Brad. I do agree with the above posts that my e-mail could have been more positive in nature, and that I do have a chip on my shoulder due to the fact that I have not yet met my qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon. But the posts here are from nice friends who, while being supportive, are not seeing the whole picture, thus they are not nesessarily helping the situation either. As a contributer to charitable causes, Brad belonged in the race yesterday. As a runner, I question his readiness to be there. One only has to look at the results to see this.

    In his e-mail response to me, Brad stated that he is a 4:05:00 marathoner, and I believe him. Brad ran a 5:07:40 yesterday. The good news is that he met the time standard and can run next year’s Boston Marathon…if he was 80 years or older! (Or a 75-79 year old female) Did anyone tell him that they use a stopwatch to time that race, not a calendar? Seriously, you can’t chalk up an hour difference off your PR to having a bad day. He was not ready for Boston and it showed.

    Brad finished in 18,934th place. 19,688 people finished the race. These numbers matter to runners, and they should.

    The Boston Marathon uses time qualification standards for a reason. It certainly is not to cultivate the next group of elite runners. The time standard is difficult but fair. It encourages runners to commit at a slightly higher level than the weekend warrior to meet this standard. Metrics such as Boston’s time standard should mean something to people like Brad. Although I’ve never met or talked to him, he is obviously a type A, driven individual. Trust me, with a 4:05 PR, he is not happy with his performance yesterday in Boston.

    No one can argue that accepting and running with a charity number is not operating within the official framework. I think they are a good think for certain members of the population. But some purists, who are probably in the minority, but still type A, might disagree that it is the right way for a healthy, 40 year old man to enter and run the Boston Marathon.

    One way of understanding this is to examine the way Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. He entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .3996. This would have been rounded up to .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. His manager left the decision whether to play up to him. Williams opted to play in both games of the day’s doubleheader and risk losing his record. He got 6 hits in 8 at bats, raising his season average to .406; no one has hit .400 since.

    In other words, Williams could have sat out the last two games and still hit.400, and this would be operating within the “official” framework. He knew it was the wrong way to do it, and Ted did it the right way.

    At the end of the day, I applaud anyone who has the commitment to physical fitness that Brad Feld demonstrates. If more people in the United States were as active as he is, we would be much better off in so many different ways. But I think he is selling himself short. I do think he could qualify for Boston by the time standard. There are many other marathons out there to run, and I think he should have saved Boston for that day.

    And if he can’t qualify for Boston, then I think his coach is stealing money from him by encouraging a silly goal of 50 marathons in 50 states. Brad could be training and competing at many other distances, such as the 10K and the half marathon. These distances are run on the international competitive level, and as such are respected distances. He would be more competitive at these distances in all 50 states, and might even win a few age-group categories along the way. In other words, he could be successful not only as a participant, but as a competitor. Most importantly, he would not have another day like yesterday in Boston, which will not be one of his best running experiences. The charity had a successful day, but as a runner, Brad was in over his head and it showed.

  • Dave Jilk

    Just another angle on this from someone who’s not a runner…

    Marathons are not just races, they are major events. If they were merely races, only the top 100 or 200 people would be allowed to run, because they’re the only ones who have a chance to “win” the race. The “qualifying” time would be about 2:15 for men. How many of these self-righteous jokers could meet the qualifying time in that case?

    Further, in general it is not the case that marathons or other races limit their participation. They have only had to do this in recent years because of logistical challenges. When it’s necessary to limit participation, you need a standard for this limitation. There are any number of reasonable ways to do this – best qualifying times, charitable donations, random lottery. The BAA is apparently aware that the Marathon is an event, not just a race, and that a large charitable component is more in the spirit of the event than letting in a few more runners who “qualify” in some arbitrary sense (again, there is no chance they’ll win).

    This is all just the “line drawing game” – clearly your writer has drawn his line somewhere other than where the BAA (the only people who really matter in this issue) does.

  • Dan

    The BAA never wanted to use arbitrary measures to limit their field. Their original intention was to create a difficult but fair time standard that uses demonstrated performance that most dedicate athletes can reach for qualification. The Boston Marathon’s reputation was built, in large part, on this differentiating quality. I’m not drawing a line, the BAA did. My opinion is that people who could qualify by the time standard, but choose to contribute to a charity instead, diminish the reputation of this marathon. Maybe that’s fine. Maybe that’s where it is headed. I’d like to think that it won’t.

  • http://www.livingdocs.com the other Dan

    After reading through the above comments, I think it might help to understand why
    Boston is different. For every other marathon, finishing in 6 hours gives you just
    As much right to say �I ran the race� as someone who finished in 3 hours. Even the
    runner who wrote the criticism would be the first to say �way to go!�. Running is
    not a elitism sport and one of the great thing about a distance race is that anybody
    can run against an Olympian and then say with a smile, �I lost by a mile, literally�.

    Boston however, is different and the BAA works hard to keep it that way. From its
    Web site you get:

    “To qualify for the 110th Boston Marathon, athletes must meet the designated time
    standard which corresponds to their age group. Qualifying times must be run after
    September 25, 2004. Seeding is based on qualifying times, which are subject to review
    and verification. All participants must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the B.A.A.,
    USA Track and Field or foreign equivalent, International Paralympic Committee, Wheelchair
    Sports, USA, Disabled Sports, USA, and the United States Association for Blind Athletes.
    Qualifying times must be met in competitions observing these same rules. Proof of
    qualification must accompany the application. Participants must be 18 years or older
    on race day.”

    And these qualifying time are tough. They put you in somewhere in the top 5% of your
    age group. It’s purpose IS to separate the “Women from the girls” and the “Men from
    the boys”. For the longest time is was the only major marathon not to offer prize money
    because being to say “I ran Boston” was reward enough. It’s the reason Tom M had a
    “tell tale heart” experience and had to work his butt off to get legit. And it’s why
    Johns “legend in his own mind” comment “I could probably qualify for Boston” means
    diddly-squat. It’s also why the premium for a charity runner can be so high (2500 or more).
    For many marathons across the US, being a qualifying event for Boston is a BIG deal and for
    most runners getting identified as qualifier for Boston is more important than winning the event.

    So, unlike NYC, Chicago, LA, Paris, London, Tokyo or any other of the “second rate” ;)
    marathons around, the phrase “I ran boston” and “I got to run boston as a charity runner”
    are not interchangable.

    No, it’s not the masters or world series, but get together a bunch of runners, and the one
    who can say “I ran Boston” will get the same kind of awe and respect as Kevin Costner did
    on the Duhram Bulls bus when he said “Yeah I was in the show for 21 glorious days”. To
    say “I Ran Boston” and not to qualify, is like saying I played in a PGA tournament against
    Tiger, Phil and the boys and not mentioning it was a PRO-AM Celeb and you were the VP of
    marketing for a sponsering company. Failing to do so diminishes the efforts of all the
    “moonlight grahams” and jimmy “the rookie” morris runners out there who view heart-break
    hill as the crowning moment of a very long and difficult journey.

    I have no doubt that Brad never purposely would say or do anything to diminish those efforts and
    he is certainly open of his charity status. But the “I’m connected, I get to run Boston (and you don’t)”
    message was there even if totally unintended.

    As for the “waddle on crowd” the worst Brad is going to get is “that lucky (rich) Bas..” I wish
    I could do Boston for my Mass.

    PS. John get out there and start doing those twentys, what else have you got going on sat morning!

  • Eric

    I only started reading this blog recently, and it is the only one that I read. I am a little irritated by Dan’s comment that Brad’s run is illegitimate. Aside from the charity route, you can also receive an invitational number from the BAA. BAA gives out these numbers to corporate sponsors (e.g. Adidas, Belmont Spring Water, John Hancock, etc.) and to regional running related organizations such as running clubs and running specialty stores. My running club received two numbers which we gave out to our members through a lottery.

    I received an invitational number and ran in the marathon yesterday. Should I not run the race because I didn�t qualify, even though BAA gave it to me? All invitational runners (no matter how fast or slow), including charity runners, have to line up behind qualified runners, and did not affect runners that earned the right to be there the old fashioned way. I find Dan�s comment rather hurtful and elitist. Running is an individual sport. Your personal achievements do not depend on other people. My finish time of 3:15 or 7:15 does not diminish your success. There are many things in life that you can be bitter about, like how you buy the latest iPod only to find out the next day that Apple is coming out with a new one. Being bitter about charity runners is just petty. In the end, we all have to run the same 26.2 miles (and then some for the folks that lined up half a mile behind you, but we�re not bitter about it).

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    Dan – for someone that doesn’t know me, you proport to know a lot about what I’m thinking and feeling. I encourage you to check your assumptions in the future. I’ll comment on the things you said that are just false.

    1. “The comments are from friends.” While some of the comments are from friends, many of them are from people I don’t know who happen to read this blog.

    2. “I’m a 4:05 marathoner.” My PR is 4:05. I’ve run seven marathons – ranging from 4:05 to 5:07. The last three (11/05, 1/06, and 4/06) have been between 5:00 and 5:07.

    3. “18,934 place matters to runners.” I consider myself a runner. I don’t care what place I come in – my goal was to finish and to run the entire way, which I did, except for 30 second stops at each water stop to get gatorade / water.

    4. “Although I’ve never met or talked to him, he is obviously a type A, driven individual. Trust me, with a 4:05 PR, he is not happy with his performance yesterday in Boston.” I’m delighted with my performance yesterday. My goal was to come in around 5 hours. I’ve run three marathons in the last six months. I never recovered well from the Miami Marathon at the end of January – I’ve had several colds and have generally been tired. My goal was to finish.

    5. “And if he can’t qualify for Boston, then I think his coach is stealing money from him by encouraging a silly goal of 50 marathons in 50 states.” I am ecstatic with my coach. Before I hired him I discussed my goals of running a marathon in every state by the time I turned 50. That’s what he is helping me do. He also trains world class runners that not only qualify for Boston but might even place in the top 10. He encouraged me to run Boston as a charity runner – he was enthusiastic about it and thought it would be a great experience.

    6. “He could be successful not only as a participant, but as a competitor.” I am only competing with myself when I run – I have no interest in competing with other people.

    7. “The charity had a successful day, but as a runner, Brad was in over his head and it showed.” I don’t have any idea what you mean by this other than to insult someone you don’t know. I expected to finish around 5 hours and I did. When I passed through Wellesley at 13 miles there were hundreds of Wellesley Women cheering us on. As I clomped up Heartbreak Hill, the Newtonites were out in force cheering on those of us in the back of the pack. As I ran up Boylston, I had a great rush from the crowd. Every official BAA person I encountered cheered me on and then congratulated me after I finished.

    They even gave me a finisher medal since I made it in under the six hour cutoff time.

  • Todd

    To the �Dan� who posted the original message�

    Not to beat a dead dog, but I just read your post and it irked me enough to write this response. I grew up in Boston and lived there most my life. The marathon was an annual ritual where a bunch of us would get together and cheer on the runners. We didn�t care if you �qualified� or were taking the �charity backdoor� � only that you were participating in the event and surrendering your mind, body, and soul for the afternoon. I truly don�t understand why it matters that Brad finished in 18,934th place out of 19,688 people. He finished! How does his �readiness� or a higher finish give his running for charity more credence? Would it make you feel better if Brad had a twisted ankle or another undisclosed injury? Also, who the heck are you to tell him, or anyone else, what type of marathons to run in the future? The world would be a better place if people were healthier, but also more self-reflective and compassionate to one another�.

    Speaking of Ted Williams he didn�t play the doubleheader because it was the �right� thing to do, but rather his immensely huge ego demanded it. Personally, I think Larry Bird sitting an entire 4th quarter to avoid getting the first quadruple double ever is more admirable�again, a matter of opinion and not �right� or �wrong��.

  • Zach Mann

    Brad congrads on finishing without major cramps! Let me know when you plan on running a marathon in Kansas.

  • Joseph Kibue

    Dan’s comment above reminds me of when I represented Canada in the Junior Pan American games in 1989. Prior to the competition I was ranked 1st with a time of 14:12 for the 5K. At the competion however, I was sick and ended up in last place a whole minute slower than my PB. .

    One of my “team mate” came up to me and said “you embarrased my country…shame on you”. Obviously the comment caught me off guard. I was expecting some support, or even “congratulations for finishing the race even though you were not feeling well”.

    Several times during the race, I was tempted to quit, but I decided that I should not quit no matter how painful the experience was. Like wise, Brad finishing the race in 5:07 and still having a positive attitude should be an inspiration for the millions of people in America. I personally know a lot of people that would not participate because they are afraid of finishing in the back of the pack.

    Keep up the great attitude, and don’t be distracted by an extreme view.

    Joseph

  • Dan

    I’m 38, and I grew up with the Boston Marathon being the premier marathon in the world. When you saw someone wearing a Boston Marathon shirt, it really meant something. I now have to understand that it does not mean as much as it once did.

    Charity numbers are indeed a great way to raise money for wonderful, deserving organizations. Unfortunately, they also allow people like Brad who do the bare minimum – just enough in training and preparation to get them to the finish line, to run the Boston Marathon. The net result is positive for the charity, but tarnishes the reputation of the Boston Marathon.

    The difference between Brad and Joseph above, is that Joseph was ready for his race. He put in the requisite training program and worked extremely hard. He just had a bad day. Joseph didn’t train at the bare minimum to get to the finish line, and he had a good attitude going into the race.

    Brad states above that he just does not care. You are right – I certainly don’t know you. But everything else you post on this blog suggests that you do care. About everything. Deeply! Regardless, before charity numbers were distributed, you never saw “don’t’ care” attitudes at the Boston Marathon. There has been a change, and I guess I have to get used to it.

    You are a 4:05 marathoner, because that is what you are capable of. Training 30 miles a week won’t get you there. Setting a 5 hour goal for yourself when you are capable of running faster won’t get you there. Lining up with a “don’t care” attitude certainly won’t get you there. Does your coach encourage that attitude as well?

    Runners World ran a story last month about a DOG that ran a 3:24 at Philadelphia last year. You are right about one thing – they gave you that finishers medal. I’m not convinced that you earned it.

  • Chris

    Now I’m not one to usually resort to name calling, and I’ll do what I can to bite my tongue here, but when I read all this, all I can think is “What a major prick this guy is” (and in case that’s not clear, I’m not referring to Brad).

    Whether the vitriol being spewed by this one individual is a result of an elitist runner’s attitude or his not getting enough hugs as a kid I don’t know, but it’s unfortunate that one person feels its his right to treat another as less than a human being (especially when it’s an attack launched in private, where Dan’s family, friends and co-workers can’t see and reflect on this aspect of his personality).

    I can’t think of anyone that would view 1) legitimately (according to the rules set forth by the organizers) completing a marathon, regardless of time while 2) supporting a worthwhile charity and 3) doing absolutely nothing to diminish overall global happiness (other than apparently the happiness of the aforementioned vitriol-spewer) as anything less than a very significant accomplishment. I wouldn’t dare call you a “loser” for finishing as #18,934 any more than I’d call an extreme marathoner a loser for not qualifying to be a marathon runner in the Olympics.

    It’s a fact that some people just aren’t happy in life. Don’t worry, it’s not your responsibility to make them happy. Nor should it diminish your happiness that they can’t find it on their own.

    Brad, you’ve run 7 more marathons than I have (or ever will) and I’m in awe of that accomplishment as well as your goal of 50.

  • http://www.domainmn.com Craig M.

    Do you have any photos to post?

  • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

    I will once they put the ones up from the race up on the web.

  • dave

    Not sure anyone reads this far down, but I am compelled to offer my own two pesos.

    as a marathoner myself, i have great reverence for Boston. it is, to most marathoners, the superbowl, the world series, the final four, and the stanley cup finals all rolled into one. honestly. it has transcended.

    that being said, the argument that mr. Feld backdoored his way into Boston is LUDICROUS. now i, along with countless others, believe that running Boston without a number and bragging about it is an offense punishable by public flogging and ridicule. for shame. you should not breed. no one should be forced to carry on your horrible genetics. (i have personally emailed the BAA and asked for a ban on the subject of this article: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=127825&format=&page=2)

    HOWEVER!, donating time, money and resources to charity is a feat that should be revered and rewarded by every human being on the planet. rewarded with respect and honor, and with entry into the Boston Marathon (as decreed by the BAA!).
    one of your readers was correct when they stated that the Boston Marathon was no longer just a race, but an event. and, as i have said, it has transcended. it has done so in large part due to the fact that it has generated such an incredible about of _good_ by allowing charity based entries.

    Waddle On!, Brad! Keep on truckin. Amen for 51 (please don’t forget DC (my home)) before 50. Billings will be quite a gem for you in Big Sky, however a bit on the brutal side.

  • Dan

    To Chris above…I didn’t call Brad a loser – you did! Why not focus on the positive if you truly believe what you are writing?!

    In my line of work, we have a lot of people donating a lot of money. We try to match those people up with the recipients as much as possible, for many reasons. Imagine if we matched up Brad with his charity, which as you know, is a house that provides emotional and physical support for families with children with disabilities.

    Announcer: “And this is Brad Feld, Kids. Brad’s set a goal of 5 hours for this marathon, and succeeded in flying colors, finishing more than an hour over his PR of 4:05. He was able to accomplish this training just 30 miles a week! The key to this training is Brad’s stated philosophy: he just doesn’t care how he does! Kids, let’s try to be more like Brad Feld!”

    Brad feels good about himself because he donates money to this charity, which is relatively easy for him to do, to accept his entry into the race. What he and most of you don’t seem to understand is that there is a larger issue associated with this – it doesn’t stop with writing a check. If Brad met those children and their families a year before the marathon, and kept in touch with them along the way, do you think he would have run 1:02 beyond his PR with a “don’t care” attitude? Did he backdoor into the marathon? Absolutely not! Did he go about this the right way????

    You guys can make Brad into a hero if you wish. I will look to people like Margaret Tinsley, a 58 year old mother of three, no college degree, who qualified by the time standard, and finished 112 places in front of Brad. I’m going to start reading her blog instead!

  • Zach

    Have a nice day Dan. I can’t believe people are dogging on Brad considering how big of a goal he is aiming for. I guess just finishing 26+ miles isn’t enough now a days.

  • BC

    I really don’t understand the whole charity race idea. If you want to give money to a charity , give money to a charity. If you want to train and race a marathon, train and race a marathon. Last year at St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Pete Florida, a team in training member died. DIED. dead. heart attack.

    during the race. it’s not a joke. all I heard during the race was ‘go team’ for every fatass wearing purple. Whatever….I work hard to do my best on race day , and my best at marathon’s by the way is 4:12, slower than Brad.

    marathons and triathlons are NOT just something ANYONE can do.
    you have to earn it. oh you might get thru it and then tell the world you did it, big fricking deal.
    my wife is doing a danskin tri. she’s in a training group. there are fatsos in it who sit around and talk during pool sessions.

    the whole thing diminishes the meaning of these events. it makes me sick.
    that’s my opinon. like it or not.

  • Mike

    What’s the big deal? If the BAA allows charity runners, then they allow them. It’s not for semi-elite runners with axes to grind to decide whether this is a disgrace or not. The BAA allows it- that’s it. By the way, I’m a 3:00:00 marathoner, who has qualified for Boston three times and is planning to finally run it in ’07. And I got my start *Guess where…when I signed up to raise money for Team in Training, and run my first marathon.

  • http://www.vell.com Dal Coger

    Brad, I have to concur with all of your other readers in opposition to that one guy who found fault with using a charity to get a number; I feel that is a GREAT way to get a number and I have thought about doing that a number of times; Actually it is better than the traditional way since you benefit other people, notibly the charity recipients, instead of no one but yourself by raising money for the charity. That guy must have a chip on his shoulder or something; does he feel that the BAA should elimiate the charity runners and thus eliminate a sizable source of charity money for many eminantly worthy charities? Get a life, buddy!!!

    Dal Coger
    Medford, MA

  • Len

    I scanned the blog and have mixed feelings about how people respond to those running the marathon who didn’t meet the qualifying standard. This includes bandits and charity runners. For such a great race (I’ve yet to run it) does it seem fair to deny someone the experience? Do the bandits and charity runners cheapen the experience for those who have “earned” it? I’m going say “no”. I’m in my 40s and posted a 3:18 and change last year to get into the big show. Sure I trained, quite hard actually. I did my 20 milers staring at 5:00 AM on Sundays, etc. etc. and ran a good race at my qualifier on race day. I got in primarily because God gave me a body suited for running and kept me healthy when needed. It was hard work from me as well. However, there are others who have work harder and longer than I do at running that have not yet qualified and may never do so. It’s definitely not because of their dedication to the craft. Perhaps it’s valid for them to cry “not fair” to me when I train for 6 months, run my first marathon and then qualify. I say let the bandits have their fun at Boston. As long as they don’t take a finishers medal at the end there really is no harm. Charity runners are doing something much more productive for society than I am and I welcome their participation at all events. I think they’ve earned their finsiher’s medal ten times over.

  • John

    I am going to get flamed for this, but I have to say my peace.

    Brad, you didn’t run the Boston Marathon. You just paid for the privilege of thinking you did. Running the Boston Marathon means sacrificing months and months of free time and working really hard to get one’s body in shape to qualify for the standards required to QUALIFY for the race…yes, it is a race, not stroll through the park (they keep time for a reason).

    I don’t have a problem with charity runners per se. I think their philanthropy is noble. I just have a problem with them being at the Boston Marathon. In fact my issue isn’t with charity runners themselves. It’s with the B.A.A. who, in my opinion, is prostituting the race’s elite reputation to attract thousands of wannabes to pay for undeserved honor of saying they “ran the Boston Marathon”.

    So good for you and all the money you’ve raised over the years for some worthy charities. I just wish you would stay away from the race I literally give my blood, sweat and tears for every year, until you truly deserve to be there.

  • Andrew

    Searching the web for an easy qualifying marathon besides St. George and Steamtown, Google showed this blog string by mistake, but nonetheless, some of the comments captivated me, sufficiently for me to participate in such conversations for the first time ever…and probably the last. I will not come back again to see what else may be written, nor will I offer further comments.

    Boston is a unique experience. All runners qualified or not are awed by the quality of the field, and there is only one Robert Cheruiyot who won both 2006 (course record) and 2007. Negussie, who won in 2005, wore no. 6 this year and was found disoriented on the course; he did not finish due to the effects of hypothermia. Aside from the very few elite runners who win prize money, or the women this year for the championship, what do all the participants get out of the race?

    BAA has the answer, and that is in the question and message that is posted in all the literature and throughout Boston; it is about the “promise”, whatever it is the goal that each runner sets for himself or herself to participate in this road race (or any other race).

    As long as a runner understand his “promise”, it really doesn’t matter how fast he runs, or whether or not he qualifies. I train runners to go 26 miles to benefit a local charity, and we have Boston experience and participants on the verge of BQ (that is why I was seaching the web for easy BQ marathons), as well as folks who tax their limits just to do a half. The effort that goes into training and qualifying can not be understated, and it is heart breaking to see a runner missing BQ just by one second. For everyone in our group, a marathon is between the runner and himself, against his own clock, pitted against his own goals and objectives, the BAA “promise”.

    At the same time, we are trying to apply to be an official Boston charity although we are not hopeful of our chances since BAA has historically accepted only local charities rather than from out of state. We would love to receive the ten waivers that would probably mean about $30,000 of pledge commitments to our cause.

    With that said, I must say that I have not met a Boston marathoner who ran on a sponsor or charity waiver ever tried to hide that status. In fact, I have encountered apologetic clarifications, and that may be the powerful force that drove a friend to finally qualify at age 70 after having run Boston three times in his earlier years from the back.

    BAA has it figured out as the current marathon is actually three races in one: the first wave with bib numbers to 10999 consisting of largely sub 3:30 runners, the second wave of slower runners which at 3:30 would start to come in at race clock 4 hours after most first wave runners have already finished, and waiver runners in corral 20 in the back.

    As a post script, Boston times are typically slower than qualification times anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes for the average runner.

  • Andrew

    It just goes to show some people really have alot of time on there hands Brad. I think it's great what your doing and I use to be a very competitve runner in my days and I can tell you it take guts, courage, and dedication to run no matter how fast or slow you are. this is a life changing experience that you will never forget. The Boston Marathon is a special event. The BAA invites charaties for a reason and there apart of the event. As a matter of act Bill Rogers is running for a charity this year it goes to show you that running is a family no matter who you are.

    To the loser that wrote you this e-mail get a life.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      Andrew – thanks for the kind (and accurate!) words.

  • http://everestfire.net Michael Brown

    I have been trying to qualify for the Boston marathon for the last eight years. I just made it this spring 2009 with a 3;20.33. I qualified by 27 seconds. I am also Forty years old. I think you running the marathon for charity is absolutely fine! every runner knows that charities are a huge part of running. Helping people is a hell of lot more important then these extremely difficult qualifing standards. As Brad is looking around at all of us "Serious: runners he can pat himself on the back for contributing to a worthy charity. I say welcome aboard. were proud to have you.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      Thanks!  And congrats on qualifying – awesome!

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