Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Do “Slow” Runners Ruin Marathons?

Thanks for all of your enthusiasm about my upcoming trip/marathon. Shabbat shalom! Holy land here I come!

I got a comment on my last post – someone who considers herself a “slow” runner. She wondered if it bothered me to have slower runners in a race. She read some article awhile back about slower runners “ruining” races.

From the Google searching I have done, I think this must be the article she is referring to (New York Times, October 2009): Plodders Have a Place, But Is It in the Marathon?

{Disclaimer: I am not a fast runner. I am an average runner. I have good and bad races. My typical marathon time ranges from 3:40 to 4:00. That means I’m right in the middle of “fast” and “slow.”}

First of all, I’m not sure anyone – runner, walker or run/walker wants to be called a “plodder.” That sounds like someone who wears shoes that are too big and stomps down the street like a clumsy donkey. Certainly not someone who can cover 26.2 miles.

In the words of one cross country coach cited in the article: “It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours. It used to be that running a marathon was worth something — there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’” 

Hmmm…judgey at all?

Indeed average marathon times are getting slower as the overall number of marathoners increases. I attribute the rise in runners to marathon fever – running is infectious much like the flu. If you have a friend or family member who has the bug, you can quickly and unknowingly contract it too.

We also live in a country where we are constantly being reminded of how fat and unhealthy we are. Running a marathon is the ultimate “eff you” to being unhealthy. It represents choosing a goal and accomplishing something that was once thought to only be for the most elite of athletes.

If having the goal of running a marathon makes someone’s life better, then they should do it. Maybe it helps you lose weight or bring you out of the depths of depression. Perhaps you become a better parent or spouse when you take on the marathon goal. Maybe running and training for a marathon is the one thing that keeps you from taking that drink that would send you into a downward spiral.

Who are we to say what constitutes doing a marathon the right way? I don’t recall it being in the Bible or the Constitution that you had to RUN the entire marathon. You just have to cover the distance.

Yes, it it is assumed that marathons are to run, but why the hell do I even care? I have my own goals for my own race, which means to run the whole thing in a certain period of time. As long as I don’t have a million walkers blocking my way I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

Lastly, who is to say that just because you walk your first marathon and it takes you 6 hours, that you won’t one day run the whole marathon in 4 hours? We all have to start somewhere.

I have to wonder if “faster” runners feel the marathon is being watered down and made less of an accomplishment if some people choose to walk most of it. I stand by the fact that we all need to have our personal goals of what it means to accomplish the race. Just because Runner #1 finishes in 3 hours and Runner #2 finishes in 5 hours doesn’t mean they both didn’t accomplish something monumental.

That said, I don’t think finish lines should be open all day. There should be cut off times. Regardless of how fast you do it, I believe the marathon is supposed to be a push and the ultimate challenge throughout. With a time deadline, this “push” is encouraged.  Also, runners should be in the proper corral for their pace.

Just my .02¢

Do you think slower runners “ruin” marathons?

Where do you fall on the fast/slow spectrum?

What are your thoughts on cut off times?

SUAR

104 comments:

  1. Everyone has a place in a race. Everyone out there toeing the line that has the guts to try it should always have the opportunity. My first marathon was in 4:50 or so. If I wasn't aloud to run or people had problems with that I may never have run a 3:14 in Boston. My sister has come a long way as well, and another is just getting started moving along at 14min/mile...but she's doing it. She's getting healthy and finding out that she can do more than she thought she can. Get out there and try.This past weekend I volunteered at the USATF XC championship. There were Masters runners well into their 80's who were walking the course. That was inspiring. That's what it's all about.

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    Replies
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    2. My Name is Debbie Gibson, I'm very grateful to this man Dr Ultimate Spell Caster for helping me bring back my husband’ after he abandoned me for six months with pains and tears in my heart. Before the breakup, he usually insult and see nothing good in me and any thing i do, i felt as if i was cursed. my friends advised me to let go but i couldn’t because of the love i have for him. So i had to seek for help and i saw so many good testimonies about this man Dr Ultimate and i decide to contact him and explain my problem to him and he assured me of good result.After two days of my contact with Dr Ultimate my husband came back with apologies. Today i am also sharing my testimonies and experience about Dr Ultimate which is so wonderful and i will never stop publishing his name so that who ever that is going through breakup and problem in their relationship should also contact him { ultimatespellcaster4@gmail.com } Site: http://ultimatespellcaste.wix.com/mysite

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      Delete
  2. I don't think that "slow" runners ruin marathons either. I've never run a marathon myself, (yet), but even in other races, I don't feel that way. There is plenty of room in the running world for runners of all abilities. There are still the 'elite' races like Boston, where you sort of weed out the slower runners by having a qualifying time. If you are annoyed by slow runners, then seek out elite events and run those. I do agree that a cut off time is important for safety reasons. Volunteers (water stations, police, safety officials etc) should not be expected to wait all day for a few to finish.

    I am in the middle as well. I hope to finish 3:53 to qualify for Boston at my first marathon in May. We will see......

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  3. I'm running my first full next year. I think my question for those judging the back of the pack are: WTH do you care? You are running YOUR race and running it, obviously, very well. Why do you care there are "plodders." They are way behind you. And yes, I will most likely be a plodder. I'll most likely run 10-minute miles and yes, I'm losing a shit ton of weight to do this. But I'll still be a considered a plodder. But damnit, I'm going to do it. And yes, it's a bucket-item list. What's it to you? :)

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    1. And I do agree, there should be cutoff times. It's part of the "goal" of the entire day.

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    2. Good for you, Wendy! and FWIW, if you do a marathon in 10-minute miles (~ 4:30 finish), you will be right in the middle of the pack, not at the back! :)

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    3. Thanks! I have so much work to do in 11 1/2 months. But I'm very motivated.

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  4. I am not a "fast" runner. I think everyone has a goal in their mind on race day. Sometimes that goal is just to finish. Run, walk, crawl...whatever it takes. I have seen running change lives. It certainly changed mine. Despite the increase in the amount of people stepping across that start line, the percent of people who accomplish a marathon is still low. It takes a certain level of tenacity to make that happen. So, 5 or 6 hour marathoners deserve their accolades just as much as a "faster" runner. I'm not sure why some of the faster runners care. Again, each person has their own goal and someone crossing the finish line later doesn't change that. I do agree though that corrals are there for a reason. Line up accordingly. That way everyone has the best chance to tackle their goal. Also, congrats on your upcoming trip! How awesome!

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  5. I usually run marathons in the 3:20s. Most of my friends consider that to be fast. I don't think slower runners "ruin" marathons. Without the recent explosion in the number of people running marathons, many of the relatively new races wouldn't exist. I think each runner has to set his or her own goals. One person's easy pace is another person's PR. Most races need to have cut-off times, because they have to get permits from cities or parks. There's a limit to how long a city will allow streets to be closed, and keeping aid stations open longer means volunteers have longer shifts.

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  6. Having not actually run a full marathon yet, take my thoughts with a grain of salt. But I think there's a place for all of us - fast, slow, plodders. One runner's "fast" is another runner's "slow". I wholeheartedly agree with the use of corrals and staying in your correct one! As long as you're not stopping right in front of me to take a selfie, we're all good.

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  7. Articles and quotes like the one from that idiot just gives running (and runners) a bad reputation. And it often discourages people from even trying. I coach an all-female running group each fall, and I often hear "Well, I could never be a fast runner, so why bother?"

    It's not about pace. It's about covering the distance and accomplishing a goal and finishing the race upright, under your own power, within the time allowed. Anything past that is just style points.

    So kudos to those earning bonus style points on any given race day. But it shouldn't diminish the accomplishment of any other runner.

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  8. I agree that we all have to start somewhere, but that we should also challenge ourselves in races! I finished my first marathon last year at the very back of the pack, but that doesn't mean I want to stay there forever! I hope to improve my time this fall in Chicago. When I ran my first half marathon I was solidly back of the pack and in a year's time I've shaved off about 40 minutes from that original time. As long as we are all set in proper corrals I just don't see an issue! I mean I'm assuming even fast marathoners are bad at some things in life. I hope that does't stop them from doing those things if they enjoy them!

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  9. Unless you are world-class or vying for an age-group finish then you are competing with the clock, not with other runners! I, too am mid-pack (3:30-4:00 finish) and I couldn't care less about "slower" runners as long as they line up correctly at the start. It is annoying to have slower runners or walkers lining up near the front and having to weave around them in the first couple of miles. FWIW, I have qualified for Boston a number of times doing marathons with walk breaks. Does this mean I am not a true "runner"? I once heard a quote from a former world-class runner (Dick Beardsley, maybe??) that he was in awe of slower runners because there was "no way" he could be out there running that long. If you've covered the marathon distance within the stated rules of the race you are a marathoner, period. Doesn't matter what your time was or how you did it (walking running, or crawling)!

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  10. As long as everyone is in the right starting corral and there are reasonable cut-off times (so the streets can reopen so people can live their lives), the more the merrier!

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  11. As long as everyone is in the right starting corral and there are reasonable cut-off times (so the streets can reopen so people can live their lives), the more the merrier!

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  12. Slower runners don't affect me when I am in a race, any more than faster ones, unless the slower ones have been so inconsiderate as to start too close to the front. Good luck to anyone who wishes to run, any distance. However, if you want to walk 26.2 miles you should not take a place in a Marathon that a runner wants: after all, the accepted definition of a Marathon is that it is a running race. Also, think of the volunteers who have to remain on the course until the last participants come through: once my local Marathon had three entrants who set off at a walk from the start, took cigarette breaks along the way, and had stopped to buy lunch when a race official told them that the course couldn't be kept open for ever. I'm sure we all respect anyone who's prepared to try, but if you're not going to do that please leave the races for others!

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    1. Oh that's ridiculous. Now THAT behavior gives the plodders a bad name. Heck, they aren't even plodders, they are race jerks.

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    2. Many marathons (New York City Marathon, LA, Portland, Disney, Marine Corps, to name a few) have time limits in the 7-8 hour range, which is walking pace. By definition, these races are for anyone who can complete the race within the specified time limit - there is no mention of having to "run" in the rules. Who are we to say that anyone who can participate in the event according to the specified rules and conditions "shouldn't" do it??

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  13. No, they don't. It's nice if people line up according to their real potential finish time, as opposed to their dream time, but dodging slower runners is part of the game, just as drafting off another runner is.

    I am slow. Really slow. Slower than that. I would probably pee myself with excitement if I did a sub 5 hour marathon.

    There are many more factors going into a cut off time than the number of racers. There is a real cost to closing streets, traffic direction, permits, and who knows what else. I say a race director should say what kind of a race they are running, and live with the entry results. Boston sets a qualifying standard. I'll never make it, but good for them. Want to run an elite race with an even faster qualifying time? Fill your boots. You want to close the race at 4 hours? Just say so first so people know what they are getting into. If it's an all day festival thing, fill your boots there too.

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  14. I'm a an average marathoner (3:46-4:00) and no, I don't think that slow runners "ruin" marathons. But I think the key word there is "run." To me, running a marathon should be RUNNING a marathon. It probably won't win me any fans, but if you walk more than half the distance then I don't think you can fairly say you "ran" a marathon.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, because there isn't. I have friends who are faster than me and slower than me and it is a huge accomplishment to set that goal and run any distance - not just marathon. It is all about personal achievement and individual goals. Running a 3:46 was really hard for me, just like running a 4:30 is really hard for someone else.

    But just make it a RUN.

    (That being said, I don't know how anyone walks 26.2 miles. When I was injured I walked a 4 mile fun run and it SUCKED to be out there walking for an hour and twenty minutes. Just. Sucked.)

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  15. It's kind of like saying that some people shouldn't get an education because they aren't as smart as others and therefore water it down for everyone else. It's ridiculous. The more people participating in races, the more money going into events, the more money for new technology in gear, the more healthy people around. All positives. Like you said, if the walkers don't get in my way in a race, then I'm 100% behind anyone who wants to participate.

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  16. This whole topic makes me angry. I think that it's an individual sport, that there are runners of all shapes and sizes and paces, and I think that one article probably had backlash that it totally deserved!!
    Walkers are everywhere, and slow runners are everywhere and I've never had anyone impact my race because they're too slow. You just go around them. And you say "keep up the good work" because you know they're trying their very best, just like you are. Run your own race. Stop judging. Enjoy it!

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  17. I hope not. if I ever do one, I will be slow. And you are NOT SLOW!!!

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  18. I'm beyond slow, I'm fine with it, but it's also the reason I have no desire to do a marathon. The amount of time it would take me, even if I run is longer than I really want to be running or even run/walking. Do I think I would "ruin" a marathon? Nope! Races have cutoffs, if I can't make them I specifically do not participate in that race and I don't think that those races I do participate in are "ruined" my by fat, slow ass.

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  19. I don't think more slower runners ruin anything for anyone. As someone who is way slow (Marathon PR of 4:49) we have a right to be out there competing with ourselves just as much as the speedies.

    I can respect marathon cut off times - as someone in the comments said, closing streets costs money and marathon volunteers are out there for a LONG time. But PLEASE! If you say your cut off time is 6 hours and I finish in 5:30, there damn well better be a finish line when I get there. It SUCKS to finish well within the range and have them taking shit down when I get there. SUCKS. And it's happened to me often - we already have to deal with them being out of stuff by the time we cross the line...we expect it at times. But don't make us feel like our finish doesn't count.

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    1. Oh my God, yes!!! It is so disheartening to be getting close to finishing a big race, and see the volunteers and spectators packing things up and looking bored and ready to go home. Trust me when I say, I put in MANY long hours on my feet, trained and sacrificed and suffered for this, and just because my best ends up being a 4:30 marathon time-- doesn't make it any less of an accomplishment than someone who is a 3:30 marathoner. I hate feeling embarrassed about being "slow" when I should be rejoicing that I finished!!

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  20. Everyone here seems to have the right attitude. Runner's who associate racing with a particular speed lack empathy and are narcissistic dicks. Speed is relative. I think of myself as a runner, therefore I am a runner. I do put emphasis on my pace, but it's personal. And when I run road races, unless it's only a 5K, and even at that distance, I don't expect to run all of it hard. I'm really happy if I get into a race mode at a fast clip for a few miles of a 10K or marathon. I don't need to race hard the entire event to be satisfied.

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  21. I'm a slow runner (marathon PR - 4:53) but I try to stay out of faster runners way. That being said, let me tell you about the Honolulu Marathon: They have no cutoff time, no cutoff number of participants, and no corrals. I knew it was going to be crowded, but I had no idea just how slow those first miles would be. So many stops and starts, trying to get around people who were there just to walk and take selfies (but no smoke breaks.) This could easily be corrected if the organizers would have corrals. They have signs that say give finishing time ranges (3:00-4:00, 4:00-5:00) but they're a joke.

    Did it ruin the race for me? No. I ran it knowing I hadn't done enough speed work, so it wasn't going to be a PR. But I'm sure there were people that were very disappointed. If they were going for a PR, they were going to have to work hard to make some time up if they got caught behind walls of walkers like I did.

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  22. I am slow compared to some of my friends and fast compared to others. Meh... I'm the speed my legs will take me. If someone told me to my face that I ruined their race I would [1] feel bad for a moment for being judged, and then [2] I'd get over it by taking a dump on their windshield and smearing my finish time in it so they can see how "crappy" my time was all the way home. (I can be snarky like that). Seriously though, I don't think slow people ruin races. I also don't think fast people signify the epitome of the race either. I think cut off times are important for safety and race logistics. But aside from that, line up properly and have fun. I happen to think some of the runners pulling up the backfield are often working harder that the speedsters.

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  23. You know, I've read several similar articles lately and I don't know who these elitest runners are writing this drivel. I'm a slow runner. So what??? I am in my correct corral, doing MY thing, not in their way, so why do they even CARE? What right do these writers have to judge or belittle anyone's effort but their own? It ticks me off that their attitude might discourage someone from getting out there and trying. What ticks me off even more is that I am friends with plenty of faster runners and even some really fast podium-type runners, and not one of them has ever been ANYTHING but encouraging to me. For that matter, I have had the honor of meeting and chatting with Meb Keflezighi on a couple of occasions, and he congratulated me on a half marathon finish time that was slower than his marathon finish time!! Bottom line, there are always going to be runners slower than you. And faster, too. You have to run your own race and let everybody else run theirs. (I DO agree that people should seed themselves in the right corrals and follow runner etiquette at races, though. Run your race but DO be considerate!)

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  24. As a "slower" runner (trying to beat my PR of a 5:00 marathon), I also believe there is a place for everyone, but that people should definitely be realistic about their times/goals, make sure that they are in the right corrals so that faster runners can accomplish their goals, and that there should be appropriate cut off times. However, for anyone who says that finishing a marathon in 5, 6, or plus hours is anything less than a HUGE accomplishment, I'd have a few choice words for them because training for a marathon is training for a marathon. If you put in the time, effort, miles, blood, sweat and tears into training for a marathon, who is ANYONE to minimize that for anyone else? I hold no illusions that I will ever be crazy fast, but I have steadily improved my times over the years and I've put in the training and time to do so. It's quite hurtful to think that someone would think that I don't "belong" in a marathon because I'm not super speedy. :( I trained for my first marathon with the Galloway method and as I because a more experience runner, I was able to transition into running just about the whole thing with some recovery walk breaks - it's what works for me.

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    1. Amen! And honestly, I don't see how anyone doing something miles and miles behind you has anything to do with your race. But saying that your own hard work and months of training are somehow minimized by the product of someone else's hard work and months of training is shallow and makes you sound like a dick. (Not you obviously, Marisa, but the author of the article.)

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  25. I think anyone who wants to try a marathon should be able to do so. Even if your goal is to walk/ jog it in 6 hours that's still way more exercise than *most* people get in a day. I do think there should be cutoff times and I think people should be honest in there estimated finishing times when being placed into a corral. I am not speedy, but I do my races running and I hate from the get go having to pass a bunch I people who are walking and look like they had no intention to not walk.

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  26. Runners who line up appropriately and consider cutoff times when registering don't ruin anything.

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  27. "Lastly, who is to say that just because you walk your first marathon and it takes you 6 hours, that you won’t one day run the whole marathon in 4 hours? We all have to start somewhere." This is me. I ran my first marathon in 6:07:49. I am now aiming to run #5 in less than 4 hours, on my way to an eventual BQ. I almost run twice as fast as I did when I first started. Running that first marathon inspired me in numerous ways, and I've gone from a casual runner to trying to be a real contender (at some distances and trail races). There's room for everyone. Thank you for this post!

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    1. Congratulations on your hard work! My first was 5:50:24 and I'm on track to break 5 hours next month. My goal is to one day BQ so I love hearing stories like yours!

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  28. I wholeheartedly agree! It makes me sad that some people think that you shouldn't run a marathon if you don't meet a certain cutoff time. I work at a running store and one of my favorite parts of the job is helping people get active who never thought that they could run X distance. Marathons are for everyone!

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  29. I agree with the "I don't care what anyone else does" mindset. I'm a fast runner but, like you, as long as the walkers and slower runners line up where they're supposed, I couldn't care less!

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  30. As a very slow runner I think there is a place for us in any and every race. It is on the right hand side so the faster runners can pass. When I am running (I have done 7 half marathons but no full marathons) I stay to the right unless I am passing someone. I also agree with a cut off time. If I am not fast enough for a race, then that is something for me to strive for. Some day I hope to run a full, but if the cut off time is 6 hours or less, I'm not sure I would be able to finish.

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  31. I've run 2 hours and both took me 5+ hours. I ran them - took only walk breaks at the water stops - but I run slow. So what? I ran my own race and am happy for anyone who covers 26.2. As an aside, I volunteered at a water stop at mile 17 of the NYC Marathon last fall and saw the whole race -- from the elites to the walkers at the end. There is inspiration to be found in all.

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    1. UGH - sorry, should say, I've run two marathons.

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  32. I understand cutoff times because race directors have to get street closure permits. The times are usually very generous.
    But all speeds should be welcome to race providing they can complete the distance in the set time.
    I'm a middle pace runner too...3:40.

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  33. I'm not a fast runner and I believe all who want to participate should be able to, but races need to do a better job of communicating the importance of lining up in your correct corral.

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  34. I am not fast but I do get perturbed when people walk the entire race. Nothing like weaving around groups of walkers. I have had to walk a bit during some races due to injury or stomach issues. But if people want to walk the entire race then start after the runners and stay out of the way of us crabby oldsters!

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  35. Ouch, this topic struck a nerve. I do the Galloway thing, run/walk/run because it saves my knees like woah and allows me to actually run again. My last half was 2.5 hrs --so I'm slow, but the last thing I want to hear is that faster runners are whining about us. I train as much (it feels like more) as most runners. And I stick to the side of the road and start at the back of the pack so the zippies can go ahead. Whining about slow runners is like saying the higher number of female runners is bringing the marathon average pace down. WTH? Hm, logic much? I say tough cookies all around, let me run (or walk) my race as I can.

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    1. I'm in the same boat as you and just ran my first half 2.5. You would think if anything our slow times make the fast runners look faster! Instead of being in the top 15% of finishers, they might make that top 5% now thanks to us!

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  36. I am a middle of the pack runner also. And, I think it is wonderful that so many people want to experience the marathon, no matter what method they must use to get to the finish line. My only complaint is that when people line up incorrectly and walk on the left rather than the right, it makes it difficult for those of us who do need to pass. I ran RNR Vegas a couple of years back and, because of all the extra weaving, my watch recorded I had done over 27 miles! When doing 26.2, extra is not what your legs (or mind) want to be doing. So I say to all, go for it! (Just be courteous of those around you) Happy Running ALL!!!

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  37. I struggle with this thought a lot. I have never completed a marathon...I am actually registered for my first half marathon in a few months. Part of what always holds me back is that I am a "slow" runner. I have had personal battles with this for many years as many of my friends tend to be faster than me. The first question I had for my friend, whom I signed up with, was how fast should I finish this in? And, are there cut off times? I do believe there should be cut off times, more for the sake of the people and organizers who volunteer their time, but I believe the cut off times should be lengthy. I think it is enough pressure to finish any race in a given time (your own goals, PRs, what have you) and to think about not possibly making the cutoff time adds even more pressure. I also think that being a fast or a slow runner, everyone should be considerate of others. I always try to be conscious of people wanting to pass me. And I like what Barb said, "I train as much as most runners." It doesn't make me less of a runner because I run slower than the next person. I also do not need "faster" runners making me feel insignificant when it comes to a race.

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  38. I think anyone should be allowed to compete, as long as they can finish before the cutoff (barring unanticipated problems). My preference would be for a cutoff time that's short enough that an ordinary walker going 3-3.5 mph would not be able to finish in time, but would allow a slow runner or run/walker to finish, as long as everyone lines up according to a realistic estimate of their pace.

    I've never run a marathon, but based on my times in recent 5K efforts (22:20) and a 25K race (2:03:06), the various predictors estimate that I (47-year-old male) would run about a 3:30 marathon. Since those results were with minimal training (no speedwork or threshold training), I could probably do better. (My Garmin 620 thinks my VO2max is 54 and that I could run a marathon in 2:58:40.) I'm sure there are lots of people who think that's slow, and lots who think that's fast. I'm only concerned about doing better than I have done before.

    On my bicycle, I occasionally participate in a sport called randonneuring whose point is to finish a relatively difficult long course (usually 200K to 600K, but there are a few shorter and longer events) within a time limit, but finishers' names are published in alphabetical order and there are no prizes for winning, only for finishing. The point is to succeed in a test of endurance. Is there anything like that for running?

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  39. As a slow runner, I do believe there's room for everyone in a marathon/half marathon/10k/5k/whatever! We all have to start somewhere. Something else to consider for the "elitist" runners, even the slow runners are running fast as they can. Our level of exertion is just as great, even though we're not as fast. And it takes us twice as long! I feel like it's even harder for us slower runners and that should be respected. It's kinda funny, but it's true!

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  40. Wow, kind of a sad article! I think that races need to be made up of runners of all sorts! (Besides, if there weren't some slow runners, then I'd be the last to cross the finish line!!?!). I think marathon is a personal journey, and everyone has their different goals and purpose. "It's your race", is what I always tell people! I don't think "slow" runners "ruin" marathons at all! I get inspired seeing all paces, shapes, and ages running. There are been times where I'm feeling weak, and I pass someone who is 40 years older than I am, and think "hell yeah for you!!". I'm medium in the spectrum (8:00-8:20/mile). And I understand the reason for cut off times - for safety. They are paying law enforcement to man the race for a certain amount of hours. So I understand the need.

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  41. Running is getting more popular, and some people just hate that.
    I say "go for it" -- no matter what speed you are!
    I hope to run another marathon again someday, somewhere in your 3:40 to 4:00 range--I'll keep an eye out for ya! :)

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  42. I agree with cutoff times. I've run halfs where people are walking at a leisurely stroll...

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  43. This is a great post and an interesting debate. I'm running the Tokyo marathon in two weeks and the cutoff is 7 hours, but the weekend before is the Osaka marathon where the cutoff is 5. I think race organizers have the right to set the cutoff at whatever they please; I do think if its taking you longer than 7 hours to complete it, you might want to consider shorter distances for your own safety....

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  44. Beth- you most definitely are not "average"!!! The median time for a female now is around 4:40 (4:16 for men)!! So, you are quite speedy by comparison!

    I say KUDOS to any and all who attempt marathons whether they run, walk, plod, shuffle, cartwheel, or frog hop to the finish! I, mean, seriously, do we just have a need to criticize?? I agree with you... You can't complain about how unhealthy and fat Americans are and then turn around and degrade an effort that lasts for 26.2 freakin miles!

    My most recent PR is 3:42:42, enough to BQ! Will work towards a 3:30-3:35 for the fall!

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  45. I ran my only marathon in - gulp - just over 6 hours. I had been on track for a 4.5h marathon but halfway through training I caught a virus which left me with an auto immune disorder. My doctors agreed running was still ok, so I swallowed my pride and applied to join the senior citizens at the early start (I was 27!). I came second last overall and will always be grateful I persisted because the joy of simply finishing what I started meant so much more than the number on the clock.
    Knowing I would be being passed the whole race, I made a rule to say something encouraging to everybody, and many people thanked me for it after the race. I had such a great morning!

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  46. I have seen so many people who have fallen in love with the sport and dream of doing a marathon. I say go for it no matter what your speed. A mile is a mile whether it's an 8 minute mile or a 14 minute mile.

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  47. I trained to finish and did it in 5:20. I sobbed when I crossed the finish line. I also raised $3000 for the Temple Grandin School where I work. I didn't care that I was not "fast" and neither did the families from TGS who cheered me on. We can all run for different reasons and all be winners.

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  48. Personally I think it takes a lot of guts to go out there and start a race when you know it's going to take you 5 or 6 hours to run, that's a lot of hours of hard graft. Maybe some of the people who moan about slow finishers should try running for that length of time and see what it takes before they judge.

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  49. These supposed fast runners who moan about slower runners need a reality check
    The standard of the top 0.1% has got better but the number of athletes in sub 2-10 has diminished since the 80's, especially in the usa and uk. The standard is dropping so these people who look down on the 5 hour plus runners/walkers wouldn't even be competitive 20 years ago.
    While I'm on one, is 3 hours fast if you are an hour behind the winner? Not really, you are one of the "also rans" who pick up a goody bag and a tin medal.
    My first marathon is in manchester UK in April and I hope to break 4 hours. Will I? God willing yes, but as long as I finish I don't really care.

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  50. Thank you for this. As a slower runner, I struggle with racing period. Lacing up and showing up is half the battle, haters on the course be damned. I train, I try and I finish. I'm not in the back of the pack and I'm healthier and happier for the effort every time. Thanks Beth for keeping it real.

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  51. I read that article several months ago and it made me SOOOOOOOOO angry. How fast/slow someone else runs their race has no affect on my whatsoever, as long as people are coraled correctly. I also think cut off times maintain the integrity of the race. Most cut off times are within 6-7 hours, so if you can cover that distance in that amount of time, more power to you! I personal would rather run for three and a half hours than walk for 7 hours, so I give mad props to someone who can walk for that long! Also, like you mentioned, for most people, their only goal for their first marathon is to finish. I ran my first marathon in 4:35, but now, several years later, I can pull out a 3:28 on a good day. "Plodders" can turn into Boston Qualifiers!

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  52. I don't care if you run a marathon slowly, but at the same time I don't think the marathon is for everyone. Too many people undertake a potentially dangerous activity ill-prepared.

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  53. Thank you for writing this. I'm a 3:30ish marathoner (same as you, not terribly fast, but certainly not sow), and if I looked at the 5-6 hour marathoners as not worthy of running, then how should the elites look at me? As long as a runner trains and respects the distance, I see no problem with getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other.

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  54. People are mean. I'm so grateful for the ability and the gift of running I don't care if I'm faster or slower. And some days I am....some days I'm a 9 minute mile (hey...that's faster for me) and some days I'm a 10:30 mile. And guess what. All I care about is running. If I never got to run a race again and only ran for the joy of it (which I do often), my life would be complete for just the running. I worry about me out there and I enjoy the crowd and I am grateful.

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  55. How is it that everyone is saying they are "average" and then publishing their finishing time of 3:30-3:40...... Last I checked, the truly average finishing time of a female in the US running a marathon was 4:41 or thereabouts. I know that when I've printed off my marathon results (finishing anywhere from 4:20-4:40 on average) they usually show me finishing in the top 50%ile for my age/gender. I guess I never considered myself slow until reading these comments- I always thought I was pretty average. Learn something new every day.....

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  56. I'm new to running. Just getting ready for my first half and I'm planning to finish in 3-3.5 hours. I see no problems with setting race time limits. I also see no problem with slow runners and run/walkers (me!) or walkers as long as your run/walk respectfully and finish within the set time. It really just comes down to respect for your fellow runners.

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  57. I'm average in marathons and I could care less if someone walks/runs or runs the entire way. I agree there should be cut off times and you should push a bit as it's suppose to be a challenge but then again we all have different things that challenge us.

    One thing that DOES bug me is someone stopping abruptly to walk in the middle of the course. If you want to go from run to walk PLEASE move to the side first. I've almost rear -ended people who do this!

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  58. A friend of mine is well into her 70's and still completing marathons. These days it takes her 6 hours or so - whereas in her 50's she was a 3:30 finisher. If anyone tries to say she's too slow... well f-you my friend! I aspire to doing 6 hr marathons in my 70s

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  59. People who care about slower runners have an ego problem. They simply want to put their name to something that makes them feel better than everyone else to stroke their own ego. period.

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  60. I agree that there's a place for runners of every speed. The only time I've ever been frustrated with walkers (and I mean people who register for races with the intention of only walking), is when they complain that the course isn't open long enough for them to feel welcome. It is an expensive endeavor to close roads and hire police for eight hours at a time, you shouldn't expect every race course to be accommodating. Other than that, all are welcome!

    I guess I just hate it when anyone of any speed is an entitled asshole.

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  61. The way I look at it, if you're not elite, you're racing the clock like everyone else is. So sorry, if it makes the former all-county runner-up feel bad that people are interested in his sport now.

    I think it might be a bit much to start off with a marathon -- too many friends trying to run them to lose weight wind up injured -- but that's honestly a personal call. Race cutoffs are fine; they let everyone know what the course expectations are.

    I would have started running in my 20s except that as a slow runner, there were no races or training that I felt comfortable trying because I didn't have any childhood running background. On balance, I think the outlook is better now when people don't feel intimidated to try.

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  62. I'm technically a plodder but I also will never run road marathons to find out. I ran my first trail marathon less than 6 months after I began my running career and finished in my goal time of 6 hours, and I won first in my age group. So there?

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