Pay the price, roll the dice, and see if you’ve got it in you.
I’ve read several articles and blog posts recently about the ‘average runner’ and whether they belong in marathons. I’m a bit saddened by this discussion. I’m not talking about the otherwise sedentary person who doesn’t train at all, shows up on race day, and potentially puts themselves in serious personal risk. I’m talking about the person who puts in the time to follow some sort of training program, weaving this thread into the complicated cloth of life. The person who has no intentions or delusions of victory, but rather defines their own personal finish line, and duels with the mental and physical challenges each day brings in an attempt to reach that line. The person who has their own reason for the chase, perhaps profound or perhaps spectacularly mundane, and need not share that reason or justify why they continue to log the miles. I’m talking about the person that looks an awful lot like what I see in the mirror.
I’m of the opinion that if the race is open to the public, then anyone should have the opportunity to make the decision to join the battle. We’re all responsible for our own actions, and we’re all free to make good or bad choices along the way. We all need to challenge our own boundaries and push ourselves into places where we’re not sure we can go. Sometimes we not only want to, but we need to color outside the lines.
Admittedly I’m not a follower of the sport of running, and my knowledge of the elite runners doesn’t go much beyond Ryan Hall. However, most everything I’ve read or heard regarding elite runners and their interactions with us non-elite folks has been very positive. They are ambassadors for the sport, especially when interacting with children who represent the future of the sport, and they don’t seem to begrudge anyone who is trying to make it to the finish line, or the starting line for that matter. They are elite runners, but not elitists. They recognize that the clock is not the only way to measure the accomplishment.
So much of what we do today is sanitized, and sterilized, and regulated, and over-engineered, yet at the heart of the matter running remains the same as it was hundreds and thousands of years ago. Back when anyone could do it … and thankfully anyone still can.