Thursday, March 3, 2011

Race Qualifications

T and I were attempting to come back from our illnesses and run yesterday, and you can guess how that turned out. We turned that more into a walk-run because neither of us can do a lot of running without coughing (fun, huh?). While we were walking back to our place, we got to discussing racing and specifically, how some races have a qualifying time that you must make to be allowed to race in that event. Boston Marathon and Kona specifically come to mind.

Is it fair that these events only allow a certain group of individuals into them? I mean, if these races are the greatest events of their sport, shouldn't they open themselves up to allow everyone a chance to see the prestige and glory that they are all about?

No. And here's why. Races like Kona are so special and sacred for a reason. They are exclusive. People spend a lot of time and effort for the chance to say "I ran the Boston Marathon." or "I completed Kona." What if you were at the gym and nearly everyone there was wearing a Boston Marathon shirt? Would the race be special then? Not at all. It's the challenge of getting to these races, the dedication of it all, the journey, if you will, that makes these sacred.

Now, obviously, both Boston and Kona allow people in that don't qualify, through lottery drawings or certain special exemptions. The air traffic controller who guided US Air Flight 1549 into the Hudson is an example, as he ran Boston the following year. The pilot was invited, but politely declined, saying he wasn't a runner who could do the event.

My point is in all this, is our sports, our endurance sports of glory, are special and important to us. I like the fact that there are still races out there that don't just allow anyone to do them. As much as I want our sport to grow, at the same time, I like it being a niche sport that isn't for everyone out there.



  1. Well there are plenty of great races, like the New York Marathon if one wants the almost Boston feeling :-)

    It is true though, I like the special feeling of being friends with a female two time Boston Marathon winner! She ran a 2:25 one year!

  2. you know my thoughts. i think the exclusivity is fine as long as the race isn't a douche about it (i.e., boston now). make it exclusive, but make it fair. boston now is almost just mean for the runner who wants to try and qualify ... because just qualifying now isn't enough. kona at least is fair - there's no set time; you've just got to be one of the best in your age group (or you get ass-lucky in the lottery).

  3. Agreed, both with what you said and with what T said in her comment.