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Marathon Snobbery Has Arrived

(Editor’s Note: we try to keep our opinions to ourselves here at MarathonPlanet.com, but in this instance we couldn’t resist the temptation to sound off.)

It was just a matter of time before the marathon elitists (don’t get the term “elitists” confused with elite runners) emerged from behind their Frank Shorter posters to decry the record numbers of marathon finishers and how all of these “slow” runners are ruining the sport.

Slate recently magazine published an article written by Gabriel Sherman titled “How Sluggish Newbies Ruined the Marathon”. The author calls modern-day marathons “circuses” filled with a “growing army of giddy marathon rookies”. Sherman continues by saying that he is going to retire from marathon running and take up bridge.

Well, we think Mr. Sherman should find a nice group of old ladies with whom to play bridge because it’s snobs like him who are damaging the sport. Or perhaps he should take up golf and hang around the country club with crusty Judge Smails and his grandson Spaulding.

(By the way, according to MarathonGuide.com, there have been two marathon finishes by a person named Gabriel Sherman in the U.S. since 2000: one in the Dallas White Rock Marathon in 2003 with a time of 4:47:40 and one in the Top of Utah Marathon in 2001 in 3:03:20. Let’s hope that 2003 result wasn’t the same person as the author of this article or he has some explaining to do!!).

One of Sherman’s main points is that marathon running is hard on the body so these marathon novices are actually doing more harm than good. It would be impossible to come up with statistics on this, but I am all but certain that most marathon runners are healthier as a result of their accomplishments. Sure there may be a group of individuals who have injured themselves and may have been better off sticking to shorter runs, but the vast majority of marathon runners – both slow and fast ones – are probably in the best shape of their lives due to their training. And they are probably brimming with self-confidence as well.

Sherman harkens back to the good old days on 1970 when only 127 courageous souls lined up for the New York City Marathon. Does he honestly think the sport of marathoning was better off then, or now when 40,000 runners are competing in New York?

And Sherman makes no mention of the millions of dollars that are being raised for charity by this new breed of marathon runners. These individuals are not only motivated to improve their own health but they also run for others; for the betterment of society. They have used the sport of marathon running to do good things.

Perhaps Mr. Sherman wrote this article to drum up controversy, but there are other people out there who think like him; I have talked to some of them. They are upset because so many others have decided to join their elite little club. If that’s how they feel, then they should go find another club to join – one that embraces snobs.

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