Happy belated President’s Day, you guys! I hope you had as much fun at your Powdered-Wig-Off as I did at mine (and I hope you learned your lesson about stealing my talcum powder, John “Quincy” Adams).
You may have missed it in the mad stampede to buy cars and mattresses at presidentially LOW LOW LOW prices, but there was a bit of a kerfuffle this past week over our fair Commonwealth’s other favorite way to celebrate America (did I lose you at wig-off? I mean Patriot’s Day). Last Wednesday the B.A.A. released new, stricter qualifying times, making it harder than ever to get an official Boston Marathon number. It didn’t take long for the tenor of the online comments to reach a degree of vitriol usually reserved for the Boston Herald’s “Governor’s Drapes Made from the Skins of Republicans’ Puppies” exposes. The general sentiment seemed to be that charity runners, who get their numbers by raising money rather than running qualifying times, are ruining the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ethos of the Boston Marathon. As a qualified charity runner, I have a few thoughts about the True Spirit of Boston, and I hope you don’t mind if I put on my Antonin Scalia constructionism robes and share them (that’s one of those “lived with a law student for three years” jokes – holla at your girl, El!).
The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathons in the country, and it’s true that a great deal of that prestige comes from its exclusivity. While marathons like Chicago and New York draw around 45,000 runners, the Boston field is limited to around 25,000. That means that unlike other marathons, you have to prove you can run 26.2 at a pretty speedy clip before even being allowed to register. How speedy? Qualifying for gals my age means running an 8:24 average mile pace. For guys, it’s 7:15. Obviously, meeting those standards takes a lot of work, and it’s understandable that those who have qualified take great pride in being part of an elite community of runners. But it’s not just the qualifying times that makes Boston so special. It’s the Wellesley scream tunnel, the mile-by-mile Sox score updates, Heartbreak Hill, the drunk BC kids, running by Fenway, and my personal favorite, the bikers of Mile 2. Running Boston isn’t just a tribute to your own accomplishments – it’s a tribute to over 100 years of running history, and the city that enthusiastically and drunkenly embraces it every year.
Charity runners are small in number (there are actually only about 1,200 of us) but in my opinion, nobody better embodies what the Boston Marathon is all about. We’re not runners, by and large, so for us, finishing Boston is as big an accomplishment as qualifying for it is for the more experienced. We train on this course through Boston winters, and we know and love (or love/hate) every inch of every one of those famous Newton hills. And we don’t just pull ourselves up by our sneaker-straps – we help others out too. Last year charity runners raised over $10.5 million for Boston-based nonprofits, drew at least half the crowd in friends and family members, and helped hundreds of qualified runners identify the best stretch of road to pop a squat off the side of. I am proud of my qualifying time, for sure – I may in fact be buried in my Boston Qualifier jacket – but I’m far, far prouder to be a 6-year veteran of Team in Training’s Boston Marathon TEAM (all caps cause I mean it).
To prove my pride in being a charity runner, and that I deserve to wear the ol’ purple and green, I’d love to raise at least the $3,250 TNT minimum. If you haven’t donated yet, here’s the link: http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston11/cdeschenes! Also, don’t forget to checkhttps://runcdd.wordpress.com for exciting mid-month updates on my madcap marathoning misadventures, as well as versions of these emails WITH PICTURES!
Behind the sandpile at Mile 4 is really your best bet,