The info below was listed on a racing website as the “highlights” of the America’s Finest City Half Marathon, to be held in San Diego this August.
2-day Expo; Race Day Festival; Tech t-shirts; Medals to all HM finishers under 3 hrs., HM limited to 7,750. 5K limited to 1500
Don’t get me wrong ~ San Diego is absolutely one of my favorite places to go….we are regular vacationers there each and every summer.
But the verbiage of these *highlights* really has me in a tizz. Only finishers under 3 hours are deserving of a medal? Did they cover less distance than sub-3 hour finishers? Did they work “less hard??” Did they shed less sweat, have fewer aches and pains?
In contrast, in my humble opinion, those slowpoke, drag-yourself-across-the-finish-line-at-all-costs finishers are the most deserving of the group. I guarantee you that they shed more sweat, had more mental anguish and more aching body parts than any of the sub-3-ers could even fathom.
I think I am an anomaly ~ as I continue to be more impressed by those who have to work harder to achieve a goal, than I am by those to whom running just comes naturally. Maybe I’m biased since I’m not a good runner, but even in my back-of-the-pack location, I am still amazed by runners that have to work even harder.
I remember my first “big race” very well ~ a 12k along the harbor in San Pedro, California (the Bridge to Breakwater) ~ and the image of a particular runner is still engrained my brain. The course was an out-and-back, and I was poking along at my usual Pokey Pace (I haven’t really gotten much faster in the past 2 years!) and upon my way back down a hilly portion of the course, I saw the most inspiring runner that I have ever seen. A woman, probably mid 40’s, weighing in at at least close to 300 pounds. Everyone of her steps required noticeable effort, and she was sweating buckets in the hot temperatures of the day. As I was heading down the hill, she has heading up, out to the turnaround point at the breakwater. By my calculation at that time, there were probably only 20ish people behind me, and they were all on the downhill, not too far behind me. All except for this woman. As she approached me, I was made aware of the HUGE smile on her face, as she happily gave me a high-five, told me what a great job I was doing, and wished me luck. I returned the sentiments and we both continued to plod along, each in our opposite direction.
This one, single runner inspired me so much that day, that I can’t even express it. It was an undeniable certainty that she would finish last in the race ~ substantially behind everyone else. Yet this didn’t keep her from smiling, high-fiving, and trucking on. While the front-of-the-packers were eating bagels and oranges and analyzing their runs, this woman was still running and sweating in the higher-than-normal California temps that day. How could one not be inspired by that?
I guarantee that this woman, much like anyone else that would run an half marathon in over 3 hours, exerted enough physical energy and mental toughness to be more than deserving of a medal. And it makes me angry when the running community ~ which for the most part is so incredibly welcoming and supportive ~ takes an elitist approach.
As most of might have figured out by now, I am not a stellar half marathon runner (shhhhh…don’t tell anyone else!). There are so many variables and “what if’s” along a course of 13.1 miles that could easily set me back and push me back into the over 3 hour category. If that was me, and I pushed through leg cramps (oh, which I certainly have) and mental adversity to complete a HM course – you bet your sweet selves I would be demanding a medal. And no runner should ever settle for less.
I understand the need for time limits and road closures ~ and I’m okay with it. So if it’s a time limit issue, then call it a time limit ~ and all of us slowpokes would be understanding. But if a race is just going to be greedy with its medals, then it can count me out.
I’ll take my money and my slowpoke behind to another race that has an appreciation of what it really takes for runners like me to complete a race.
Okay, rant over. Back to the regularly scheduled programming.
****Ranter's Note: after some time to re-look at the website and come out of my tizz, apparently they have changed some of the verbiage and indicated that the time limit IS a road closure issue.....not just a "you're to slow to get a medal issue. As promised above, I will be understanding from now on ;) I just won't go run their race, LOL! :) ****