Many runners consider finishing a marathon a singular achievement, no matter the time. But the fact that finishing times are getting slower irks some hard-core runners who think that an increasing number of “slower” runners are disrespecting the 26.2-mile distance once thought to be for elite runners. In last year’s New York City Marathon, for example, about 21 percent of the field finished in more than five hours.
In a recent New York Times article, a woman’s cross-country coach and marathon runner believes, “It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven, eight hours. It used to be that running a marathon was worth something - - there used to be a pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore. Now it’s, ‘How low is the bar?’ ”
So, is participating in a marathon rather than “racing” it ruining its elite status, or should all marathon finishers be congratulated for their accomplishment, no matter how fast or slow they navigate the course? Should there be a cut-off time for someone to be considered a “real” marathoner? If so, what should it be, and who should make that decision?
What’s your opinion?