Every few months I always seem to come across online forums discussing the “problems” with people who take more than four hours to run a marathon. People debate whether or not these non-elite runners have any business being out there in the first place.
As someone who will NEVER see a marathon time less than four hours, I, of course, disagree that slow runners have no business signing up for races. With about one-third of the U.S. population falling under the definition of obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I don’t care if it takes someone seven hours to cross that finish line. I prefer they be out there running, speed-walking, waddling, whatever you want to call it, participating in a marathon that doesn’t involve an afternoon of watching the Kardashian sisters on TV while eating a half-gallon of ice cream.
I do understand the frustration of runners who think the races are too crowded. I have put it out there as one of my frustrations, as well. But don’t blame the slow runners for the large numbers. Sign up for a different, less-crowded race! The argument that always makes me laugh is that the slow runners “get in the way” and slow down those who are trying to run competitively. I saw the best response to this complaint in a forum once from a “slow” runner who told the sub-four-hour marathoner who was complaining that she would be so far behind him (the fast runner) there’s no way they would even be able to see each other, let alone get in each other’s way. Yes! That. What she said. If a sub-four-hour marathoner is behind me, then they have either a)lied about their pace b) have not been able to demonstrate they can run that pace in order to get in a preferred starting corral.
I was thrilled to see this recent article on active.com that features the stories of DFL (dead frickin’ last) runners. The point that I always like to make was made in this article: the slow runners are the true endurance athletes because they will be out there running two, maybe three times, the amount of time as the elite runners! 😉
I still love the story I shared last November of my Facebook friend, a newbie runner, who was DFL at the Hot Chocolate 15k. After declining offers by the policeman who was opening streets behind her, she kept moving. She ended up actually passing a group that had previously been out of her sight, leaving the official DFL position to someone else. But to the person who was DFL, it’s a whole lot better to say you were DFL and was a finisher, rather than a quitter. Kudos to you! You will always have my respect. And chances are, I will be you one day.