Last week, The New York Times ran an article,
"Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?" As marathons and
long-distance events become more ubiquitous, finishing times are getting
slower, which has sparked a debate in the running community as to whether
slower runners and walkers, known as plodders, should be able to compete in
marathons. The elite runners resent the 11-minute-per-mile joggers clogging the
streets, using up resources and sharing a piece of the glory.
I bet some of these plodders are the players in school
who were relegated to watching the game from the sidelines while their coach
played the star athletes. Now, years later into adulthood, they find the same
childish politics at work: only the strongest and fittest get to play. Sure,
from a logistics standpoint there needs to be cutoff times to allow for aid
stations, support staff and road closures, but the two-percent-body-fat
speedsters need to remember one thing: The slower and less-gifted athletes are
what makes the sport great.
In just about every endurance event I've seen, the last
runner to cross the finish line receives as much, if not more, crowd support
than the winner. Many of these slower athletes complete the race despite having
physical limitations and inspire others to get off the couch and lead a
healthier lifestyle. They are good for the sport and good for society.
So plodders, lace up, unite and rejoice! What you lack in speed, grace and finesse, you exceed in spirit and determination.