Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sat, 04 Nov 2006 05:22:15 -0500

"Slowpokes" Speak

RUNNING COMMENTARY 648

Unlike many other running websites, mine doesn't offer a forum where readers can discuss articles. I could explain why, but that would detour you away from the topic of the day.

That's the previous Commentary, "Speaking of Slowpokes." It drew more response than anything I've written here in a long time. For once I yield this space to readers for a sampling of their comments.

Cathy Troisi (used as an example of "slowpoke" success in RC 647): "My motto is, 'I may be slow, but I am really good at it.' But I am NOT slow to defend the back of the pack. I take exception to Gabriel Sherman's verbal attack [in Slate.com], not so much for myself but for those who are even farther behind me. I'd guess he is young, in chronological age and obviously in attitude. If we assume his mental, emotional, social, psychological age will advance with his chronological age, we can hope that he too will 'grow up.' At which time he might be grateful for those of us who made him look good way back when."

Larry McNichols: "Since Gabriel Sherman has only run six marathons, I guess we could forgive him. If he continues to run them, I believe his view will change. Most marathoners quickly become humble. It's just taking a little more time with this guy." (Marathonguide.com lists a 2003 time of 2:56 for a Gabriel Sherman, then 24.)

Wayne Buck: "I have run eight marathons over a span of 20-some years. My fastest was 3:37, my slowest, 5:14. I'm not as proud of the latter, but I say that because I know with more training I could run a little faster. The greatest challenge of a marathon is not the running it but training for it."

Ed Shaw: "All of those sub-three-hour runners in the mass marathons are being financially subsidized by the 'slow' runners. Their entry fees help bulk up those goodie bags, provide for police coverage and safety and the vast improvements in scoring and timing (think chips and real-time reporting versus guy standing at the finish line with a stopwatch, calling out times). The sheer numbers of runners are attractive to sponsors who provide a lot of money to the sport."

Gary Evans: "I've run marathons from 2:38 to four hours plus. The slower folks I'm running with now are no less dedicated, and are much less shallow and egotistical, than those the author you alluded to must consider to be 'real runners'."

Bruce Wilkison (addressed directly to Gabriel Sherman): "You write, 'Aside from an elevated sense of self-worth, what do [slower] marathoners get from their efforts?' You also talk about 'marathon rookies… crawling to the finish line.' I'm training for my marathon debut in January. I can list a myriad of improvements in my life because of running and marathon training. I've gone from 192 pounds two years ago to 148, and dropped my 5K time from 31:00 to just over 20:00. The 20:00 5K sure doesn’t FEEL like 'crawling,' even though it's more than three minutes slower than I could run when I was almost 30 years younger."

Patrick McCarthy: "I once listened to a gentleman complaining that people as slow as myself should not be allowed in marathons. However, he was complaining because he had been a volunteer at the Vancouver Marathon when it was miserably cold and rainy. He was stuck at an aid station near finish line and never wanted to go through so long a time being cold. My thoughts are that he didn't have to do it at all, and also that he could tell the director of volunteers he need to be near the start if its a cold day so he can get out early."

Paul Kiell: "In my very last marathon I finished a little over five hours. This last one was the most enjoyable, running and talking to other packs of runners, many of them running as families. It's the only marathon I could say I had fun in."

Marjorie Mullaly: "In 1988 I ran my PR at St. George; it was 4:54. Twenty-Eight marathons later, a new artificial knee and an ascending aortic aneurysm, I just walked St. George in 7:31. In 1988 at the PR time I was nearly last, and this year at 7:30 I was not last. I also have raised over $15,000 for a couple of charities and I don't plan on quitting yet. I hope I've never 'ruined' a marathon for anyone."

Rick Burd: "Even when I was 'fast,' I had nothing but absolute respect for the athletes I used to see finishing the marathon even after the official timers had closed shop and gone home."

Joy Johnson (who'll turn 80 in December): "Not only do we make the faster runners look good; they appreciate us. I have yet to visit with an elite athlete who does not respect us. Joan Samuelson, Grete Waitz, Marla Runyan, Colleen DeReuck and others have shaken my hand and said, "I hope I am still running when I get to be your age."
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