I read a recent article from Steve Jones, a former elite runner who said “I don’t believe that starting and finishing a marathon makes you a marathoner.” In his view, only racing as fast as you can qualifies you to call yourself a marathoner and those who “merely” cover 26.2 miles during a marathon event don’t get that same title. It’s hard for me to relate or understand that kind of logic.
I have run marathons and coach many people who do and never once did it come to mind that only some of them were marathoners. Some runners are fast. Like really fast. And other runners are not. We have all come together as a community recently to say we are all runners. 5′ mile or 13′ mile. A mile is a mile and if you run it, you are a runner.
I have another update for Steve Jones – runners come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. We don’t all look the same and we all show up at the start line traveling on our own, very personal journey. And every marathoner has a goal. For some it’s a time goal and yes, for some it is a huge feat just to get through 26.2 miles. I don’t judge anyone’s goal. Whether I am in the race or cheering from the sidelines, I am just as enthusiastic about the elite runners flying by as I am about the runners who are out there for 7+ hours.
So on the eve of the Philadelphia Marathon, I want to wish ALL the Marathoners a good race tomorrow. And for all of you first timers – I can’t wait to welcome you to the tribe that calls ourselves marathoners. Not because we are elite runners trying to win the race but because we dared to toe the line and push ourselves no matter how fast or slow until we traversed every step of those 26.2 miles.