Monday, April 28, 2008

Bothered By Boston Bandits

I’d like to start off my story today with a question. Are we done with the celebration yet? Are we done with the glorification of all those who finished the Boston Marathon a week ago? Because if you aren’t, then I suggest you logoff and go elsewhere quietly because The Laminator cannot stand a subset of those who ran Boston and what is to follow is anything but congratulatory…

Over the past week, I, like many fellow runners, were busy reading race reports and sending virtual congratulations to all those who ran Boston a week ago. I have to admit that I was pretty inspired by most of the accounts that I read. It seemed that the majority of those who qualified to run the race really had to run hard, fight through injuries, and train diligently to get to the starting line. As a result, the mere fact that they were running The Boston Marathon was a celebration of their tremendous accomplishment. For these people, I sincerely applaud their efforts and achievement.

However, there were a couple (count’em 2) of reports that left me scratching my head. These two runners (who shall rename nameless, even if I don’t think they deserve in any way the sanctity of anonymity) ran from the start in Hopkinton to the finish in downtown Boston, without having qualified or registered for the race. Yes, fellow runners, there are bandits among us. What was worse, these two Boston Marathon impersonators, had the audacity not just to complain about the organization of the race, but suggested some “improvements” to the course so that they can have a better time next year when they bandit the race again. Are you kidding me? Am I the only one who believes the Boston Marathon course to be hallowed ground reserved only for the running elite (minus runners who enter via charity)? There are people who train their whole lives just to be able to run this race once. How do we justify the actions of bandit runners to those people?

Runner’s World had a funny story highlighting the controversial topic of bandit runners in road races today. If you read the comments, you’ll appreciate the arguments for both sides of the issues. For the sake of brevity, I will not repeat them here. Suffice it to say that I consider the practice to be disrespectful to the race directors, the race officials, the city/park where the race is taking place, and to the other runners who registered and paid for the privilege to run in the event. In a historic and symbolic race with qualifications for entry as is the case with the Boston Marathon, bandit runners are a downright travesty.

Bandit runners, please do not let me run into you at next year’s race. But if I do, I am apologizing right now. I really do not know what I will say or do.

18 comments:

Irish Cream said...

Right on, Lam . . . I couldn't agree with you more.

audgepodge said...

I totally agree with you! When I was training for the Chicago marathon last year, a friend of mine had mentioned his past experience and that he had run the Boston marathon. I run a 5:30 marathon so of course, I was immediately impressed. But then I later found out that he had run bandit and while I still love the guy, I was kind of annoyed. To me, when you say "I ran the Boston Marathon", you're making a statement that you qualified to run such an elite event. If you ran bandit (I hear there are tons that do so), you should say that when you mention you run Boston. Of course, that's just my personal opinion. :)

Frayed Laces said...

Oh dear me, it must be that time of the month for you...someone get this man some brownies STAT!

I would be pissed too. Not only do they take up resources, but they get in the way! I have dealt with bandits even at smaller races, and it is so frustrating. Too bad you can't have one of those spike strips for cars where the only way they go down is to be activated by your champion chip. Now there's an idea...

crossn81 said...

I can't imagine running that far and in a race like Boston but not having an official time. That seems like a waste of a race if you can't come back and say look at my official time. But then again I think banditing is pretty silly all around.

Laura said...

Funny that you should post this... I actually stayed up late last night reading that article on Runners World (and I rarely read articles on RW/Active... all my blogs are enough reading to keep up with). Personally, I am so against bandit running - I think it's kind of disrespectful, and I would never do it. What's interesting is, if you read all the comments, there really weren't any that supported bandits and made logical sense. I agree with those who say it's like stealing.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Are you kidding me? They made suggestions for improvements??? That's just ridiculous.

I am such a novice, I only heard this term in the last month. It never would have even occurred to me.

Nitmos said...

Here, here...I hold no sympathy for the fate of a bandit.

On a related note, on the bus to Hopkinton I sat next to a young woman who was not a qualifier but, I assumed, was a charity runner. Charity runners are wonderful folks so, rock on, I'm thinking. Through conversation, it turned out that she gained entry through a college friend who had extra group entry applications from the college group's charity. So, she did not qualify based on time. Nor raise money for the charity. She simply knew someone with an extra form.

I didn't know what to feel about this but methinks it doesn't sit right either. I know lots of people busting their butt to get to Boston either through a time goal or donation drive. To get to run it doing nothing????

Non-Runner Nancy said...

Thanks for your nice comments on my blog, Lam. I appreciate them very much.

nwgdc said...

bravo Lam. but you know what? someone will ask them what they ran. and if they respond with "5:07," I think a logical follow-up question is "what's your PR?" expose them for being a fraud! it'll mean SO MUCH MORE when we get there. can't wait!

sRod said...

I agree with you 99%. The only situation I think it's ok to bandit in is when you're already on a run and you happen across a race in progress, e.g., one of the 50 bazillion 5k held in Central Parl over the summer. And even then, I'd only bandit a cup of water (they throw so much of it away!).

Run For Life said...

I definitely agree with you. Especially to bandit Boston of all the races is so distasteful.

mom2beccaNallie said...

I agree with you 100%!! There is no place for bandits in racing!!!

Thanks for dropping by my blog and the congratulations. I'm still on a high from my PR. You did amazing in that race!! I really enjoyed reading your race report and your blog.

What races are you running next? I'm in for Mother's Day 4M, Healthy Kidney 10K, and the Father's Day 5M so far?

bill carter said...

Hi Lam

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post and the guts it takes to write something like this. When I started running about 5 years ago, my dream was to run Boston... and I never thought I would get there. Now that I have done it twice, it is truly hallowed ground to me. I can honestly admit that I have cried right after finishing a marathon only 2 times and I bet you can guess where. I have put in so many hours of sweat, sore muscles, and just pure pain to get to Boston that someone who runs as a bandit is nothing more than a cheater in my book. I know it is strong to say that, but what about all the other runners who have run so hard in other marathons and would not even think about doing Boston unless they qualified. In regard to a bandit complaining about the race, well that just goes to show what kind of person would run as a bandit... certainly not anyone with an opinion that matters.

Thanks my friend and here is to hoping we do Boston '09 together because it would be an honor to meet you.

scarinzic said...

Great post. Bandits are no good in any race, let alone a race featuring athletes who work so hard to qualify for a chance to run.

Betsy said...

I completely agree, especially in the case of Boston. With so many runners working so hard to qualify, to just cheat your way in is disgusting.

Lily on the Road said...

Wow, I'm a novice just like Nancy. I'm running my very first (yes ligit marathon in May).

Who would ever consider running as a bandit, let alone at a race such as Boston.

This has totally boggled my mind...incredible, they must have more balls than King Kong....geezzzzzz

Jamie said...

Agree with you 100%! So incredibly disrespectful on any course but especially Boston.

Mike said...

I totally agree with you, Lam. I hope to be able to run with the masses in Boston one day...and be assured, it will be because I qualified. No bandits allowed!

 
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