Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Marathon Part Two

Marathons have the potential to be the most awesome athletic events in history: World class athletes and ordinary hopeful active people of all ages participating in the race.

Disappointments of Chicago:

Shutting down the race penalized us velocity challenged participants AGAIN.
The Chicago officials turned their marathon into a 5 ½ hour ordeal... in mid-stream.

Come-on, guys, the record hot forecast for Sunday was there all week. Order up cups of ice for every 5 miles and the option of COLD water every 2.

Shutting down the marathon at 3 ½ hours was the ultimate ageist, sexist, elitist slam.

Everything was expensive in many ways, Chicago.

The weather:
1. The heat sucked.
2. Global warming is real.
3. 87 degrees in Chicago wasn’t a surprise; it was the forecast for days.
4. My heart goes out to those who could have or did finish in spite of the heat and got turned into fun runners, after huge investments of training, time, energy and money.

I was angry.....
When, in the Bjorklund Half in Duluth, they cut off our chips at mile 7.
When, in the 2006 Twin Cities, all the water stops were shut down after mile 5.
When I discovered that all certified marathons in IA, SD, NE, KS, MN are 6 hours or less.
When I realized, having started running at the late age of 62, that I could never ever qualify for Boston
Whenever I sense sexism... because, unlike football, marathons have the potential to be egalitarian.

I imagine a marathon with water and Gatorade and gummy bears and organic jelly beans and Cliff shots, chunks of banana and sections of fresh orange ... and cups of ice & lots of water hoses when it is hot.

Spectators... as we experienced in New York City and Chicago!!

I dream of marathons where every last old woman and old man and person with handicap gets their time and age group place as long as they cross the finish line on the same day that the race started.

A marathon finish line open at least 8 hours like New York City and Portland Oregon
Perhaps an early start as in Little Rock... (and no penalties of course)
A race course with shady streets.. like New York and Fargo and Chicago and Twin Cities... and pre-Katrina New Orleans.
Plenty of snacks, medals, roses... for even slowest finishers.. As in Portland Oregon
Finisher’s shirts in the packet so everybody gets one. (A technical shirt for running)
A greeting of “We never leave anybody out there” like we got at the Avenue of the Giants when we said thanks for waiting for us.

Sweet Pea and I work hard, we train, we are slow serious runners.
I get frustrated, disappointed, angry, and sometimes I grieve. But having fun can be a decision, and I don’t want the weather, yucky logistics, or behavior of others control my feelings.
I will remember my delights.

I choose to cherish the best of our Chicago weekend.
Call me Sunshine.
For another look at our Chicago Marathon weekend, click on Chicaga Saga on Make It a Masterpiece.


Elaine Merrill said...

I've been away from your blog for a while. You've had so many adventures! Keep on having fun, and keep on writing--it's a pleasure to read. Thanks!

Sunshine said...

Elizabeth: Delightful to hear from you!

Renee said...

Thank you! Thank you! The ageist, sexist and elitist comment was so on target. Every time I read an article on marathoning that slams slow runners I know it's about misogyny and ageism. How does my 5 1/2 hour marathon impact ANYONE's 3 1/2 hour marathon?!?!

There is so much sexism in this sport and it just gets me every time. The nasty comments start at the 9mm corral and just continue on back.

Steamtown recorded a finisher at 7 1/2 hours! I was so pleased to see that. Chicago should be ashamed, truly ashamed of this debacle.

I am glad you are choosing to cherish the best of what happened. Your next marathon will certainly shine even brighter.

(And starting to run at age 62! I want to hold a marathon just for you!)

Backofpack said...

I love your positve attitude - choosing to recognize the joy of the day even while acknowledging the disappointments. You are obviously one classy lady.

One of the things I love about my neck of the woods is the support all runners get. I've been dead last in a couple of our local races - one where the only entry fee was two cans of soup - one for the runners and one for the food bank - and that race director waited for me and my friend with a cheerful attitude, hot soup to finish and a prize for coming in last. That's cool.

I've run a couple marathons with 6 hour cutoffs and it is stressful - I'm too close to that line (been over it twice). I was disppointed to find closed water stations and the finish line being dismantled both in the North Discovery and Couer D'Alene. The mats were still out, but the banners and stuff were coming down, the food and water were gone.

Have you ever been to a race where you see racers leaving the finish area with bags stuffed with food? That makes me mad too - because I'm usually one of the racers who misses out when they run out.

Anyway, I'm glad you made the best of it! You should try out Portland next year - I think you would have a wonderful experience!

Mr. Satan A. Chilles said...

The people who run near the 'back of the pack' work harder than anybody. I realize that for some finishing fast is important, but those who run slower are out there longer, and it's a lot harder. I always get tired of seeing media coverage of the top two or three winners as they come through the finish line, and then the coverage ends, but we know better. The real heroes and heroines are out there a lot longer.

Glad somebody has the right attitude. I suffered through Chicago, too, and I have no regrets; good for you, too.

DawnB said...

Sunshine I'm so sorry you did not get to finish the marathon. what a great post. Shame on Chicago for doing what they did. And what a great attitude, you chose to make the best of it, Sunshine, just awesome!!

Vickie said...

Hello, glad you stopped by my blog. I will be running the GR half marathon, so maybe we can meet up. If you need any help with directions or anything, let me know. My e-mail is vbaker@wnj.com. I have lived in the town all my life, and know the race director personally (as do hundreds of others, but I did know him before the marathon). Sorry to hear about the Chicago mess. Several of my friends were there too, so I've heard several accounts--all pretty much the same. And as for back of the pack runners, you won't have to EVER feel slow in GR.

Vickie said...

Oh, and as a P.S. Grand Rapids has the shady streets, the supportive volunteers, a race director who will stand at the finish line until EVERY runner finishes, an early start if you need it, and at least an 8 hour finish. I hope you come and join us.

Iron Jayhawk said...

I'm right there with you.

I was so upset when they re-reouted us to a 'fun run' (especially there was nothing fun about it). I felt belittled and deflated when that happened.


Nothing wrong with being slow. Those of us in the back of the pack have more. And had we been given the option to finish, I knew we all would have.

Renee said...

I thought you might find this interesting: