Marathons are getting crowded, apparently. According to a story on NPR (read it here), a record number of Americans are running marathons. And with more people running comes more crowds.
Is this a bad thing? I love races with a lot of people – they’re more fun, better organized and you feel like you’re part of a spectacle, an all-weekend event. If I ever run another marathon – which I have no plans of – I’d pick a big city one. The more the merrier.
The NPR story focused on how more runners in the field means more people qualifying for the Boston Marathon, the biggest, elitist one of them all. You have to meet a qualifying time to even get into the race. The qualifier time was set to limit the field, but with so many people tackling marathons, the field is filling up faster. In fact, this year, the race’s spots filled in eight hours.
To counter this, Boston will have new rules, according to the article: Starting next year, the folks with the fastest times can sign up first. That means not everyone who technically qualifies for Boston will get to run. There are just too many marathon runners.
No biggie for me, I never expect to qualify.
The story also focused on why there were more runners. Ryan Lampa of the research group Running USA is quoted as saying training programs, like Team in Training, “are the pipeline for this growth.”
“They can take that new runner from unfit to finish a marathon in three to six months,” Lampa says. “They opened up the sport to mainstream America.”
No kidding. That’s how I got into this mess of being a runner in the first place. I ran my first marathon with Team in Training in 2005 and I think I probably wouldn’t have made it through training without the coaching guidance provided.
As a first-timer quoted in the article said, “There’s no way I could have ever done this on my own. I wouldn’t know about fueling myself during runs, I wouldn’t know about any of that, or pacing. I feel like I would have just been going out blind.”
So, runners, whether you’re vying for one of those spots at Boston or you are you are simply aiming to finish your first race ever, you’re in good company. Good, crowded company.