Friday, April 12, 2019

Would You Run The Boston Marathon if You Were Given an Entry?

Earned, never given.

That well-used mantra pretty much sums up running the Boston Marathon. Entries to the legendary race are obtained through running a qualifying marathon time. Competition for entries is fierce.

The race is this Monday. Yet over the past week, I saw several posts from popular bloggers who received complementary entries from race sponsors. My first question was: how? My second question was: could I accept a free entry to run the Boston Marathon, knowing that I didn't "earn" it? Would I?



I've never run Boston, but I've always wanted to. A few years ago, I ran the Chicago marathon with a finish time that was 7 minutes off my Boston qualifying time, the so-called BQ. I had visions of qualifying the following year and I trained towards that goal. All signs pointed to yes, but as with all things running, it came down to how I was feeling that day and I didn't qualify. Disappointed, it was hard for me to let go of my Boston dream.

A runner can dream....
I'm not alone in my desire to run Boston. Marathon Investigation is a blog site started by the author with the sole purpose of exposing runners who cheat to get a qualifying time to run the Boston Marathon. I knew there were cheaters, but I had no idea how many people actually stoop this low. I'm not sure how these people can actually feel proud about running Boston, but they do, posting medal pictures on social media and wearing The Jacket.

Yes, The Jacket. The quintessential Boston Marathon jacket, worn proudly by runners who've been there and run that. Kind of a funny story, but a few years ago I was shopping at TJMaxx and there were several Boston Marathon jackets on the rack. Seeing them, I had so many questions. Why were there Boston jackets left over? Who would actually buy one from TJMaxx unless you ran the race? Should I buy it? Could I wear the jacket, not having run the race?

THE JACKET
2019 edition-sold out. Or IS IT?
I left those jackets on the rack but left the store with more questions about the Boston Marathon than before. Mostly though, I wanted in. I wanted to wear The Jacket.  Knowing that with my health issues, running another marathon to qualify for Boston was out of the question. The only viable option would be for me to obtain an entry via charity bib or sponsored entry. With a minimum fundraising amount of $5000, a charity bib was out of the question.

So back to my original question: if someone gave me a bib, could I accept a free entry to the Boston Marathon? Would I? Would I wear The Jacket proudly, even though I run the race on a qualifying entry?

Yes, yes, and yes.

I'm thinking that most runners who've earned their way to the start line would disagree with me. Maybe you're even thinking that accepting a free entry is just one step above those who cheat to get a bib. I completely understand this perspective. Earned, never given, tight?

My feeling is that if I ran the Boston Marathon, no matter how I got there, I too earn the medal and the right to wear the jacket. Because 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles.

Would you run the Boston Marathon if You Were Given an Entry? /via @oldrunningmom #BostonMarathon #MarathonMonday #runchat 

Are you running the Boston Marathon on Monday? How did you enter? Would you accept a free entry to run the Boston Marathon if it were offered to you? Would you wear the jacket? Or do you feel that you have to have a BQ to earn the jacket? 

Linking up with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness. A big good luck to Lacey and to everyone who is lining up for the Boston Marathon this weekend! Earn those jackets!




45 comments :

  1. I’m pretty sure that if someone offered me the chance to run it, I would. Of course they’d have to offer me the chance at least 6 months in advance since i’ve never actually run a marathon & would need that time to train! Is it wrong? Unethical? Good questions.

    I definitely think if you finish you’ve earned your medal & jacket. It’s an insane course!

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  2. Short answer, YES, but I would never ever wear the jacket if I hadn’t earned. I can’t seem to pry it off of Ron, who seems to be wearing his all the time. And damn straight - he EARNED it.

    For those who want to get the 6 star it’s out of reach with qualifying (in my case) therefore I would definitely take (humbly) a free entry.

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    1. I have no interest in chasing the 6 stars, but I have always said that if I could run Boston, I would. Big Sur was my bucket list marathon but Boston is the one I would have loved to qualify for.

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  3. If I thought I could train for it, I would accept an entry. I don't think there's anything wrong with it since that's how the event is set up. I wonder how many charity entries and sponsor entries there all altogether? Do they really limit the field of who can register via a BQ?

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    1. Even people who obtain a BQ aren't guaranteed an entry--it depends on how many people register. Those close to the cutoff are sometimes....cut off....

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  4. It's a finisher's jacket after all not a qualifier's jacket. Comped and charity entries are so common in Boston these days the question I get the most is How did you get your Boston spot?
    I do wish some of those comped spots would go to people who ran a BQ but got shut out by the time cutoff.

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    1. 100% agree! I know I would have been one of those people on the cusp and I sure would have been upset not to get in, knowing other people received a non-qualifying entry.

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  5. As you know, I have never run a full marathon and I most likely never will. I don't have that elusive Boston finish line calling my name. However, If I was given a chance to run on a charity team and I actually trained for and ran the race-I would proudly wear the jacket and sport the medal. In my opinion, it would still be earned the same way!

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  6. Given the chance, I would jump at it. After all, there's no way I will ever qualify. As Marcia said, by running Boston, the medal and the jacket are earned, regardless of how you got there (excepting cheating, of course).

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  7. Yes, yes, and yes for me, too. I have actually looked into the charity route for Boston (for "someday," not in 2020), and I think that's an honorable way to get it done. After all, you're not only running for your own glory, but also for the benefit of others. I agree with Marcia's comment about the comped spots going to those who qualified but were cut. I also think the peeps who qualify every year (and run it every year) should consider taking a year off so someone else could have the opportunity that didn't make the cut. I'll be careful not to stumble as I carefully step down from my soap box.... ;-)

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    1. This made me think about Big Sur--I like the system they have, which is a lottery, with the majority of spots going to first timers, the B2B runners, teams, and then individuals. You don't have to qualify to run Big Sur, so that is the big differences between Big Sur and Boston. But wouldn't it be great if Boston had some kind of first timer lottery or standard?

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  8. I would accept because it's a great opportunity. However, I'm just not in the mindset to bother qualifying for that at the moment. I've had awesome marathon experiences and have improved my time but it's just a lot of work for me to chase that qualifying time that I'm not sure I want to do that right now.

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    1. I tried to qualify but the thing is that it all comes down to the day. If you have a bad race or there are circumstances out of your control (weather, for example), then all your hard work might go to naught.

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  9. Boston Marathon is such an amazing experience. I hope given the opportunity any runner would want to run that race. The ultimate jacket is getting made very cheaply I feel like than from years past. I already have Marks on it that won't come out.

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  10. Most definitely. I will only run ONE and that's NYC.

    But I would run Boston if I got an entry and if I finished it - even if I had to walk most of it, I would proudly wear the medal and the jacket.

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    1. Oh, if I ran Boston, you can guarantee I'd cross that finish line!

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  11. I ran Boston a few years ago and trained my ass off to qualify. As this is one of the few races with a qualifying time, I say in order to run you should hit your qualifying time. This isn't just any race - its foundation and competitive nature is in the qualifying time aspect. Same with Kona. As much as I'd love to race IM Kona, I have not yet gotten a slot because I'm not that fast. Yet. But, I would not race it without "earning" it. It gives me something to work towards. The few people who have gotten sponsored to go to Boston (that I have know of) did also qualify. But not sure that applies to everyone.

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    1. That would be great if it were true, but I know of a few people who have gotten bibs from sponsors and are not anywhere near qualifiers. I wonder if they are extra charity bibs?

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  12. I found a purse I really loved in Turkey a few years ago. It had a Prada stamp but I knew it was a fake. I made the salesman search for the same purse without the stamp. It's been a great $20 purchase but I would have been embarrassed by the fake stamp. So I most definitely wouldn't wear a jacket that I got at TJMaxx.

    I currently can't run .5 miles without pain so a free entry would be wasted on me. A BQ is a dream that has slowly died for me.

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    1. I never even considered that the Boston jacket was a fake. I've seen clothing from other races (including Chicago) at TJMaxx.

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    2. I didn't think the jacket was fake, I was thinking as myself as the fake if I wore the jacket. I'm no good at pretending to be something I'm not. Ironic since I live so close to Hollywood!

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    3. Oh! Thank you for clarifying! I'm the same way-- I couldn't pull it off. LOL

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  13. I would definitely run Boston if offered the chance through a company, or by fundraising (I'll never qualify, lol). As for the jackets, I would never wear any race day apparel from a race that I didn't run, including Boston. I just feel like that's so dishonest.

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    1. It was just feel wrong to me, plus how do you answer the questions about your finish time, your qualifying race, etc.

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  14. I think if you run the race, no matter how you got there, you get to wear the jacket. I did qualify for and run Boston. It was a really fun race, but I don't need to do it again. You feel like a rock star for the entire 26.2 miles! I would probably not wear race gear for any race I did not run, including Boston.

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    1. Same here. I feel like you have to earn the right to wear the gear.

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  15. I've qualified many times but never run Boston but I still wouldn't do it if I was given a entry. I just feel it's something I need to earn.

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    1. Do you feel that way because you've already qualified? It's interesting because the people who feel that you do have all qualified. The people that feel how I do have not!

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  16. I feel like if you ran it you earned it, but personally I wouldn't run it if I didn't earn it. While I think it would be super cool to get a sponsored entry, it wouldn't feel right to me. I'm the same way with the OCR World Championships...I've been close to qualifying several times, and there's a "journeyman" category where you can run but don't have to qualify but it doesn't feel right. There are just some races I feel you need to earn the right to run. Like you said though, its all a matter of opinion. I don't think its cheating to accept a sponsored entry.

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    1. I have mixed feelings but as a fading runner who will never qualify, I'd love to get a chance to run it.

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  17. I have mixed feelings about this race. I would love to BQ but have a feeling that I will never get to that point. I would love a bib as well but know that it wouldn't be fair (and I would feel guilty) to those that did BQ but didn't get a spot because of the time cutoff.

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    1. You wouldn't be taking one of those spots if you were given a comped bib--those bibs are paid for by the sponsors. Feel differently now?

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  18. I would accept a place: I could never BQ but I know people who've done it on a charity place and as long as I was clear on how I got in, yes, I'd do it.

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  19. I don't think I could take a given, not earned spot in Boston. It's also really not on my bucket list to qualify either at the moment. I would feel like I was forever caveating my race there with a "but I didn't qualify". The prestige and history behind Boston are part of what makes earning the elusive spot there so appealing.

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  20. I grew up watching this race and would be honored to run it if ever the opportunity arose through legitimate means. Once you're on the course facing those hills - if you can cross that finish line you earned that medal and jacket just like anyone else!

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  21. While training for my first marathon, I mentioned to my friend Miles that I could run Boston if I wanted to without qualifying since my husband worked for Digital, one of the big corporate sponsors and they gave away entries to a few employees and/or their spouses. Miles told me that no way should I do that because I was on track to qualify on my own. With his excellent coaching, I was lucky enough to qualify and didn't have to make the tough decision.

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    1. Lucky you! I have to admit that if someone offered me an entry, I'd do it. There's no way I could qualify now.

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