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Friday, June 04, 2010

Racer, Runner, Plodder and Walker

This post started the ball rolling:

And some are not really sincere runners. I'm not against walking. (I do walk and jog when I'm tired too). But walking after 1-2km for 21km run is quite ridiculous. (Considering the quite large number of them who actually started walking when we barely pass the start line)

And the choruses grew and grew:

  • more and more people are joining such events without the right attitude and god knows what. feels like they will all come together at the end of year again. what to do.
  • I agree there are more and more runners that do not train and run FM. One of my friend do not even run 2km for trainig but signing up for SC FM
  • anyway was kinda pissed off to see peeps walking for full marathon after 7km, and by 10km almost e entire pack is walking, serve no motivation at ALL
  • Completely agree with you. There were even runners starting to walk just 2 or 3 k into the marathon .....No problems with marathon runners walking in between, that's part of the sport when you feel fatigue, but please not just a few k into the race
  • Hey, this is a marathon. But saw so many people walking and blocking the runners, chit-chat?? Then next year better change the event to Sundown-rise Big walk 2011!
  • Those that stand very infront of the start line and run fast once start and then start walking at 6k mark till finished, they better go back and train harder first. If not don't sign up again, give the slot to other needed runner.

Inevitably, after every race, there is a lot of complains about the walkers. But somehow, this time round for the Sundown Marathon, there seemed to be even more and more vocal one at that. Is it really because there are more walkers? Even me, in my previous post had commented about the walkers.

Of course, those in the walking camp soon jump in to defend their right to walk:

  • Whichever method you use, I think as long as you tried your best & didnt block the faster runners, the perceived insincerity or sincerity of runners shouldn't really bother you, rt? After all, in a marathon, other than those Kenyan world record holders, for the vast majority of us, its us vs ourselves. Why get upset over that?
  • what is wrong with people taking their time and going at a pace that they are comfortable with? What is wrong with people doing a jog/walk approach instead of a chiong-all-the-way method?
  • what's up with all these elitist attitude? everyone pay the same money as you to participate. together, we fund all these runs and make them possible. who are you to judge on what people should do and how fast they should run? would you like it if real elites like mok look down on average runners like you and start suggesting that cut off for marathons be 3 hours?
  • Prob that's one way to curb those who wish to take a long walk and reg just for e finisher and ain't a true blue runner in them?
  • just because they have completed a marathon in sub-x hrs means everyone can/should do the same. Everyone is different and cannot be compared this way. No matter how long a person takes to finish, everyone is still a winner. As long as they have the courage to try, it is already half the battle won. Don't destroy the other half by suggesting to implement sweepers to clear the slow runners. Instead, we should cheer for them for FINISHING what they have started. That is true courage

And so the debate went on and on. The 2 camps - I'll call them the pro runners and the pro walkers respectively continued their slanging match on the forum. Let's look at some of the more strongly worded posts from the pro runners:

  • Why the hell do they signed up for a FM when they only wanted to walk from the start?? what pride is there to finish the entire 42km course walking and strolling when there is no official cut-off time?
  • Do you think you'll be proud of yourself if you finished a marathon at 10 hours?? If you do then marathon event don't meant anything any more.
  • but I suggest they can do it in walkathon or some where else, not in a marathon event, cause marathon is a running event, with some walk break is allow. That's the rule of the game and it's not suppose to be easy that's why people look up to marathoners.

And some 'nice' rebuttals:

If a person takes 8-9hrs to finish a marathon, does it mean that person did not train for it? Is it about timing or finishing the distance? And what is this talk about devalueing the finisher tee? It is a "FINISHer tee", not a "FAST runner sub-5 tee". Whatever people do for running their own race, it is their business. We should not judge.

events like sundown and standchart marathon is targeted at the general public. runners with elitist mindset complaining about slow pokes 'devaluing' their finisher tees should just go join elite marathons like boston. that's some achievement to really boost about.

If you are cursing the walkers just because you can run damn bloody fast, please for your next race of marathon be it SCMS or next year Sundown marathon, please go to the front of the pack and race from there.

Just who exactly is right and who is wrong? Essentially, the pro runners are arguing that the marathon is not the right place for those people who are not adequately trained for it and need to walk a major part of the route and takes more than 7 hours to complete the distance. Their grouses is that these walkers are inconsiderate, block the way of the runners, take up precious resources and slots for the serious runners. This poster summed it up so well:

  • Some people think that walkers in a marathon are pathetic losers who very gian the tshirt.
  • Some pple think that the rest are elitist snobs who should go to Boston.

The pro walkers point is that the runners got to start somewhere and those who are against the walkers are showing elitism. Their argument is that there is a place for walkers in a marathon and most people will need walk break. One went on to point out:

  • and marathon was never defined as a pure running event. it is just a long distance foot race, and running just happens to be the best way to achieve the best timing. if people like to walk, roll or leopard crawl their way, that's their taichi. why should anyone care? anyway, you should already be way ahead of them, or even back at home resting, so how would they bother you?

Here I beg to differ. Yes it is true a marathon was never defined as a pure running event but in the Sundown or even the Passion Run, these were organised as running event not walkathon. So those who were thinking of walking, rolling or crawling their way through, sorry, you are in the wrong race. If we go by these logic, then there will be people who want to roller blade or cycle the entire distance! So yes, the marathon is not a pure running event but the Sundown marathon is!

However, having said that, like one poster pointed out:

Marathon is a tough running event, some added walk break. If you are to take up the challenge for a marathon, please go train hard for it. And you'll be proud of yourself to finish with-in the cutoff time.

I think the whole issue, which has been blown out of proportion is not about running, walking perse but about people who never attempt to train for it and walked the entire distance or the majority part of it. And I do agree that such people should not take part in such endurance event. On Sunday morning, many of the walkers at the 4 - 5 hours timing when I spotted them, most of them were youngster. Many couples were walking hand in hand. So sweet but the marathon is not the time and place for romance of this nature. Unfortunately, I think for these youngsters, it was just another night out. Instead of hanging out at their favourite night spot, they just decided to hang out at the Changi/ECP; all 42km of it! For many, it was literally a stroll in th park!

The marathon distance is a grueling 42km. It is not a walk in the park and requires proper training. And if one had trained (whether adequately or not, that is another issue), then due to injuries, hitting the wall or whatever, it is perfectly fine to walk.There is no shame in it. But for those out there who insist on participating for the sake of participating or like some people said - just to get the finisher tee - I hope they will learn to respect the distance. Train adequately. If not for themselves, then for the poor volunteers who have to wait extra longer for them and for their loves one who may be worried sick!

And so my last words - there is place in a marathon - for the racers, the runners, the plodders and the walkers  just like there is space in this world for human, animals, insects and nature.

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