Sunday, February 27, 2011

Running Boom or Bubble?

In case you missed it, this year's Marine Corps Marathon sold out in 28 hours. Registration opened this past Wednesday at noon and by 9:00 Thursday morning, MCM organizers posted on Facebook and Twitter that the race was already 90% full. Around 4:30 Thursday afternoon MCM organizers announced that the race sold out in a record 28 hours and 4 minutes. Thankfully, I registered Wednesday evening so I will be running MCM on October 30, 2011.

Many of us on Twitter were amazed how quickly the race sold out. Historically, MCM has sold out in about a week. Social media is definitely playing a part in races selling out faster than ever. Facebook and Twitter have given race organizers additional avenues to promote their races as well as provide updates when races are nearing capacity.

I think there's something else going on part of which has me excited and part of which has me worried. I'm excited because more people are taking up running. When I first started running, I saw very few other runners in my neighborhood. I've started to notice a lot more recently. Several co-workers have told me they've started couch to 5k programs. Not only is it good for the sport but more people have also decided to start making healthier choices.

What worries me is that people might be choosing to run a marathon because of peer pressure or because it's something they want to cross of their bucket lists. This notion that someone is not considered a "real runner" until they've run a marathon is completely absurd. Twitter friend Michael mentioned that his wife was feeling pressured to run a marathon because he does. She has run a 15k and would like to run a half. Is she any less of a runner than Michael? Last year, a close friend of mine ran his first 5k and 5 mile races. The farthest he may run is a half marathon. Is he any less of runner than me? There is nothing wrong with being a recreational runner or a weekend warrior. The marathon is not for everyone. It requires hundreds of hours of training, dedication, supportive friends/significant other/spouse, and lifestyle changes. It's not easy, and if the reason you do it is because your friend is a marathoner or because you saw it on the "Biggest Loser" you'll get burned out and/or injured. That is bad for the sport. This sudden interest in the marathon may not quite the running boom everyone thinks it is but it's more like a running bubble waiting to burst.

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