I'm against this, sort of, but for complicated reasons. What I'm against is that when it comes to large races like the NYCM, there is no longer any pretense of running being something that's open to everyone. I know that. It's no longer the "lace up your shoes and go" sport that many of us love. But at the same time, I get that running is a business and I get that it's hugely expensive to put on a race like New York.
When I started running, I started running for me. I didn't wear a fancy watch, I didn't run any races, I just went out running most days of the week. I tried new running routes because I wanted to explore. If I was tired, I didn't go running. If I wasn't tired, I ran longer. I didn't keep track of how far I ran and I never knew how fast it was, but just how it felt (usually "good" or "sucky"). I ran because I could and because I wanted to and because it made me feel good about myself, most of the time. When I ran my first marathon, a couple of years after I started running, it wasn't a metaphor for life or proof that I was a superhuman who could do anything I set my mind to. It was just something that shook up my running routine for a few months and gave me a goal and my running some focus. And yeah, I was proud of myself after, but I didn't dwell too much on the marathon's place in my life... it was just an extension of the fact that running had a prominent place in my life.
But it's not like that for everyone. Especially in New York, running is all about your times and your training schedules and your races. People here are competitive, and many runners here have the means to be competitive. In New York, more than anywhere else that I've lived and run, you can buy the right running clothes and buy the right coaching and (through charities) buy entry into the marathon and therefore effectively buy a prepackaged life experience.
|Photo credit: Amanda Musacchio|
I get caught up in it as much as the next person, but running is not about medals or racing or finish times - it's about you. I'm way more impressed with someone who's been running regularly for years than I am with someone who ran a marathon, once, and then promptly lost interest in running.
That said... Whatever. This isn't all that different from charity entries that I (by-and-large) don't have a problem with. If you have the money, power to you. I'd love to see you donate it to a cause that I like, but your money is your money to do with as you please. And, if you go with the NYRR's "Champion Circle" option, you and your spectators will enjoy the VIP tent - I speak from experience, having enjoyed a VIP tent at the Chicago Marathon myself a time or two...
(If you've read all the way to the bottom of this rant, you get a caption for my gratuitous photo: that's me with my beloved training partner Tamara, freezing at the start of the Disney Marathon. It was really, really cold.)