On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How far is THAT marathon?

I got a message from my brother yesterday morning. It's bad, you guys.
Oh, RnR... you've done it again:

That's right, a "mini marathon." In other words, a 5k. But now, they say, you can "feel the excitement of 13.1 miles in a mini marathon distance (approximately 3 miles)."

No. No. No. No.

A half marathon is a different race from a 5k, and neither of these races is a marathon. Yes, they're all different distances, but also for anyone beyond a very beginning novice, each race requires an entirely different race strategy. For RnR to conflate the different races like this... well, at least they have the self-awareness to refer to this exclusively as an "event" rather than as a race.

What this Mini Marathon really is: a new, previously untapped customer base for them, and increasing prices for us.

Remember: RnR is a for-profit company. They are profiting off of you, and after Vegas and NYC, we can't even justify the high prices by saying that "at least they put on a great event." You don't need a medal for finishing a 5k - you'll always have the experience and the thrill. Find a cheaper race (here's one that same weekend that I think sounds awesome) and buy yourself a better beer at the end. I suggest Sierra Nevada Hefeweizen.

Sure to be coming soon from RnR:

  • the Des Moines Mini Mini Marathon. Feel the baggage check congestion of 13.1 miles but in only 800 meters (approx. the same distance you cover from the parking lot to the car - you get your medal at the start line)!
  • the Peoria Micro Marathon. Pay the registration fee of 13.1 miles but don't worry about breaking a sweat at this event of 50 meters (approx. the distance from your couch to your refrigerator)!


  1. I'm disgusted by the price of racing lately and outside of the Chicago Marathon, I'm doing tiny local races. No overpriced mud runs. No fancy smancy half marathon that is on tour. No zombie run that charges $65 for a 5k.

    I'm just saying "No". Not just because I'm broke, but also because it's getting out of hand. These prices are ridiculous.

    1. Agreed. And the justification that "well, they add zombies/color/mud/whatever" also pisses me off. So it's LESS of a race, and yet they're charging more? But I'm cantankerous and old school. If someone wants to do a zombie run, power to them.

  2. All the more reason you should start running "mega-marathons" in the woods. Drive to some podunk locality, sleep in a Super-8 motel, and, for less than 50 cents per mile, hurdle snakes and horse shit for 50+ miles.

    1. If you can find me one that is actually called a "mega-marathon," I will register RIGHT NOW.
      But seriously, Mike: what are the chances Dawn and I can con you into joining us for next year's Chattanooga Stage Race?

    2. Sure, so long as you do one of the Beast Series races.

    3. Sure! Remind me once they announce the 2013 dates, but any of the first three seem completely feasible. I'll need to do more trail racing then, anyway.

  3. This is pretty stupid. At least the mini-marathon part. I don't care as much about the medal. If it gets someone out to run that normally wouldn't because they want the medal, that's great. For some people a marathon is a complete unattainable goal and completing a 5K may be a HUGE accomplishment in their life.

    I'll still run the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half though. The last two years it has been one of the more well run large races in the Chicagoland area. And all the ACS volunteers are fantastic in their support of the race. I think they make the difference here. The Competitor group has certainly run awful races in other cities.

    Still overpriced, unless you get the earliest price.

    t1m07hy is your brother? Your family is all over twitter.

    1. He IS my brother! There are only three of us - so if you follow Mandy & Tim, you've got all the Musacchio siblings covered. But I was there first, man.

      I do agree with you about medals, though. They're not my motivation, but I don't begrudge anyone who wants one. I do begrudge, though, how events like this are changing the shape of racing and creating "events" or spectacles rather than old fashioned races. That said, there are still small alternatives for me, so I can let it alone. (Obviously.)

  4. I'm surprised the Indianapolis folks haven't slapped a suit on them yet. That race is pretty much branded as THE mini marathon, and I think people allow it because it's Indy.

    I've never done an RnR race, but this type of marketing pretty much locks down the fact I never will unless it's close to free. A "marathon" experience in 3 miles? Umm, no.

  5. Ha ha ha. I was embarrassed calling the 13.1 Chicago Marathon that on my blog - even though that is what it is called - so I addee [Half] in front. Not even mentioning the prices, calling a 5K a mini marathon really confuses people. I had a neighbor who told me he ran a marathon. A 5K. You did not run a marathon, sir.

  6. Any chance they'll be doing 'mini ultras' in the near future? And hand out mini buckles as finisher gifts?

  7. hahahaha.
    youre posts LITERALLY make me laugh out loud.
    they are funny,
    but more importantly...oh-so-true! And run from the cops sounds way more fun!

  8. Oh my word.
    Oh, rather, poor choice of words!
    A marathon is 26.2 miles. Half marathons make sense: 13.1 miles = HALF a marathon.
    But what the eff is a mini marathon? 0.1183 of a marathon? That's a freakin' WARMUP RUN.

  9. Seriously, I just stared at the screen for five minutes because I couldn't wrap my brain around the words "mini marathon." This is just another ploy to get people to register for a race so they can brag by using the word "marathon."

    So STUPID.

  10. (on another subject entirely: THANK YOU for your thoughtful comment today!)

  11. I kind of love the term Micro Marathon. I think it's just the alliteration, though. Mini marathon is really stupid...and kind of insulting. Can you imagine a coworker going up to you and saying "Oh you ran the NYC Marathon? I ran a mini marathon this weekend too!"