Friday, March 09, 2007

El bandito, Part 1

Here are two letters I found online in response to a piece written about Boston Marathon bandits. The original article ("Bandits bad for marathon") appeared in The Daily Free Press, The Independent Newspaper at Boston University.

I'll post the letter FOR bandits today and AGAINST bandits tomorrow. Love to hear your thoughts--leave a message in the comments section below.

After reading the letter "Bandits bad for marathon," (April 22, pg. 16) I have to disagree. I've run two New York City marathons and the experience has been great. The New York Marathon does not allow bandits.

The only way for non-competitive runners to compete is through a lottery. Volunteering is great, but it doesn't compare to the feeling of personal satisfaction you gain when you step across the finish line. There's nothing like the feeling of knowing that you ran more on marathon day than most people drove.

The author of "Bandits bad for marathon," Kate Ramey, mentions that she has been a longtime runner and has dreamed about running the Boston Marathon. I say go for it! What's holding you back? I think it's great that Boston allows bandits to join in the fun of running a marathon. It allows recreational runners (like the author) who have long dreamed of running a big city marathon to do so without having to worry about qualifying or winning a lottery.

As for your argument that bandits take resources away from other runners, it just doesn't make sense. Gatorade, PowerBar and other sponsors are there to raise awareness and promote their products. Many of their customers are recreational runners. Therefore, the more runners, the more advertising.

In addition, bandits don't affect the qualified entrants. Start areas are designed to separate the competitive runners from the rest of the field. In your conclusion, you mention, "I just wanted to let students know that there are at least a few reasons to cheer participants from the course sidelines rather than actually run the marathon."

There are reasons to cheer from the sidelines (inadequate training, fear of injury, desire to energize struggling runners, etc.), but they have nothing to do with shortages of Gatorade or space blankets. I suggest the author of this letter spend less time harping on the downsides of bandit running and join in the fun.

Barry Klein