Saturday, March 10, 2007

El bandito, Part 2

There are two sides ( maybe more) to every story. Here's a letter AGAINST bandits. What do you think? I'll chime in tomorrow.

Have a great long run tomorrow. Only a few more weeks before Marathon Monday.

Barry Klein's letter ("Bandits good for Marathon," April 24, pg. 6) justifies the intrusion of illegal, non-fee-paying runners in the Boston Marathon (hence the term, "bandit") by pointing out that while volunteering is great, there is no better feeling than when you cross the marathon finish line. I agree that this must be a great feeling, but I have to object to the disrespectful manner in which Klein challenges an earlier letter by Kate Ramey ("Bandits bad for marathon," April 22, pg. 16), who correctly points out the harm that bandits cause to qualified runners in the marathon.

Klein essentially ignores the entire point of Ramey's letter by assuming without justification that the Boston Marathon officially allows bandits to run. If Klein had checked the Boston Athletic Association's Frequently Asked Questions website before writing his letter, he would have realized that bandits are in fact prohibited from running. The site reads, "I will never be able to qualify. Can I run the race as an unofficial or 'bandit' runner, or is there any other way I could officially enter?" The answer? "No, please do not run if you have not officially entered in the race.

Race amenities along the course and at the finish, such as fluids, medical care and traffic safety, are provided based on the number of official entrants. Any addition to this by way of unofficial participants adversely affects the ability to ensure a safe race for everyone. The BAA makes a limited number of non-qualified entries available to local charities for fundraising purposes. If you have not qualified and want to participate, this may be an option for you. See our list of official 2004 Boston Marathon charities." This is exactly the assertion that Ramey makes in her letter, and Klein should have done his homework before contradicting her on such a basic point.

As far as Klein's "advertising" theory goes, race resources are finite and the more bandits who take Gatorade, Powerbars and space blankets, the fewer resources are available for the qualified runners who paid for those resources. When my friend ran the Boston Half-Marathon, by the time she reached the Franklin Park Zoo, there was no Gatorade left, whether or not Gatorade wanted more "advertising" for the runners. While this was probably a mistake on the BAA's part, not the fault of bandits, the fact remains that when Gatorade runs out, there is none left for legitimate race participants. Qualified runners paid for these resources through their race fees, and it is wrong for bandits to take their resources without paying for them.

Klein concludes by asking what is holding Ramey back from running as a bandit in the Boston Marathon. Clearly it is the fact that she is a person of good conscience who has respect for the runners that qualify for and pay to participate in the Boston Marathon.

Timothy J. Manion