I just finished reading the latest featured story on MarathonGuide.com shedding light on a questionable tactic by charities to ensure all their folks earn a marathon medal by bussing slower runners/walkers to cut off points. It's based on the Marine Corp Marathon organizers asking a group of Canadian women to return their medals after learning they fell short of running all 26.2 miles. Their organizer in explaining her reasons said this is employed by other charities, including Team in Training.
This disturbs me on several levels. Is this really standard procedure? And if it is, how must it feel to be caught in the crosshairs. I'm trying to sort if deep down those that earn a medal this way feel their individual victory is somehow tarnished, or if in realizing others 'win' this way it's justified.
I've always supported friends running for a cause and I've had many uplifting moments running alongside charity runners on a course. The exception, ironically, was the Marine Corps Marathon. The last time I ran it, back in 1999, charity runners in the rear got antsy and moved around the rest of us, creating a huge bottleneck just after the start. But by and large, I admire these folks for what they've done to improve someone else's situation as well as their own.
The exception is Boston: I still maintain that it's fine to run for charity but only after you qualify like the rest of us. Not everyone agrees with me, of course.