Friday, December 14, 2012

"Running" 26.2; should we throw walkers under the bus?

Most of my mind fodder comes from other endurance sport sources.  Humor me while I walk you through my latest train of thought:

Was listening to an episode of "Running in the Center of the Universe" podcast:

Ashland Dave got into a major rant-a-thon regarding a podcast that he, in turn, had listened to, on - it had the author of the new book "Running a Marathon for Dummies" on the show.

Here's the Amazon link to the book:

This is when it gets tight. Ashland Dave listens to the marathon show podcast and is rather astounded to hear the book's author, Jason Karp, PhD, does not adhere to walking in marathons. Karp sees walkers as less than viable in the marathon community. He agrees marathon running gets people off the couch, but insists that on his purist side marathons "have become something other than an athletic event...grandmothers are doing it. It's not supposed to be a walking's hurting the sport, it's not supposed to be like that, it's supposed to be challenging and difficult.  People want to run a marathon, but they are not willing to do the work necessary. It's hurting the sport to allow everyone and their grandmother into have to be willing to do the work. People want the shortest, easiest route to the marathon."

I'm not going to paraphrase the Karp interview, but instead would ask that you listen to the podcast yourself.  For many, walking is essential to finishing and owning the marathon experience. Much of my own Youtube video on efficient running is about getting slow(er) runners to the finish line:

Also, walkers are a big component to the economic context of many marathon events.  Many small and mid-sized communities now have marathons. Without the 5-6 hour finishers, the numbers who participate might be too small to support the infrastructure needed.

Guess I'm more of an "all in" mentality, but maybe that came over time.  75+ marathons and 80+ ultradistance event finishes will do that to a guy. What do I care who is ahead of, or behind me, in a race? I'm not happy with the fact I'm getting to the pace of a snail, but I sure don't begrudge the intent of others on the course.

This is a great point for discussion. Thanks to Ashland Dave, postcast and Dr. Karp for stirring the pot.  Drop a comment here, or you can go to Dr. Karp directly at:, email at

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I agree with your all-in theory. The great thing about races is that anybody can compete in any way they want. If you want to run without walking, do it. If you want to walk, if you're polite about it, how does that affect anyone else?