Last week I was at the gym and grabbed June 2010's Running Times from the magazine rack. I only got through 4 pages when I came across this advertisement for Pearl Izumi's Running shoes.
Now, I am going to preface this post knowing this is probably going to be an unfavorable opinion. But I think this advertisement is very interesting for so many reasons:
A) I agree with Izumi. The marathon was once a test of will and now it's something any and everyone can do
B) I don think Pheidippides wanted people to just complete a marathon walking. He probably wanted people to well, race it.
C) The marathon is not for casual runners or walkers, THERE are so many events for those people out there
In October, this article came out and it was unfavorable on a lot of blogs. But I agreed with almost every quote. If you finish a marathon in over 6 hours, you didn't run it. 6 hours is 13:43 pace. I bet there are a lot of city-walkers out there who can run a mile around 13-14 minute pace. I am the worlds slowest walker and I bet I could walk a mile in 14 minutes. Now I just finished my first marathon at 10:11 pace and I think that is pretty damn slow for actually running. I never walked more than 100 meters at a time and I didn't start to walk at all until the 17 mile mark. I'm not making excuses, but I never felt like it was "MY" day on May 2nd. I struggled from the beginning and running in 80 degree weather didn't help. In my training, I stopped at lights and to fill up my water, but I never walked. So here is what I'm trying to say- if you do the training and you can run 20 miles at whatever pace, then you deserve to show up to the starting line of a marathon. But if you don't do the training and cannot actually run 20 miles, I don't think its fair that you show up. If you plan to walk a marathon, it's not fair to all the runners who a) want to run b) couldn't get into the race c) trained for the race. There are millions of amazing walks out there for people who want to just complete an amazing challenge- Breast Cancer 3 Day Walks, the Overnight Walk, etc. I deeply encourage all people who want to get in shape and want to start running. But I think there needs to be more baby-steps. I ran my first 5K 6 years ago, and slowly added more mileage over the years to become a marathoner. I think too many people jump from 5K to Marathon in one year just for the challenge which I completely applaud and encourage if you do the training. But if you do it just to finish it in 6-7 hours then its not a race.
Here are some quotes from the NY times article:
"Runners in the Honolulu Marathon have no limits. Race rules state, “All runners will be permitted to finish, regardless of their time.”
Last year, 44 percent of the field for that event finished in more than six hours — with some marathoners stopping for lunch along the course."
"At the Marine Corps Marathon, in the Washington, D.C., area, runners must keep a pace of 14 minutes per mile or risk being booted from the event near the 20-mile mark. A bus looms there, waiting to pick up those who fail to cross the 14th Street Bridge before it reopens to traffic. Those who choose to continue on the open course do so at their own risk, taking to the sidewalks or dodging traffic."
"The New York City Marathon, scheduled for Nov. 1, will have a field of about 40,000. Last year, about 21 percent of the field finished in more than five hours. The race officially ends after 6:30, though runners are scored through 8:40, when the timing system is finally carted off, said the race director Mary Wittenberg."
So at the NYC Marathon, almost a quarter of runners finished in over 5 hours. Fascinating no?
The truth is according to Izumi's I probably wouldn't be considered a runner either. Hell, I only ran 1 minute faster than Oprah right? But my point of even writing this post is- I don't care how slow you run a marathon as long as you RUN and train for a marathon. The people I am annoyed at are the people who don't do any training and plan to WALK for most of the race. And to me most of the race is anything over 2/3 of it. Just my two cents on this Sunday evening. I know you could never regulate who can run a marathon and who can't but I just wish the 'joggers' and 'walkers' thought about it before toeing the line.
Take a look at all the controversy the Pearl Izumi Ads caused when it first came out last year. Being in advertising, I do find all of this interesting. Because bad press can actually be good press because it makes you actually think about the brand and associate with it which could lead to buying the goods!
Also take a look at this video. I do videos like this all the time for my clients for award shows. I really do find this all so amazing. If you listen to the end, sales went up 44%. So... this advertising does work. It may offend, but it also works. However, in this search, I also found this blog. Which I see where this person is coming from. I don't completely agree with what Pearl Izumi has written in their ad, but a lot of it, I do. And I think it's good advertising.