I was shooting the breeze with photographer David Patton on Thursday morning as he worked up a photo for a story on the ABC House, which assesses and cares for kids suspected of being abused.
David happened to mention that the nonprofit had raised something like $40,000 on a road run it sponsored in Lebanon last fall.
That in itself is really good news, because any outfit helping abused children can definitely use all the resources it can muster.
It also serves to illustrate how road runs have become a fundraiser of choice for many agencies, and how the running industry has basically succeeded in convincing people to spend money doing something they could do for free. It’s a market-creation success story along the lines of bottled water, designer coffee and greeting cards.
Don’t get me wrong; I am certainly not criticizing anyone who really cares about the success of the ABC House or any other nonprofit and buys entry into those runs as a means of supporting them. In fact, I think it’s fantastic.
I guess I do just sort of marvel at the number of people who turn out for the many, many runs held in our general area during the course of the year — several hundred at many of the events.
Myself, in the interest of full disclosure, I only enter races that the DH sponsors — that is, the ones I can enter for free. If that sounds sort of cheap, well, guilty as charged I guess. To be fair to myself, though, I do donate time and resources to my two favorite nonprofits — CARDV and SafeHaven Humane Society — with a fair bit of regularity.
In my life, I think I have competed in nine races overall — the first two I paid for, the last seven the DH has picked up the tab on. They’ve all been 5K’s except for the last one, which was something like 5.2 miles.
I also, in June 2001, just to see if I could cover marathon distance, made my way from Harrisburg to the DH along Highway 99E. I didn’t actually train or anything, meaning the 75 minutes it took to run the first nine miles, to Halsey, was actually a pretty fast time. The middle third, a mix of running and walking, was significantly slower, and the final third was something best described as a stagger.
It took six hours, but I was determined to complete the journey under my own power, and I did that.
A few weeks ago Patton, who has become quite a serious runner, did his own personal marathon, significantly faster than I did mine. He also said someone asked him if he was now going to do a “real” marathon — one with number bibs, official timing, other runners, etc. — as if there was something illegitimate about running 26.2 miles by yourself.
He doesn’t think he will. I know I won’t. Marathon solitaire was plenty good enough for me.
That said, I do sort of enjoy the organized/competitive aspect of a structured road run. Mainly, it’s kind of fun, in an exhausted, nauseated sort of way, to sprint for the finish line and try to make the number on the digital clock be as low as possible.
But not any more fun than running in the woods with my dog. Just different.