I recently read a rather interesting article on Salon.com that blames Oprah for lowering the bar for excellence in the sport of marathon running. The article goes on to say that the idea of the marathon being an actual race is entirely lost, and instead of being an incredible test of physical endurance and speed, it is now merely a self-improvement exercise. People no longer run races to win, but rather to check off a box on their lifelong to do lists.
I personally think it's fabulous that people such as Oprah have inspired the less fit and overweight folks to get off their couches and into races. Anyone who inspires anyone else to get moving is OK in my book. Those who want to finish the race in two hours flat can still do so, even while there are less speedy folks bringing it home in the back of the pack. In the New York Marathon, Lance Armstrong finished in about 2:50, while Katie Holmes finished in 5:30, and the person who finished absolute last (38,554th place) did it in 9:51. Everyone, in my opinion, upheld the integrity of the sport just as much as Paula Radcliffe (who won it for the ladies).
What do you think about all of it — should the marathon be only for serious racers, or should anyone with a will and a way be able to participate? Speak up and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Let's do our best to keep comments respectable, so everyone will feel comfortable leaving their opinions.)