Thursday, April 25, 2013

The "New" Marathon

I've blogged here before about the Chicago Marathon (see other posts). It's been getting way too big and corporate through the years. The decision to run it is almost now on the level of mortgaging a house. People nowadays are paying quite a bit in order to be punished for 26.3 miles. But that's the easy part. The event gets sold out n a matter of minutes, okay a day, and that's if the system doesn't get overwhelmed. This year there was a major hiccup and about 15,000 runners had to wait and see if they were actually signed up. Many runners also double-paid by registering twice. A simpler on-line system has to be devised.

Once the marathon is sold out (about 45,000 runners) then the only way to get a number is to attach yourself to one or more charities that have been given a block of numbers for fundraising. How do I know all of this? Because I help promote Team CCO which raises funds for a local shelter. The team has all sorts of incentives for people interested in "Running for Shelter"--especially those too late for or locked out of Chicago Marathon registration.

Go here for more information.

Another event that I've participated in that ran (pun intended) concurrent with the marathon, was the annual marathon gleaning. That is right after the runners have passed the START line me and my friends fan out and begin picking up clothing off the ground. You see while the runners are waiting out in the cold, dark dawn for the race to begin they wear gear they don't care about so that when the "gun" goes off they simply throw them into the air or strip them off and leave them for other runners to trample over.

Sweat pants, pajama bottoms, the ubiquitous scrubs,
socks with the toes cut out so that they can be worn as arm warmers,

plastic garbage bags with holes cut for the head,
 blankets wrapped around shoulders. You name it. It's been tossed onto the ground. Some of the stuff is quality. Patagonia. Nike. REI. Northface. All kinds of technical shirts. One time a friend of mine picked up one of those Nathan belts where the runner had it loaded with Gatorade, vitamin waters, and other "fuel." Not sure why that was on the ground.

My husband and I have been used to in the past running around like raccoons pulling stuff out of the garbage, off fences, stuck in bushes, flung up into trees. Several times I've asked the runner point blank--hey if you're going to throw that nice jacket, just hand it over. And they did.

But the pickers have to be fast because there is intense competition. We're out there with the best of them. People like us with years of marathon experience, who come in and get the job done. Mike and I come prepared with huge backpacks and duffel bags, and then black trash liners for fast picking. You have to learn how to pick by feel, there's no time for a good survey of the article, either pick it up or quickly go on. There's time later on for a final sort.

I mostly went for the synthetics, the technical gear, name brands. My husband was continually getting bogged down with thermals and sweats pants big enough to hold a host of runners. Sometimes I couldn't imagine someone that big actually running a marathon let alone finishing one. Over and over I tried training him, but he insisted that super-thick hoodies was where it was at.

So this was our routine, our marathon day tradition. I believe it is all over.

After this week and the Boston Marathon bombing I cannot imagine having access to the start line; I can't see us being allowed to scramble onto the street with our numerous bags, climb over fences, and pretty much insinuate ourselves into the stands at the finish line usually reserved for Bank of America card holders (geez--what a scam!). Those days are gone.

The marathon is going to end up feeling like a NASA launch, with lock down perimeter barricades and high-tech security.

It's okay. i want the runners to be safe and all those families waiting to greet their loved ones. I'm just bummed because the world cannot go back into the bottle, back to where it was before bombings, planes flying into buildings, and some kind of naivety that was us BEFORE.

This October we'll have to watch it on TV.
Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

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