I find myself in the midst of a very un-Guerrilla Race type of racing year. Usually, I have only one or two races a year on which I'll spend an entry fee and hotel costs. Last year I ran the City-Pier-City Half-Marathon and the Prague Marathon. This year I ran the Boston Marathon and will run the JFK 50 Miler. And because it is rare that my family and I are this close to Atlanta, in the suburbs of which I grew up, during 4 July, I also entered the Peachtree Road Race, which was my first official road race. (I was ten.) I hadn't felt bad about adding a third race, as I did not need a hotel room for any of the races on my schedule.
That was my plan. Until the bombs went off.
Now, like many other runners, I want to go back to Boston in 2014. Unfortunately, I do not have a Boston qualifying time. Enter the Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon: a net downhill course designed by Bart Yasso (he of the famous Yasso 800s) and known for having the fourth highest percentage of Boston qualifiers of any marathon in the United States. It also takes place on 8 September, which gives me plenty of time to train and should still allow me plenty of time to get into the Boston Marathon.
While I do feel entry fees for races are high, especially for 5 and 10ks and Ironman branded events, I also believe that there is little wrong with finding a special race during the year that you're willing to spend some money on as a way to share an experience with friends and strangers who have a similar passion.
I will run the Peachtree Road Race with a friend with whom I graduated high school. Then, he was the best distance runner in our school. Now, we will enjoy the day by running together for the first time in over a decade.
I will run the Via Marathon in order to get back to Boston, where, if I can stay healthy, the Swiss Assassin and I will finally have a no-excuses show down, while we join what will surely be an electric crowd of runners and spectators out to prove that nothing can slow us down.
And in November, I will take part in one of the oldest ultramarathons in the United States as I attempt to complete my first 50 miler.
There's nothing inherently wrong with formal racing, but the costs are high, often prohibitive, and we should do more to organize our own events and forego the aid, the shirts, the medals, and the pageantry and run for running's sake.