This yarn from Salon called “How Oprah ruined the marathon“, written by one Edward McClelland, presents a good/bad news proposition.
The bad: Reading this tripe has soured my appetite and got me as steaming hot at the Sunday morning oatmeal.
The argument is frankly stale and boring — recreational runners like Oprah or the Penguin who just want to finish, who just relish in the challenge of 26.2, have turned the marathon from “a competition” to “a self-improvement exercise”.
Blah, blah, blah, you sour old fart.
Some quips and quotes:
It makes me ask: Has this country’s marathoning spirit been trampled by hordes of joggers whose only goal is to stagger across the finish line?
If Frank Shorter inspired the first running boom, Oprah inspired the second, by running the Marine Corps Marathon. And it was a much bigger boom. This was not a spindly 24-year-old Yalie gliding through Old World Munich. This was a middle-aged woman hauling her flab around the District of Columbia. If Oprah could run a marathon, shame on anyone who couldn’t.
When Oprah expanded the sport, she also lowered the bar for excellence. For the previous generation of marathoners, the goal had been qualifying for Boston. Now, it was beating Oprah. Her time of four hours and 29 minutes — the Oprah Line — became the new benchmark for a respectable race. (That was P. Diddy’s goal when he ran New York.)
And so on. I don’t have the stomach to go back to it again for more, but you get the drift.
But let me just thank McClelland for giving everyone who’s trying to get fitter or faster a good excuse to get back on the couch this Sunday morning. Jerk.
Hope that cotton T rubs you the wrong way — big time.
Getting out there for the challenge is worth it, whether you’re a three- or six-hour marathoner.
ps: The good news … This morning’s long run is going to be a fast one. I’m all worked up now.