Digging Deep: The Race Time Limit

This week, the Columbus Marathon announced that the time limit for the full marathon is being shortened from 7 hours to 6 hours. The marathon shuts down much of downtown and inhibits a lot of the surrounding neighborhoods, so the change was made to help alleviate neighborhoods sooner from restrictions due to the marathon.

The Columbus Marathon is considered a walker-friendly race. They have a competitive walking division and awards are given out. Understandably, the change has resulted in some upset posts on the races’ Facebook page. Some walkers are very upset, claiming exclusion. Some fellow athletes have responded with messages of support, that perhaps what seems impossible is not or to keep working towards it, while some have been downright nasty.

I have no problems with a person choosing to walk a race. Actually, I consider distance walkers crazier than runners – their feet, ankles, calves, ouch! That cannot be comfortable. However, it is still a race. As my coworker put it, “It’s a race, not a parade.” It’s a marathon. It is meant to be a difficult goal that not just anyone can accomplish. Picking a training plan and following it isn’t always enough. Some runners train all season and are forced to drop out during the race.

Sometimes I think people get pulled out to sea with the mystique of the marathon. The allure of being a marathoner. I follow a lot of running blogs and have learned a lot from other fellow runners. Been injured often? Can’t stick to a training plan? Then maybe, just maybe, you’re not ready for a marathon. This includes not being able to make the cut off time. There is nothing wrong with that. There just may be some need for reflection, adjustments, and/or growth.

I haven’t run a marathon yet. I haven’t felt ready. It is a huge task that takes a lot of committed time, patience, and determination. It’s not that I don’t think I can do it, I know I could do it if I committed to it, but I also know I have a lot more growing to do as a runner before I take that journey. To me, running a marathon is about more than crossing the finish line and saying I did it. I want to do it fully and do it well. I would hope that walkers are the same.

Some people may have health-related situations that would keep them from finishing a 6 hour marathon. There are plenty of other marathons that have a 7 hour or longer time limit – while it may be disappointing that it’s not the marathon they thought they would finish, if their goal is to finish a marathon then the location shouldn’t be that much of a roadblock. For the rest, I wonder, if they adjusted their training and dug down deep, if the 6 hours wouldn’t be impossible.

What do you think about the time limit being cut down by an hour? Do you think races should have a time limit? 

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