Happy Marathon Monday! Right now I'm grouchily watching the livestream of the Boston Marathon while doing work, because I have a ton of work to do before book club meeting tonight.
Over at Salty Running today, the question came up of what people think of Boston charity runners. Does letting in charity runners diminish the prestige of the race?
Personally, I would not run Boston as a charity runner without ever qualifying...and I speak as someone for whom it's more likely than not that charity running is the only way I will ever be able to run Boston. (Note for the uninitiated or people who can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that there is a world of difference between me running a lot and me running fast: I would need to complete a marathon in 3 hours 35 minutes or less to qualify.) I just...wouldn't. BQing and running Boston means more to me than just getting the experience of running Boston; I feel like there's too much history and tradition there for me to not give the race the respect it deserves.
I don't really mind if someone wants to run it for charity, as long as they respect the marathon distance and train properly for it. (And many people do!)
HOWEVER: The perceived prestige of Boston is precisely what enables the race to raise so much for charity. The bar to get in as a charity runner at Boston is much higher than getting in as a charity runner for just any old marathon, and thus the dollar amount a charity runner needs to raise is that much more, which enables charities to raise tens of millions for their various causes. In a single year. In an ideal situation, the number of charity spots would be limited for exactly this reason: scarcity enables charities to raise more per runner.
(Tangentially: I would feel better about entering as a charity runner if I knew I was able to qualify/ had already legitimately qualified. Does that make any sense?)