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Fraud??? April 8, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.
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On Saturday, I listened to episode 91 of the Phedippidations podcast, by Steve Runner. This week’s podcast was a biography of Joan Benoit Samuelson, and it was interesting and informative as usual for Phedippidations. However, at the end of the podcast, Steve stated an opinion that bothered me: he fears that he will be considered “a fraud” if he does not finish his Fall marathon in under 4 hours.

For Steve to say that he could be considered “a fraud” is unfair to himself and to other runners. I applaud his goal, and I wish him the best on that effort. I hope to eventually do the same. But I find it offensive for him to use the term “fraud,” even against himself. I don’t think he meant to say that a 4-hour marathon is the dividing line between a real runner and a fraud, but his opinion could be taken that way. He probably meant that, given his abilities and experience, and with the right training, he should be able to finish a marathon in under 4 hours. I don’t disagree. But it is wrong for him to suggest that he could be a fraud if he does not achieve that.

For somebody to be a fraud, he must misrepresent himself. Though I don’t know Steve Runner personally, if you listen to his podcasts, he seems very up-front about himself, blemishes and all. If he is misrepresenting himself, he’s fooling me, because he seems very authentic. So assuming he represents himself pretty much as he is, would he be less of a runner if he didn’t achieve his goal? Would he be less of a runner if he didn’t even shoot for that goal? Should he be considered a “fraud” to call himself a runner? To all of those questions, I answer a firm and emphatic, “NO.”

A real runner has passion for running. A real runner sets goals for him/herself in the name of that passion. Possible goals could be a certain finish time for a certain distance, or to maintain a certain level of fitness, or just to be able to keep on running into old age without a specific time or distance. But somewhere there is a passion and a goal. Steve clearly has passion and goals. So to say that he could be “a fraud” if he does not actually achieve those goals is unfair.

So far, I have run two marathons. For my first, the 2006 Chicago Marathon, I set a finish goal of 4:45. I actually finished in 5:05:16. But that does not make me a fraud. I still trained for and finished my first marathon. For my second marathon, the 2007 ING Georgia Marathon, I set a finish goal of 4:35. However, I actually finished in 4:49:09. I improved over my first marathon, on a tougher course, with pollen allergies in full swing. I am not a fraud. For Steve Runner to suggest that he could be a fraud for not achieving his 4:00 goal suggests that we all are frauds for not achieving our own goals. I don’t think he meant to suggest that. We don’t deserve that designation, and neither does he. His passion, and our passion, make us all authentic, sincere runners.

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Comments»

1. dabigleap - April 15, 2007

Hi Paul,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and you are right, no sense killing myself. The choice for me is to run plague free, even if it means missing a race.

So… thinking about this post… since I just want to “finish” my marathon, that would put me in the… what… “abomination” category… maybe? yep… the abominable runner… that’s me! Think I’ll change the name of my blog… it’s kinda catchy…! 😉

In all seriousness, it’s about the journey and the challenge. There are only a handful of people ever capable of winning a marathon, but look how many run… That kind of passion and dedication could never be faked. That’s why we run…

DaBigLeap

2. atlantarunner - April 15, 2007

Thanks for the comment, DaBigLeap,

I hope I did not imply that anyone is an abomination. In my humble opinion, to finish a marathon is a legitimate goal, and enough to call yourself a runner. To finish ANYTHING (5k, 10k, half marathon, or whatever) is a legitimate goal. To just keep running around the block a few times a week is a legitimate goal. We all either have somewhere to go from where we are, or we want to maintain where we are. Either one of these is a legitimate goal, as it would be all too easy just to sit on the couch, eat cheezy poofs, and allow ourselves to deteriorate. Our desire to prevent that from happening makes us runners.

All the best to you, and thanks again for the comment.

3. dabigleap - April 16, 2007

oh no, no, no… I absolutely did not take it that way. I completely agree with you (although I do like cheezy poofs…). I was just poking fun at his choice of words and at myself. I never take myself that seriously. Life’s too short to get huffy all the time…!

I think he meant to say that there are some in the running community (at the top, unfortunately) that may not give him as much credibility if he can’t beat 4 hours. It’s an unfortunate way to think. I also don’t think he meant to imply that anyone who runs over 4 hours is somehow less of a person or runner. I think he’s just worried that if he doesn’t break 4 hours he won’t be considered in “the club” and nobody will listen to him.


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