Not a Real Runner?

Over the weekend, something a little disturbing was brought to the attention of the running community.  I found out about it through Half Fanatics.

At the Destin Half Marathon, a woman was pulled from the course for running intervals.  Why?  Because the race was for runners only, not walkers.

Here are the facts as I understand them:

  1. The race had a posted 3 hour time limit
  2. The waiver does say “Run Only” at the top, but nowhere is it stated that interval runners aren’t welcome, and the average person may think this is to differentiate from the walker friendly 5K (the 10K and half were listed as “Run Only”).
  3. This would have been the runner’s 18th half marathon.
  4. To stay within the 3 hour limit, one must run an average of a 13:44 pace or less.
  5. She was picked up in the first mile while run/walking at an average 11:50 pace.
  6. She admits that at this point, she was the last runner, but as many Galloway runners know, you very quickly begin to “pick off” other runners who started out too fast.
  7. As of this writing, she has received no apology or refund.

I know people who have qualified for Boston doing a run/walk pattern.  Many have found that they run stronger by doing a run/walk pattern.  Clearly, Jeff Galloway was onto something when he began to promote this strategy.  Sure, it’s not for everyone, but it works.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully agree with race time-limits.  I wouldn’t call a half with a 3 hour time limit walker friendly.  That said, I don’t consider a Galloway runner a walker.  Additionally, if a race-walker wanted to show up, I wouldn’t think the race would be unfriendly to them.  Those people are FAST!

Some people complain that the slow runners are “dumbing down their sport,” and to them, I just roll my eyes.  I hate to see that impression.  And for a race to treat a runner in this manner just continues that attitude.  I hope this runner receives an apology and a refund.  Unfortunately, she is not local to Destin and also traveled for the race, so she is out that money as well.  But she did not deserve to be treated in this manner and I hope no other Galloway runner suffers this fate.


6 thoughts on “Not a Real Runner?

  1. I totally agree with you.

    As long as a walker is not blocking runners (and obviously, being in last place at that point, she was not blocking anyone) there is no excuse for disqualifying her. Many runners — that is, people who had intended to run the entire distance — may find themselves taking a walking break for a variety of reasons (they had gone out too fast or there was a steeper hill than they had expected or whatever) and I’ve not heard of them being flagged by an official. I’ve walked for parts of races (once because I had donated blood the day before and was surprised to find myself totally out of steam — and many times in recent years just because I was tired).

    When I lived in upstate New York, our local racing season began with the Forks Fifteen — a 15k run held in March. (And Google shows me that the 40th running of this event will be held this year.) Given upstate New York winters, it was really tough to be in running shape for a race this long held this early in the season. The last mile of the run was a long hill — not that steep but it went on and on — and every year a race walker would pass me on that hill. No hard feelings (I bought all of my running shoes from that walker’s shoe store) but oh how I longed to be in good enough shape some year to make it up that long grade without being passed by him.

  2. Are we really that far gone as a society that we have to argue whether someone who runs intervals is a true runner? Are we really that intent on establishing our superiority over one another that we humiliate someone in this manner? As far as I’m concerned this is tantamount to bullying and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who did this to her have kids who push smaller kids around. My god. It’s a road race. Not the effing Olympics. And last I checked people have walked in the Olympics for one reason or another. This is ridiculous.

  3. K, sadly we are. I have gotten rude comments when doing a run/walk interval. From other runners! Of course, I get them back later when I pass them, still going on my slow and steady intervals.

    We’re not elites. We’re not Olympians. We’re just regular people, and in my opinion, as long as you’re just doing your own thing and doing your best to not get in anyone’s way (i.e. not walking with 8 of your best friends in a straight line across a course), you are more than welcome.

  4. I cannot believe that the race organizers would do this. part of the massive growth of road racing in the past several years has been due to the run/walk method. Without that growth many of these races would fail to even exist.

  5. Run/walk is how I survive! It’s how I train and how I preform. It’s okay if they want to set a time limit, but don’t pull someone from the course in the first mile while still being under pace. That’s just ridiculousness! I would never give that race a second look, and I would make sure my friends didn’t either.

    Such a disheartening story.

  6. Oh for goodness’ sake! What a shame, and what an awful way to treat someone. If she wasn’t causing an obstruction, and was within the pace… Sounds like someone being a jobsworth…

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