Saturday, September 09, 2006

No Walking Division in Columbus Marathon

I have volunteered as Walking Director of the Columbus Marathon for 4 years. During that time we added an early start for walkers, made sure water stops would be open the entire time they were supposed to be open, added 7-hour and 8-hour pacers, guaranteed there would be goodies at the finish line for the slower athletes, gave out awards for walkers, and finally guaranteed walkers were treated with respect.

Unfortunately, a lot of that has come to an end. I was recently informed that, though there will be what is called a "Walking Division", the only benefit to walkers is they can start an hour early.

Now, I'm confident water stops will be open the full 8 hours and walkers will be treated with respect. But there will be no awards and whether you walk or run really doesn't matter. Sign up however you like and do whatever you want.

Even though I am a member of the Running Community Advisory Council for the marathon and one of the Walking Directors of the marathon, no one asked my opinion. You would think I would have input on issues affecting walkers. At least, I did in the past.

In the overall scheme of things, being treated with respect and having water stops open are the most important, and I'm glad I was part of making that happen.

Still, when the number of marathoners who walk is increasing across the country, this is a major step backward.

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