Well, This is Really Uncool

Aloha! It’s been a couple days since I last blogged. Last week I was feeling really tired so I gave myself Thurs. and Friday off!

Today I just wanted to drop in and share this article published in the NYT in 2009 entitled, “Plodders Have a Place, but Is It the Marathon?

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 11.02.37 AM

(First of all, “plodders,” really? I think that may be the most condescending thing a slow runner can be called, and I say that as a … plodder.)

The article opens with this gem: “having traversed the same route as the fleeter-footed runners — perhaps in twice the amount of time — they get to call themselves marathoners.”

(Um, they “get” to call themselves marathoners because they signed up, trained for and then crossed the finish line at a marathon, no?)

The article includes such quotes as, “It’s a joke to run a marathon by walking every other mile or by finishing in six, seven eight hours. It used to be that running a marathon was worth something – there used to be pride saying that you ran a marathon, but not anymore.” 

And also a quote saying that half the people at a marathon are just overweight and “trying to get a shirt and medal… looking to one day tell a story about the saga and the suffering of their 11 minute pace ‘race.'”

And this one particularly lovely one, “I always ask those people, ‘what was your time?’ If it’s six hours or more I say, ‘Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it.'” 

I kind of imagine these are the same people who think gay people shouldn’t get married.

Oh, you want to run a marathon? Better be able to do it in 5 hours or less.

Oh, you want to get married? Better be straight!

Why can’t we just let people do what makes them happy if it doesn’t affect anyone else?

Why would any runner feel compelled to tear down another person by saying, “Oh great, that’s fine, but you didn’t really run it.” Why couldn’t you just say, “Oh great!” or nothing at all? If you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe don’t say anything.

Most back-of-the-packers are pretty honest with themselves anyway. I know that I am. I know that I run/walk my long runs. I’m not under an illusion that I’m some super strong, super awesome runner… but I am a runner. And if/when I cross the finish line in Portland I will be a marathoner because I paid my registration fee, spent months training and made it to the end.

I’m not looking for some great triumphant story to tell someone 20 years from now about how I suffered through this awful thing, like the one person suggested. Why can’t slow runners find the marathon exhilarating too?

Plus, aren’t we all on our own journey? Someday I might run the marathon faster. Nicole started out running a 6:30 marathon and is now looking to break 3:30. I know I’ve mentioned her before, and it’s because she’s so awesome.

Anyway, the whole plodder article is dumb. I’m sad that the NYT published it.

It’s okay to think that “plodders” are annoying but maybe don’t publish an article that will make thousands of people feel bad about themselves when they read it.

Because yeah, at first I felt bad about myself. Then I decided the author and the people quoted are just assholes.



  1. August 16, 2014 / 11:48 am

    Oh that makes me so mad! Without back of the pack and mid pack runners, races honestly wouldn’t be as big as they are now which in turn benefits everyone as there are more race options! Charities benefit greatly from races and I’m not saying that fast runners don’t run for charity but if it was ONLY fast runners, I really don’t think charities would be receiving as much – I have many running friends (or plodders as this article seems to want to call them) raise thousands of dollars and guess what, it took them 5-6 hours to finish. But so what? They did it for a good cause! Okay I hope that all made sense as angry brain fog might have kicked in.

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:00 pm

      It definitely made sense! Raising money for charity is one excellent way slow runners contribute significantly to the sport. But really, I just don’t understand why anyone would complain about any one else’s pace. A 4-hour marathon is gonna seem really slow to an Olympian who can run it in 2:30. It’s all relative!

  2. August 16, 2014 / 1:40 pm

    The entire idea behind that article is ridiculous.
    So, is the guy on the Super Bowl winning team who suits up, practices as hard as the rest of the team but doesn’t play a minute of the actual Super Bowl still a Super Bowl Champion?! Of course he is!!!!
    Anyone who finishes a marathon is a marathoner!!!
    People are idiots!!!

    • August 16, 2014 / 2:38 pm

      Great analogy, Kim! Who cares? It is great to see people out there and it makes me happy to see people finish their first marathon. Each of them are an accomplishment, whether it is 3 or 6 hours. Meh.

    • August 17, 2014 / 11:48 am

      Totally agree! Great analogy!

      • August 17, 2014 / 12:04 pm

        Exactly! Of course he’s still a super bowl champion! He put in all the hard work and did what he could. Some of his teammates may have more natural talent, or he may be a rookie and someone else is a veteran who has more experience… but he did what he could and earned the right to call himself a champion.

        I just don’t understand why anyone who runs at a sub-elite level would want to crap on people who run at the back-of-the-pack. If they are so amazing and want a specific type of recognition for running fast they should go run in the Olympics… oh wait, they are too slow to run in the Olympics.

  3. August 16, 2014 / 2:26 pm

    What an insulting article! I understand if race organizers decide to put time limits on a race (for whatever reason), but why would anyone feel the need to tear other people down. Whenever I hear something like this, I can’t help but think, “Could that person run for 6 hours?” I mean, yes running fast is a great feat, but it takes a special kind of perseverance to stick with it for hours on end.

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:08 pm


      Plus, I don’t think anyone (outside of these people quoted) really feel the marathon distance has lots its value just because slower people are running it. The people who will TRULY appreciate hearing that you ran a 3 hour marathon are the people who ran it in 6+ hours and know how hard it is. Most non-runners don’t care at all that you ran a marathon. They might fake being impressed or interested, they might say, “I wish I could do that” but they certainly aren’t appreciating it the same way another runner would (especially a slower runner).

  4. August 16, 2014 / 5:59 pm

    Plodders? Really? I would be curious if the writer’s stance has changed five years later….prob not.

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:10 pm

      Probably not.

      It’s sad because you would think all people who run fast would be big lovers and supporters of the sport. Instead these people think they are owed something for running at a fast but still sub-elite level. They cry because slower runners earn the same medals as them …. i guess they are just special snowflakes who deserve some sub-elite-but-faster-than-plodders medal.

  5. August 16, 2014 / 9:01 pm

    PLODDERS? are you KIDDING me? This article is completely outrageous!!I can’t believe that this would even get printed. As a new runner training for my first half I am no where near a fast runner. They all didn’t start as fast runners–at least I don’t think so–and I absolutely believe that if you finish 26.2 miles you are a marathon finisher. I don’t care if it takes 10 hours. I can’t believe this!!

    oh by the way, hi, i’m Nellie I found you over on Kim’s blog 🙂

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:12 pm

      Hi Nellie 🙂 Congrats on starting to train for your first half marathon!!!

      I completely agree with you. Unless they have some serious natural talent, I am sure they weren’t always as fast as they are now. Plus there are a ton of factors that influence how fast you might run a marathon outside of your own abilities on a perfect day. A hilly course or super hot weather might turn a sub 4-hour marathon into a 5-hour marathoner! And there are some particularly tough mountainous marathons were most people are finishing 5+ hours. These people are just so full of themselves that it actually hurts!

  6. August 17, 2014 / 10:12 am

    SHAME ON THE NYT. I am fuming. The people who wrote this article are either 1. Not runners and are jealous, 2. Asshole, 3 Both. Whoever wrote this article probably just did it to be contrary and get publicity whether good or bad. I know people like this, and they’re the same people I have hidden from my facebook feed.

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:15 pm

      It’s really shame because I don’t see how slower runners affect them at all unless for some reason the 6+ hour runners are lining up in front of them, which I doubt is the case. As faster runners they can earn a special medal by placing or by running in the Olympics. If they are too slow to do either of those two things… then that should show them that speed is all relative.

      • August 17, 2014 / 2:25 pm

        ps. I missed you when you took days off. 🙂

  7. August 17, 2014 / 11:47 am

    Wait, WWWHHHAT??!!!! Is this seriously for real? I’m fuming right now–this is complete garbage. Why do peole have to be so ignorant? UGH!! This is disgusting.

    • August 17, 2014 / 12:17 pm

      Agreed! I can’t believe that the NYT would publish this garbage piece. The editor for RW commented and noted that she had finished a marathon both in 3:30 and in 5+ hours and feels she earned the title of marathoner both times equally. She noted that outside factors such as the course and the weather can affect your final outcome no matter how much you train and no matter what kind of fitness level you are at.

  8. August 17, 2014 / 1:28 pm

    IGNORANT…and the publishers, editors too. We all run the same race, we all fight the same battle. If you finish the race, you finish. Now I am fuming. In this day, REALLY?????

  9. August 18, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Ugh. I think I’ve seen that article before, and it’s obnoxious. I’m under no delusions that my 6:29 marathon makes me the same level of athlete as those who finished in under 4 hours. But that doesn’t mean it’s not just as big as an accomplishment, even if in a different way! I’m actually more impressed with my friend and her dad who walked the PDX marathon last year – that takes some dedication and stamina to stay on your feet and moving for almost 8 hours!

    I definitely understand if races have to have time limits due to logistical reasons, keeping streets shut down, getting police supervision, etc. Knowing that I’m slow, I make sure to check for time limits before signing up for a race! But I still trained and covered the same distance – I’m still a marathon finisher!

  10. Irene
    August 18, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    How arrogant and ignorant. Road racers could re-learn a thing or two from the ultra community. I just volunteered at the AC 100 earlier this month…everyone is just as supportive of the last place finisher as they are of 1st place. Indeed when the last runner came through our aid station we all practically held our breath until we received notice that he had finished, more than 10 hours after the 1st place finisher.

  11. August 18, 2014 / 6:30 pm

    How do people convince themselves to publish such print?!?! I swear some people have zero common sense. I would call myself a marathoner no matter how long it took me and so should anyone else. I do not like the term “Plodders.” It just sounds condescending. I’m surprised the NYT would present this!

  12. August 19, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    I totally feel like I’ve seen this before, or just a similar thought process. And what gets me is that the people who complain usually run 4:20ish marathons…not SLOW but also not super fast. It just seems silly that they’d complain about people choosing to run a marathon to make themselves happy. It’s NOT easy to run 26.2, even for those in great shape…if “fat” people are running marathons in any time at all, they’re way fitter than all those people just sitting on their computer typing tripe like this. I sense a lot of size-ism in this!

  13. August 20, 2014 / 10:44 am

    This just makes me sad. People will take any great moment in a person’s life and turn it into something negative. This right here is the problem with our world. People can be so narcissistic and self-centered, instead of encouraging others to live out their dreams and challenge themselves to do something that is important to them, they put them down and make their efforts insignificant. A**hole.

  14. September 3, 2014 / 12:40 pm

    SO after a month I am trying to catch up on what I missed…It will take me another month to read everyone’s posts I missed lol This was particularity disturbing, I say if you finish 26.2 miles it doesn’t really matter how fast you got there it matters you are strong enough to do it. I can be a plodder myself at times, but I won’t let it make me feel bad, agreed whoever thought this up is just an a- hole.