Arthritis Run Pains Many Competitors

Article excerpt

Last weekend's Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis in downtown Washington caused quite a stir.

Numerous runners were angry and disappointed because the 10-kilometer course was short by one-third of a mile, and the 5-kilometer course was long. Other runners were angry and disappointed because race officials ran out of food and water as well as T-shirts.

And making matters even worse, the race charged $27 for race-day entry.

On Monday, the messages on the RUNWASHINGTON online message system were buzzing. But the feedback was surprising. Although many people wrote that they were irked about the problems, others wrote back that they could not have cared less about the short course or the long course.

One man even went as far to say that if you wanted to run the exact distance, "then go to a high school track near you. You'll know the exact distance and will not have to put up with any unprofessional, overpaid [race management company] spoiling your race."

A woman wrote, "While the shortness is disappointing and a company may have missed its goal of accurate measurements, the real reason we ran the race was supposed to be to raise money for arthritis research and services to make life a little better for those so ravaged by arthritis that they can hardly feed themselves or walk, let alone run a race [regardless of its length]."

That's exactly what the charities who have invaded road racing want you to think.

Then why do we continue to call these events races? The word "race" is defined as "a competition of speed."

Road racing, under which the Arthritis Foundation race falls, is no longer dominated by people who come out on a weekend morning to "race." Our sport has allowed the charities to transform it into a participatory event, a large "fun run."

Why doesn't the Tour de France allow just anybody to "race" that event? Why doesn't the Kemper Open allow thousands of hackers to play through? …