Apparently a 5K is now called a “Mini Marathon” or at least that’s what a certain race production company has decided. I don’t know about you but I’m not really all that excited about this, then again maybe I’m just blowing things out of proportion. I tend to do that from time to time. For example, I can’t stand that Ironman is constantly confused as a distance when it’s a brand.
There are a number of reasons this could have happened but I have no doubt there is one major factor involved here, the “prestige” associated with the word Marathon. I’ve heard it countless times, “Have you run a marathon?” “No.” “O, so you’re not a real runner yet.” Turning a 5K into a “Mini Marat…I’m sorry, I can’t even finish typing that. Turning a 5K into something it’s not is disrespectful to many incredible runners and many people that have strived to do something that the majority of the population can’t or won’t even try to do. I’m not talking about people that run 26.2 miles at a time. What is so shameful about running 3.1 miles as fast and hard as you can? Have you ever watched a runner go sub-15 for a 5K? It’s impressive! Why can there not be pride in running 6.2 miles and having that distance be farther than you have ever run before or ever thought you could run?
Yes, running a marathon is an incredible accomplishment but so is running a 5K, a 10K, or even around the block. By renaming these races you are demeaning the accomplishments of what it takes for someone to complete and compete in these other events. Someone running a 5K should not be able to say they just finished a Marathon, however they should be proud to say they toed the line and completed a 5K. I’ve completed runs of 26.2 miles or longer as part of two ultra-distance triathlons, a 50K ultra marathon, and multiple adventure runs, yet when I’m asked if I have ever run a marathon I still answer no. I have never stepped up to the line having put all I have in to training in order to run the 26.2 mile distance required to answer any other way.
I have one plea for my fellow race directors, stop pandering to runners. Stop presenting an event as something it’s not. If you are putting on an obstacle or challenge race and claiming it’s incredibly difficult, step your game up and allow your participants to EARN that finisher’s medal. Don’t create a soft event and claim it’s tough, my fellow athletes and I want the challenge. We want to be proud of what we have done and what we have earned. If we run a 5K and put everything in to it, we should proudly be able to say we ran a 5K. If we put everything we had in to training for and completing a 4 mile cross country race or a 10K road race allow us to be proud of that fact. Then, if we decide we are ready for further challenges or new adventures, we will take on the other distances. And finally, stop treating running like a bucket list activity. It’s a lifestyle that I am proud to be associated with and honored to have the opportunity to influence it’s community through my events.
My fellow athletes, be proud of whatever it is you accomplish through our amazing sport. Whether it’s your first trip around the block or your 100th race; the best training day or worst bonk, each of these moments are valuable and should be respected.
See you on the trails (no matter how far we are running),