Boston Marathon Charity Runners: Stop Whining. Just Run.

boston marathonRunners during the 2011 Boston Marathon. (Photo by SkipBensley via Flickr.)

Marathons have always been for pain junkies. That’s only explanation for the kind of barmy impulse that causes hordes of seemingly smart men and women to line up like cattle each year in a race that none but a few folks from Kenya have any chance of winning.

And those are the runners who train all year and are fast enough to qualify. There is another category of zealot — the charity runner — who must cough up $4,000 for a cause in order to run in the prestigious Boston Marathon on Monday. Race organizers jacked up the price $750 from last year, and according to a lengthy piece in the Globe, charity runners — some of whom are too slow to earn a coveted spot amongst the silent elite — are stressed out of their minds that they won’t make the nut.

It’s hard enough to grind it out to the finish line, they say, and now there’s the added stress of turning into full-blown panhandlers and swindlers in order to satisfy their warped appetite for deep, sustained pain.

Allison Buzzell, a 25-year-old from Newton, told the Globe that locals at an Allston bar publicly mocked her when she tried to get at their money with some left-handed attempt at an Internet ruse. Christopher Collier, a banker who ought to know better, was reduced to that of a cheap Amway salesman knocking on strangers’ doors begging for tuppence.

The runners, it seems, are terrified that if they fall short of the required goal, the charities will charge their credit cards the remaining balance, potentially sending corporate leg-breakers to their doors at the end of the month to collect.

This year, the race has grown to more than 2,300 charity runners. Perhaps demanding that runners choke up more and more cash each year is a way to punish the pay-to-play crowd. After all, by the time the generally slower charity-runners are battling the first signs of mid-race diarrhea, the winner is already hammered on champagne and celebrating his or her new-found glory.

Instead of complaining about the pressures of conning folks into sponsoring their personal addictions, charity-runners should feel lucky there is a loophole to exploit allowing them to participate in the China White of marathons. No one is forcing these people to run. It is their choice. So stop complaining about having to raise the money, which undoubtedly is going to a good cause. There are probably lots of sleek runners who could qualify and didn’t get in on the act in time, so just be happy you have a bib, shut up, and run.