I mentioned earlier that I did the RunnersRoundTable on Wednesday with Marci, of the MarciRunsTheMarathon Blog. She has done NY as a member of Fred’s Team, which raises money for cancer research and is affiliated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital on First Avenue. (Here’s her Fred’s Team page.) There are many references to the team and the hospital (and to Marci herself (pages 105-06)) in Liz Robbins’s “A Race Like No Other.”

Afterward, I asked her to comment on my Charities and Races posts (here, here, here). Here’s what she said:

Admittedly, my take is biased.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of charity marathoners. Those who can and do run marathons who didn’t get in for whatever reason, so go the charity route just for the entry, and those who are committed to the cause they run for, and regardless of their ability as a runner, take the training very seriously because, as Jake said, there’s a lot riding on them. A casual runner isn’t going to spend $3000 just to say, “I ran a marathon.” For that $$, there’s a commitment.

I think that when you talk about the wisdom of having charity entries, the conversation veers close to “Should we let people who can’t run a four-hour marathon into the marathon?” I consider myself a runner, even though I’ll never make it to the elite stages. And while there are some amazing runners out there who run for charities — Fred’s Team has a number of sub 3:00 runners — most of us don’t come close. But these people put in the training and run the race to the best of their ability, and that should really be the standard for admission to just about any marathon.

There’s always been a certain number of guaranteed charity entries. As NYRR allows entries for more and more charity teams — especially their own — they’re not necessarily increasing the amount of guaranteed entries. For the most part, the amount of guaranteed entries allowed per team have decreased over the past few years, and the amount of charity entries overall has not changed dramatically. It’s just been spread around more.

On the other hand, NY may be unique in that over half the race entries go to those come in with one of the international tours. While many of them are serious runners, just as many are in it for the experience of visiting the five boroughs, and clearly haven’t put in the training. I oughta know — I get stuck behind them all the time!! And those entries aren’t going to be limited in any major way, because the marathon is, after all, a for-profit venture, and those tourists bring a lot of money into NYC.

I don’t think limiting or eliminating charity runners is the answer. I think what should be limited are the people who don’t respect the distance. How one does that is beyond me.

However, as far as Boston is concerned, I believe a BQ trumps a charity runner. If they indeed have to shut BQers out, I think they need to revisit the amount of bibs they reserve for charities. or raise the race cap enough that year to accomodate those that qualify by time and those who qualify by money. The main reason races are capped, by the way, besides overcrowding the race itself, is because of the legal capacity of the race course itself (believe it or not, Central Park has a legal capacity.)

My two cents, and feel free to publish this to your blog, as I may just do to mine!