April 17, 2006

The Long Road to the Top: Two Years to Determine Fastest Marathoner!: If there are those who think that the Stanley Cup playoffs are a bit drawn out, can you imagine waiting two years to find out who the champion is? Here's a post that is somewhat outside of the "big four" sports for a change. I think it is incredibly interesting to see the ways in which the marathon circuit is adapting to the demands for innovation in their sport. Personally, I think they should be applauded for some of these marketing strategies. The difficulties these strategies overcome might just help take this sport to a new level.

posted by Spitztengle to other at 12:44 PM - 8 comments

I live in Boston and love the marathon - it really does have special meaning for so many people, and the positive vibe in the city today (and every Marathon Monday) is really incredible. Add to that my finding that marathoners (and half-marathoners) come out of the woodwork around this time and in many cases you (me- the average sports fan) never would have guessed these people possessed the coordination to run around the block and I have to agree that the Marathon Majors concept is a brilliant marketing scheme. That said, the two year thing really bugs me. Who wants to wait two years to see who's going to win a championship? And if the average marathoner can only do two races a year and now they have to fit in five over two, does that mean we are unlikely to see returning champions back to defend their titles going forward? I always find the previous years champion adds a certain level of excitement to any race. I would also think the "defending his/her title" theme makes for good marketing that will be sorely missed. All that said, what I really want to know is what's the point of running if not to catch, throw, or hit a ball? That's just a personal aside, but something I'll never fully understand...

posted by MW12 at 03:23 PM on April 17, 2006

Everybody runs at some point or other: you run to catch a bus, you run to to meet a loved one you haven't seen for a long time, etc. Running doesn't require special skills, equipment, or an elaborately groomed playing field. Runners don't even need any special level of coordination; just about anyone can do it.

posted by richwtrs at 03:38 PM on April 17, 2006

Forgot to put the following in the previous post: I do agree that spending two years to crown a champion seems too long. I think the point of a championship is to determine who is the best in the event. Too much can happen to individual competitors over a two period to be certain that the eventual 'winner' is really the best.

posted by richwtrs at 03:48 PM on April 17, 2006

If there are those who think that the Stanley Cup playoffs are a bit drawn out, can you imagine waiting two years to find out who the champion is? With the lockout, that's exactly what we're doing... This is an interesting marketing ploy, and one that will definitely help the sport (to those that peripherally watch), but as previously mentioned, over a two year period it'd be hard to keep interest and defenders focused on a single prize. Perhaps if they staggered it. Every single year, you declare a champion for the previous two seasons -- so there'd be overlap, but also people focusing on their own specific championships.

posted by mkn at 04:02 PM on April 17, 2006

You are a different kind of athlete when you are a marothoner and I'm not making fun of them I respect them because I couldn't do that in a million years so I think it's a good idea and maybe it will add something to it

posted by luther70 at 05:05 PM on April 17, 2006

The reason for the two year cycle is that of the five majors that are in the circuit; two, Boston and London, are in April each year. Chicago, Berlin, and New York are in October and early November. I think it is a good idea to have some sort of overall championship, but I can see this being a blow to some of the smaller (non-major) marathons. Races like the Twin Cities, Grandma's (in Duluth, Mn), the LA and San Francisco, will not be able to draw the top names since they are the same week as, or very shortly before, one of the Majors. One thing that may be able to work, is to put certain races in different categories, say the Majors in an Elite division with points awarded as planned, the next tier of races, in competition level and size, in the next with slightly lower points awarded, and so on. Then a racer would accumulate points for a predetrmined 'X' number of races over a rolling 18-24 month calendar, with the award being presented each fall. This would give runners incentive to compete at some of the kesser-known races, taking a chance at getting say, 10 points for a first at French Lick, In., rather than 1, or worse 0, points for a 5th or lower at NY. It would also limit the temptation to run at more races, which the original article said was not one of the intents and something that they wanted to avoid.

posted by elovrich at 06:31 PM on April 17, 2006

There was no mention about whether they have any plan to synchronize with the IAAF world championships or the Olympics -- and if so, how? The worlds are in odd-numbered summers, and the Olympics of course on the quadrennial. I will be curious to see how the IAAF responds to this.

posted by Amateur at 06:49 PM on April 17, 2006

In fact, the championship will be awarded every year beginning in 2007 because the seasons will be taken as overlapping. Winning the 2007 Boston Marathon, for example, will count both toward the 2007 championship and the 2008 championship.

posted by rhickok at 09:06 AM on April 18, 2006

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