There’s been some discussion about the cutoff times for the Milo Marathon. If this year’s event is the same as last year’s, then the cutoff time for the 42K is 6 hours. That’s 6 hours after the official start of the race. Which means that if you are somewhere in the back of the pack, you will have to finish the run in something like 5:45. Gulp! Given that I ran the Condura Skyway Marathon—my first ever marathon—in 6 hours does give me pause. Can I shave 15 minutes off my time? It would indeed be a frustration—not to mention a humiliation—to go through the effort of running 42K only to have no recorded time!
Some have welcome the existence of a cutoff time; others don’t. Those who don’t like cutoff times give a slew of reasons—it’s elitist, it eliminates those who want to “run for fun,” it’s not novice-friendly.
Sorry, folks, but if you truly want to “run for fun,” you can do that on your own.
If I had my way, all races should have cutoff times. Ok, maybe not the type where the organizers sweep you off the route if you don’t meet the cutoff, but there should be at least cutoff times for certain awards. Maybe finishers can get the T-shirt but those who meet the cutoff time get something special. If everybody gets a medal, even the dude who walked the entire 10K in 3 hours, then what value is that medal?
I remember one 5K run that I joined after years of a sedentary lifestyle. It was a small, school-sponsored event and T-shirts were given for the first 100 finishers. I missed the cutoff and it was frustrating. I saw one of the marshalls handing out the shirts close to the finish line and when I asked for mine, she simply raised her palms up, the universally-accepted signal that stocks have run out. I am a competitive man and the fact that I was not one of the 100 people who had finisher shirts did not sit well with me. This fueled my desire to get better. I was still a newbie when it came to organized races and I didn’t know that most of the races gave freebies to all finishers. And because of that I don’t put much value in the freebies nowadays.
So if I am not an elite runner and I don’t join for the freebies, then why do I signup for organized runs? Sometimes it’s the allure of running in a different and picturesque locale. Now it’s because I want to push myself. At first I joined races because I just wanted to finish the distance; now I run because I want to finish the distance with an official PR, a time that is validated by another party, preferably through the use of race-chip technology. GPS can be inaccurate. And if I just wanted a simple run, then I could run anywhere. There was a time when my goal was just to finish a 5K in less than 30 minutes; now my goal for the Natgeo 21K is to finish in less than 2:06, and my goal for the Milo Marathon is to finish in less than 6 hours. With each run my goals become loftier. I admit that I do get motivated by the crowds, the competition, ther runners, the atmosphere, the fanfare. In a race my time is obviously faster than when I run alone.
In short, I run for the challenge.
Someone commented that putting a cutoff time reduces the number of runners who are “nakiusong pasaway,” which I interpret as runners who join only because it’s trendy or chic. Some people took offense to that. I don’t think organizers establish a cutoff time as a discriminatory tactic. Organizers impose a cutoff because otherwise that would mean that people are still on the road when the hot summer sun is up. That would pose a health risk to the runner! So if you are worried about the not making the cutoff times for a particular run, then I would suggest you look at other events. I joined the Condura Marathon as my first marathon because it had an 8-hour cutoff and I knew I would finish before that.
Of course, the alternative would be to train so that you would finish the run before the cutoff. I am putting a lot of effort in training for a marathon so I finish preferably with a time of 5:30. I’m reading a lot about marathon training. I’m reading about “increasing lactic acid threshold” and “mental toughness.” I’m running at a minimum of 4 times a week. I do long runs on weekends. The cutoff for the Milo Marathon is 6 hours. There lies the challenge. And . . .
So what’s your stand on cutoff times? Are you for or against? Feel free to give your side!