Here in Massachusetts we've begun what some of us call "Marathon Week". It's the week leading up to the BAA Boston Marathon. The 110th running of the Boston Marathon will be a little different this year as it will begin with a wave start. Having started my career at the marathon office, I have to say that if Dave McGillivray thinks this is a good thing for the race then it is. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Marketers have a field day in Boston each year during this week. There is the Expo that is free to everyone and the official sponsors have their parties and get togethers, but then there are the companies that come to town to attach themselves to this grand race in any way they can.
One such company is Spira Footwear. A few months ago the company announced that it would pay the winner of the Boston Marathon $1 million if they were wearing a pair of Spira shoes when they did it. Sounds good, right? Well, according to this article at Boston.com, because the shoes have springs in them the sport's governing bodies have yet to rule if they are 'legal' in competition. So, theoretically, if a runner wins the race with Spiras on they could be disqualified.
So, Runner X might not be the official winner in the record books, but record books aren't all that the public remember. After all, who do you remember more Rosie Ruiz or Jacqueline Gareau? Say one of this years runners won with the Spira shoe and then was DQed...the publicity would be huge. They would always be seen as the winner to the majority. Also, the million dollars is much more than the BAA's prize money for the top spot. However, from working with many elite athletes over the years in Boston, it's not about the money, it's about being the Boston champion. It truly means something special to these athletes. To conquer this course and be better than everyone else that day, well, that is magical.
What do I think about all this? I think the governing body needs to make a ruling in a hurry and not put this on the BAA as the USATF says in this article. I also think that Spira is getting an incredible amount of exposure for little effort - they even have a section on their website "Banned in Boston". I will bet they will be in Boston this week in full force, riding the wave of this publicity. Are they right or wrong? That isn't for me to decide. However, being their marketing folks this week will be a lot of fun.
Enjoy race week everyone!
Just a running tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.