I am sorry that some of the rhetoric has gotten negative. But North does have a point.
The way I see it, there are many ways to "participate" in a marathon, including:
1) run it for a time/place (i. e., treat it as a race)
2) run it just to run it
3-4) same as 1 and 2 except replace "run" by "walk"
5) finish it just to be able to say "I did a marathon"
6) treat it as a long urban hike.
And to be blunt, all of the above are very different experiences, requiring very different committment and preparation.
*Racing* a marathon for time and place is worlds beyond just getting through one somehow. There is simply no comparison!!!
So, I wonder if there might be a new sub-catagory for RACING A MARATHON.
There was a time when saying "I am a marathoner" meant that that person actually raced it. Those times are long past whether we like it or not.
By the way, I've taken to racewalking and I've walked a couple of marathons (4:44 and 5:17; the latter at 6400-7000 feet elevation). Walking a marathon for time can be very, very challenging.
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