Are race organizers bound by a national sanctioning body as to how their award monies are distributed ? Is it common wisdom that awards are made top heavy and not too deep ? For instance, for the 2004 LA Marathon a $313,000 purse (including the worth of 2 hondas) is offered for the runners: $25 K for 1st (both men & women) to $1 K for 10th. There are bonuses as well. Would it be so revolutioary if, say, $1000 is given the winners, and a gradual payout is made not to 10 places but to 2500 or about 15% of last year's finishers, with a minimum award of $50. I realize the world class marathoners would shun LA. And the finishing times would not make headlines. But the vast majority of marathoners do not expect to make a living at running. Yet they travel all over the country to run. They enter for every other reason: included as part of a vacation, socialize, set PR, meet a mate, meet a challenge, etc. The well-spring of marathon growth will come from this majority. But the cost for participation (travel, lodging, auto-rental, restaurants, good shoes!) can be prohibitive except for the leisurely, well-compensated professional. If frequent participation is expected for those with modest means, even a small cash award is helpful to defray these costs. Some might think that people will not run as hard unless there is a bigger carrot to dangle or big names to run with. Personally I go through great effort and expense in my training and give it my all on race day without any hope of compensation except to finish and receive a medal ! With my eye on possibly $100 I may run just a little harder. I think there is no better way to expand marathon participation from elitist to populist than to provide some practical, economic incentives.
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