The last two posts both seem a little extreme to me, plus a personal attack - always a sign that the discussion is deteriorating. I guess that's inevitable when the topic is controversial (TNT discussions do seem to bring out angry comments).
Anyway - I agree that it isn't easy to walk 26.2 miles, but I can't agree that it's as hard as running 26.2 miles, especially if you're keeping a decent pace (nothing world class - just under, say 9 min/mile).
I am actually a little sypathetic to TNT runners who accept a shuttle across the finish line. This is wrong, and normally would and should get you barred from future races (I believe I read that the NY Marathon will bar you if you cross the finish line without running the whole race).
Problem is, many of them are first-time marathoners, they don't understand the competitive nature of the event, and they were probably assured by the people they look to as total authorities on marathoning (i.e., their coaches) that sure, this is fine, no big deal, the competitive runners crossed the line hours ago, the important thing is that you tried, we'll just shorten the course for you, it's normal, everyone does it.
Completely wrong, of course. It is cheating. But while I think the runners are guilty of cluelessness in the extreme, I doubt they had the kind of malice in mind that counts as serious "cheating". I'd take back their medals and explain the rules, but they should get out of jail once for this.
In the future, I guess race organizers (along with TNT coaches) just need to make this rule clear, along with the consequences. It's a bummer that you have to make utterly obvious pronouncements like "short cuts aren't allowed during a race", but there you have it.
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