Wow, a lot of heat coming out of this topic. How about a compromise, at least for the money part - pro rata fund raising? We used to use that for raising money for our swim team. People would contribute 5 or 10 cents a lap, and you'd go out and swim as many as you could. You would set a goal/ceiling, and if you didn't get there, collect a proportional amount. Run 10 miles, get $10; finish, collect $30. Whatever.
That doesn't address the issue of medals for non-finishers, I suppose, but why couldn't these charities provide something? A plaque isn't going to set them back too far - "Thanks to John Doe for raising $1,500 for cancer research in the Sasafras Marathon."
In general, though, the idea of cheating, even for a good cause, rubs me the wrong way. Is it OK for our kids to cheat on the SAT's? It's for a good cause - getting into a better school. I know running - unlike my example - is not a zero-sum game, but it cheating in any form still sends out the wrong signal.
I DNF'd my first marathon. I could have come home and told everyone I finished; no one was going to look up my times on the web site. But what's the point of that? Instead of congratulations, I got words of advice and encouragement, some of which I've really taken to heart in the last 10 I've run and finished. Setbacks are just that - incremental steps backwards in our overall forward progress.
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