LTE: On Quitting The Marathon

From the viewpoint of a Campus School Marathon Team Chair who contributed to the decision not to send Campus School runners to the Boston Marathon this year, I would like to address Kendra Kumor’s column, “Not Afraid of Quitting,” published on March 24.

Firstly, I respect and understand Kumor’s choice to discontinue her marathon training given the unique circumstances of this year. As she indicates in her column, my fellow chairs and I were forced to cancel the Campus School’s busing to Hopkinton on Marathon Monday after the Boston Athletic Association announced shortly before Spring Break that unofficial or “bandit” runners would be strictly forbidden from running this year and subject to removal from the course. Our immediate next course of action was to organize and publicize a “Campus School Bandit Marathon” to be held on Sunday, April 13 (“Marathon Sunday”), in which runners who trained with us and raised money for the program can run the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon course from Hopkinton to Boston. The idea, although it began as merely a fallback plan, has been met with a highly enthusiastic response from the Boston College student body, and we currently anticipate a high turnout at lunchtime on the 13th, when most of our runners will be passing by, needing a loud BC cheering section to propel them to the finish.

Of course, the Bandit Marathon is not the Boston Marathon-nothing is. Thus, I take no issue with Kumor’s decision to end her training. I do believe, however, that her portrayal of that decision implies (maybe by accident) an inaccurate perception of the approximately 150 students, of which I am one, who have made the decision to continue training and run the Bandit Marathon.

Kumor’s stated history of avoiding “quitting” throughout her life is admirable in sentiment, but (need I say it) clearly untrue or at least unspecific to the point of meaninglessness. Cliches aside, every one of us “quits” every day, many times over. Haven’t we all quit on class readings, lectures, and study sessions? Haven’t we ended relationships or dropped classes? Haven’t we canceled social commitments? Haven’t we ordered food and not finished it? It is difficult for me to believe that an anti-quitting mantra can be anything other than a mantra. We’re all quitters, like it or not.

So Kumor’s portrayal of quitting as an extraordinary, unusual decision is off the mark. Her decision is certainly reasonable and faultless and seems to have been made with careful consideration, but quitting is not extraordinary; on the contrary, it’s the most ordinary, common thing in the world. What’s extraordinary and unusual is when we don’t quit, especially when it involves continuous, unrecognized effort, the type of effort that we all expend on something at some time or another during our four years here and which drains us of our time and energy but makes us, in the end, more proud of ourselves than anything we’ve ever done, and, in fact, different people altogether. Quitters though we all are, on occasion we aren’t-and those occasions are the things that truly matter about us. For me, and for the prospective runners of the Campus School Bandit Marathon, one of those occasions will be training for and running the Boston Marathon, official or not.

My fellow runners and I are not “afraid”-that unsavory word in Kumor’s column title-to quit, but we are determined not to, maybe even brave enough not to, because we know that we quit far too often already, and for better or worse we’ve decided that, just this once, we won’t. Runners, I’ll see you at the finish line.

Jim Andersen
Campus School Marathon Team Chair
A&S ’14 

 

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