Bob Bestler

MB runners not so kooky as some

Some of my best friends run marathons, so it hurts a bit to say those kind of people are a little off-center.

Normal people, you see, are perfectly content to walk a mile down the beach and back and call it a day. Not marathon people. Oh, no.

In fact, I read recently that some marathoners are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to lap up the pain of running 26.2 miles. It would be comparable, I suppose, to someone like me ponying up $400 to go through the pain and agony of 18 holes of golf at Pebble Beach. What an idiot, hey?

Many big-name marathons cannot accommodate all those who want to put their bodies through hours of agony. The New York Marathon, for instance, gets about 90,000 entrants every year and has to have a lottery to select 50,000 lucky names. (For various reasons, only about 36,000 actually run).

What happens, according to The New York Times, is that some who are chosen immediately put their bibs (numbers) up for sale on the Internet. One optimistic eBay seller asked $750 for a New York Marathon bib. He didn't get it, but another sold for $450.

The marathons deplore the practice. In the 2001 Vermont City Marathon, a woman wearing a counterfeit bib finished second. When officials learned of the deceit, both she and the seller were banned from the marathon for life.

Some desperate marathoners, The Times said, go so far as to make their own bibs. It lets them run - and avoid New York's $107 fee. Who is going to find the phonies among 50,000 bibs?

I mention all of this only in preparation for the Feb. 17 Myrtle Beach Marathon and to note how lucky we are because any of us can enter our hometown run.

For $72, virtually anyone can run in the Bi-Lo Myrtle Beach Marathon - at least anyone who began training a few months ago.

The marathon is limited to 2,500 runners and with three weeks left there are still a few spots open. There is also time to enter the Wendy's Marathon Relay, the RBC Centura Bank 5K and the Ripley's One-Mile Family Fun Run. Sign up at www.mbmarathon.com.

The Dasani Half Marathon filled its 3,000 slots weeks ago.

I confess I was one of the last to sneak into the half-marathon. I'm not off-center enough to try 26.1 miles: I figure I can crawl 13.1 miles if I have to.

Actually, crawling could be how I finish. I've never been much for training. Running is painful and boring and so is walking on a treadmill. It's not long before I'm safely back on the couch.

Yeah, I think you can label me normal.

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