Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top 15 Marathon Changes - 25 Year Perspective

1. The use of electronic timing chips. Remember the old procedure of multiple volunteers pulling off the bottom of the race number when crossing the finish line and then they would put them in order on a wire hanger. For those of you veterans, remember this procedure!

2. The use of the Ipod. It's amazing the number of people running with Ipod's. It would be interesting to see the statistics of the percentage of people who run marathons use Ipod's.

3. Cell Phones - How many times do you pass someone and they are having a complete conversation with their family and friends on the cell phone during the race.

4. No more cotton tee shirts - everything is "wicking materials". Don't we all miss running in the old cotton race tee shirt and having the heavy weight sticking to our skin during a workout.

5. The lack of the smell of Ben Gay sports cream at the start of the race (especially during the bus ride to the start). Now there are so many different products today compared to 25 years ago with wide ranges of smells.

6. No as many garbage bags "attire" used for insulatation prior to the race. Today, many will leave their sweat pants, jackets as all items are provided to charities for the homeless. The first time I ran NYC marathon it was unbelievable the amount of clothing laying everywhere on the course during the first mile!

7. Explosion of pre-race expo's. Even small marathon's are adding pre-race expo's for athletes to pick up good deal's on every new gadget available in this second "boom" of running and fitness.

8. Trail Running Marathons - the advent of trail running is exploding and last year was ranked as the fastest growing outdoor sport in the U.S.A. Millions are taking to the trails.

9. The training programs have changed for many athletes. Other than the elite runners, how many are running 70+ miles per week on the roads?

10. Marathons are selling out very quickly even with the expansion of the total number of marathons.

11. Online Race Registration - more and more prevalent and in many cases no more paper and mailing of checks!

12. The packaging of the 1/2 marathon with the marathon during the same race to increase overall popularity and participation among runners.

13. Aid station selections - Gels, bars, energy drinks, fruits, etc. Don't we all remember when the aid station consisted of Gatorade/Exceed and water!

14. Fuel/Bottle belts - many runners today carry all their nutrition supplies to eliminate the "zoo" at the aid stations.

15. The growth of "running for charities".

I love change, but sometimes it's nice to reflect on the old days of the marathon when I started with this passion 25 years ago. I'm sure many of you can relate and remember when we just showed up with a loose fitting cotton tee shirt/tank top, running shorts, racing flats, and the desire to see how hard we could go without bonking!

Enjoy your spring Marathons and go hard!