Scaff-Ter-Thoughts 12-16-2012

by Jack H. Scaff Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.M.

Scaff-Ter-Thoughts is a name that came to me (actually submitted by a very close lawyer friend in London) as a way of presenting or abstracting some of the thoughts I might use in more formal professional presentations.  The comments while perhaps seeming outrageous (I intend it that way in order to get you to read it) nevertheless represent not only a distillation of the current references but based on years of background experience (after all I am on the Expert Panel with the American College of Sports Medicine) that leads me to believe that these opinions are not only scientifically correct, with merit and will stand the test of time.   To the best of my ability I will always include the proper reference.

I have just been invited to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Boston Marathon, and if you need some help back there in Boston let me know.  Turns out that I can get more speaking engagements than I have time to do, but I like to talk and let people know how WE are changing the face of health one person, and one marathon, at a time because that is what we’re doing and as a physician I feel very good that way.

The Honolulu Marathon is called “The People’s Marathon”.  There were about 26,000 runners.  I would like your feedback on this, whether I should pursue this philosophically or not, it’s not necessarily a criticism.

This year the median time to complete the Honolulu Marathon moved up to 5 hours, about 4:45.  That means that at 5 hours half the people were still on the field.

We are the ones who are the engines of the economy of the marathon.  If you didn’t pay the $26 this year, the cost to enter the Honolulu Marathon got pretty high.  So we have a right to think about how that’s all being spent.  Race directors don’t like people on the course that long, however, it’s us people in the back that make the runners up front look good, and they’re going to have to get used to it if they want to make money.

Consider this:  How many people in this year’s marathon broke 3 hours?  Only 77.  That’s nothing!  Go look at the newspaper.  And of that those were all the paid runners, of which over the $200,000 in cash went out.  They don’t come here to put money into the economy, they take it with them!  If you divide $200,000 probably more than that, into however many runners entered it comes out to about $6 per entry.  Is it worth it?  I don’t know.  I’d like your feedback. I think putting that money into the race would be something worth doing.  The Honolulu Marathon has plenty, they can still do a little bit of both.

People say, “How many wouldn’t have entered if the lead runners hadn’t have come?”  Thing is, they don’t run any faster than they have to, so that they can run again.  So we have the world’s fastest marathon runner but he ran quite a bit slower than his winning time; he ran fast enough to pick up the $40K and then go home again.

People say, “Well how can you be recognized as a world-class marathon if you don’t bring in world-class runners?”  Well Portland doesn’t pay their runners, and they are a people’s marathon.  What happens is the people who are moving up the chain go to be recognized.  If they come here to Honolulu and all the world-class are ahead of them nobody knows about them.

A number of years ago in the beginning Allison Roe, a female runner from New Zealand wrote to me, “If you could pay my airfare which is less than $400, I’ll run the Honolulu Marathon.”  We had a $2 entry fee in those days.  We didn’t have the money to pay her.  That year she won the Boston Marathon.  Wouldn’t it have been nice if she had been exposed here?  “Honolulu Marathon winner wins Boston Marathon.”  THAT’S how you get these people that are coming up, and there are a lot of good runners out there that do not need a lot of appearance money.

That’s just sort of my philosophy of all this because I would like to work and make the Honolulu Marathon even bigger and better than it is.