Gabriel Sherman: What’s your problem?

Check out this elitist view of “amateurs” who have ruined the marathon in this screed against slow runners from Gabriel Sherman in Slate magazine.

Apparently, if you’re not able to run a sub 3:00 marathon like the author is, you’re not worthy of running a marathon at all and you’re ruining it for the “real” runners. So, who died and made this guy the judge of who’s worthy to run in a marathon? Besides, since he’s at the front of the pack, what does he care who’s behind him?

Anyone who runs a marathon is worthy of admiration, in my mind. Someone who commits to running 26.2 miles has already shown more fortitude and self-discipline than 99.9% of our lethargic population. Would Mr. Sherman prefer all of us back of the pack and midpack runners sit on our couches instead of joining him on the road? I guess so.

Part of what I love about non-professional road racing is that it’s unlike any other sport. Unlike most sports, most of the people are not trying to “win”. And it’s the only sport I can think of where you get a mix of genders and age groups all competing against each other, all on equal terms.

Besides, Mr. Sherman is wrong. Those of us who really care about the sport know who Deena Kastor is. We’re just happy to be able to run in the same race with her, even if she’s miles ahead of us. She was miles of ahead of Sherman too, but he seems to have forgotten that.

6 Responses

  1. There’s a thread on this at Cool Running.

    Were I to adopt his view, a 2:56, it’s kind of pathetic for a 24 year old to be that slow. I would be long gone by the time he finally was done.

    I’ve finished 1 marathon, in 2:29:13.

    His 2:56 is hardly “front of the pack.” Nor is 2:29. So while these are times faster than most, there are a lot of guys ahead (167 men and 1 woman in my case).

    Some perspective. I have a 23 year-old niece who is running NY. She played volleyball through HS and college, but decided she wanted to run a marathon. She’s never been a runner. I asked her why (because I always ask people why they’d want to do it, because of the commitment required) and she said it was something she thought she could do and wanted to work to accomplish. She hopes to finish in under 5 hours.

    I think it’s great. She’s been following a training program and has set her mind on finishing. She’s doing the work, so I don’t see a problem.

    Sherman raises legitimate concerns about running for so long, timewise. Someone doing 5 hours is out there twice as long as someone doing 2:30, yet is pushing as hard. That does create problems. There are training issues too. If you do 20 miles at 10 min. pace, that 3:20 worth of running, which increases the chances of injury.

    But he obscures it by implicitly characterizing himself as a “purist” and with an unfortunate headline. As I’ve gotten more involvied with coaching my local club, I am taken aback by the consistent effort members put in. Many are not “fast,” but we all do our intervals and tempos and repeats with the same effort, spirit, and determination.

    Do I care about others in a marathon? No. My objective in this year’s NY is to perform at a leval comensurate with my ability, and to do that I’ve been training and training, as have tens of thousands of others.

  2. Thank you!

  3. Middle of the pack 2:56 Gabe and his pompous running club that supports him (, gives a lot of us fast guys a bad name. Even as a 2:26 marathoner myself (and never ran slower than my first one of 2:42), I would NEVER put down the efforts of less gifted or less driven runners. Sadly, because of people like Gabe and his pals, many of those slower runners that I respect and am often inspired by, look at us fast guys as we were ALL condescending assholes.


  4. she was miles ahead of sherman? way cool! he’s such a jerk, if that article in slate is any indication.

    i found your site [among others] when i googled “gabriel sherman” looking for his marathon times….

    anyway, you may have inspired me to really and truly try to get back into running again. where i hope to one day work back up to my previous level of “almost serious amateur.”

    translation: shuffles along in 10k and 15k races at the blazing speed of, oh, 11-minute miles. on a fast day.

  5. Time for me to make my way to the front of the line up and do my shoe laces up just as the starting gun fires 😉

  6. WHAT?!?! that a-hole sherman’s time is only 2:56 and he’s slamming people SLOWER than him? maybe us faster guys should follow him in a race and and gripe about the slowpoke infront of us.

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