Distance running, traditionally one of the world’s most genteel sports, has been roiled by an ugly mid-pandemic squabble over who should get a shot at a coveted Boston Marathon medal.
Rival camps in the running world began snapping at each other’s heels this week. It began after the Boston Athletic Association, which still hopes to hold a truncated in-person edition of the planet’s most prestigious footrace in October, said it will award medals to up to 70,000 athletes if they go the distance wherever they are.
Practically within minutes of the BAA’s announcement greatly expanding its virtual version of the race, a boisterous social media maelstrom ensued.
On one side: Runners who’ve spent years training to qualify to run the real thing, including some who complain that mailing medals to people who run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) in Dallas or Denver will cheapen the iconic Boston experience.
“A dagger through the heart to someone who has worked hard to finally earn the qualifying standard,” one runner, Mark Howard of Salisbury, North Carolina, groused on Twitter.
On the other: Pretty much everyone else, including the plodding masses and runners who raise millions for charities, who counter that anything that helps the 125-year-old marathon survive the COVID-19 crisis is worthwhile.
“A virtual Boston race that invites everyone is a reason to celebrate,” said Maria Arana, a marathoner and coach in Phoenix. “It in no way takes away from my personal Boston Marathon experience or anyone else’s.”
The bickering seems to have caught many off-guard, if only because road racing has long had a reputation as a kind and egalitarian sport.
It’s one of the few disciplines where ordinary amateurs compete in real time on the same course as elite professionals, and where trash-talking is rare. As four-time Boston champion Bill Rodgers famously said: “Running is a sport where everyone gets along.”
A notable exception to that gentility was the 1967 race, when race director Jock Semple ran after Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run with an official bib number — and tried unsuccessfully to pull her off the course.
It also comes as the Boston Marathon and other big-city races are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic and looking for creative ways to keep runners engaged online.
The BAA put on a virtual version of the marathon last year, after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to first postpone its usual April running to September, and then cancel in-person racing altogether
But that was limited to athletes who had already qualified to race or had registered as charity runners. This time, the first 70,000 people aged 18 or older who sign up and pay a fee will be able to earn a finisher’s medal simply by covering the classic distance wherever they happen to be. They don’t even need to run — they can walk.
“For the first time in our history, most everyone will have the opportunity to earn a Unicorn finisher’s medal,” BAA president and CEO Tom Grilk said in a statement.
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Grilk said the in-person race, if it comes off as scheduled on Oct. 11, will have a reduced field to help keep athletes and spectators safe. Typically the Boston field is capped at around 30,000; the BAA hasn’t said how much smaller it will be this autumn.
Josh Sitzer, a San Francisco runner who’s qualified for the Boston Marathon three times, initially was among those who trashed the idea of giving out 70,000 medals as “a blatant money grab.”
Also read:Bangabandhu Dhaka Marathon '21 on Jan 10
“Respect yourself and the game. Don’t do Boston unless you earn it,” he tweeted. Then he had a change of heart, tweeting: “I was wrong. It’s not the same as the actual Boston Marathon, and it doesn’t devalue” the experience of those who meet strict qualifying standards for a chance to line up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
It’s been a bad look, acknowledges Erin Strout, who covers the sport for WomensRunning.com.
“If there ever was a time to put our elitism and cynicism aside, it’s now,” she wrote in an opinion piece. “Let’s welcome each other in, cheer each other on, and seize the opportunity to bring back running bigger, better, and more inclusive than it was before.”
Six times champions Dhaka Abahani returned to the winning streak in the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating Uttar Baridhara 2-1 on Thursday.
Dhaka Abahani suffered their first defeat in their last league match, embracing a 0-4 loss against league leader and title aspirant Bashundhara Kings, who clearly dominated the league table collecting 34 points from 12 matches.
With the day's win at the floodlight Bangabandhu National Stadium, The Sky Blue Brigade advanced to the second slot in the league table, securing 25 points from 12 matches while Sheikh Jamal went down to the third slot with 23 points from 11 outings.
Brazilian striker Francisco Torres scored first for Abahani in the 26th minute from a penalty (1-0).
Also, Uttar Baridhara's Uzbek defender Saiddoston Fozilov scored an own goal in the 55th minute while trying to foil an Abahani attempt (2-0).
However, MS Abdelrahim reduced the Uttar Baridhara margin in the 90th minute (2-1).
Earlier in the day's first match, former champions Sheikh Russel moved to fourth place, crushing newcomers Bangladesh Police 5-0 at the same venue.
With the day's comfortable victory, Sheikh Russel earned their sixth win in the league, securing 20 points from 12 matches while Police suffered their sixth defeat in the league and remained at the eighth slot.
Nigerian midfielder Ugochukwu Obi Moneke opened the floodgate for Sheikh Russel in the sixth minute (1-0) while Brazilian forward Giancarlo Lopes Rodrigues doubled the margin in the 28th minute (2-0).
Local midfielder Mohammad Abdullah scored two more goals in the 36th and 69th minutes (4-0) while Tajik defender Siyovush Asrorov sealed the fate of the match scoring the fifth goal for Sheikh Russel in the 84th minute (5-0).
Bangladeshi archer Ruman Shana finished with the consolation of a bronze medal in the men's recurve singles event of the Bangabandhu 12th Teer National Archery Championship on Wednesday.
Shana of Bangladesh Ansar, who qualified for this year's Tokyo Olympics directly, earned a disappointing bronze medal, beating Ashiqur Rahman of Army AC by 6-4 set points at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium in Cox's Bazar.
Shana, who finished sixth in the qualifying round on Tuesday, was eliminated from the event's gold medal race after losing to Hakim Ahmed Rubel in the event's semifinal.
Also, Bangladesh Ansar made early exist from the meet losing to Police AC by 2-6 set points in the men's recurve team event at the same venue on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Diya Siddiqui of BKSP clinched the women's recurve singles bronze defeating Eti Khatun of Police AC by 6-0 set points.
Mohammad Ashiquzzaman of Police AC won the compound men's singles bronze beating Ashim Kumar Das by 144-142 score.
Ritu Akhter of Police AC won compound women's singles bronze medal beating Bonnya Akhter of Ansar by 136-135.
Police AC took the bronze medal of the women's recurve team event defeating Ansar by 5-4 set points. BKSP clinched the compound men's team bronze defeating Ansar by a 222-218 score.
Ansar won the compound women's team bronze beating the ASPTS club by a 222-215 score. All the gold medal-deciding matches will be held on Thursday at the same venue.
State Minister for Youth and Sports M Zahid Ahsan Russell will be the chief guest in Thursday's closing ceremony.
Some 148 archers from 40 teams are taking part in five events each in recurve and compound divisions – men's team, women's team, men's singles, women's singles and mixed doubles.
The Bangabandhu 12th Teer National Archery Championship 2021 began at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium in Cox's Bazar on Tuesday.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russell inaugurated the meet in the afternoon at a simple ceremony organised by Bangladesh Archery Federation (BAF) and sponsored City Group (Teer).
BAF President Lt Gen M Moinul Islam (retd), BSF General Secretary Kazi Rajibuddin Ahmed Chapal and Tournament and Ground Committee convener Rashiduzzaman Serniabat among others, were present on the occasion.
Qualification round of the meet was held on the opening day.
In the qualification round matches, Army Archery Club clinched the top slot in four events— recurve women's team, compound men's team, compound women's team and compound mixed team.
Ruman Shana's Bangladesh Ansar finished top in recurve men's team while Police Archery Club clinched the top slot in recurve mixed team in the qualification rounds.
Besides, Ram Krishna Saha of Air Force clinched the top place in recurve men's singles, Mehnaj Akhter Monira of Army AC in recurve women's singles, Ashim Kumar Das of Police AC in compound men's singles while Rokshana of Army AC in compound women's singles.
Some 148 archers from 40 teams are taking part in five events of Recurve and Compound Divisions---Men's Team, Women's Team, Men's Singles, Women's Singles and Mixed Doubles.
Roger Federer is withdrawing from this month's Miami Open so he can spend extra time preparing to “work his way back out on tour,” his agent told The Associated Press on Monday.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not competed in more than a year after having two operations on his right knee during last season.
Federer, who turns 40 in August, is scheduled to make his return to the tour next week in a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar. He posted a photo of himself on Twitter last Friday with the caption: “The countdown to Doha begins.”
That will be his first event since he reached the semifinals at the Australian Open in February 2020.
As of now, he also is slated to participate in the hard-court tournament at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that begins March 14.
Federer also had been on the entry list for the Masters 1000 stop in Miami, where play starts on March 24.
But his agent, Tony Godsick, wrote Monday in an email to the AP that Federer will not play there.
“After Doha and maybe Dubai, (Federer) will go back and do a training block to continue to slowly work his way back out on tour,” Godsick wrote.
Miami Open tournament director James Blake said he hopes Federer will return in 2021 to an event he has won four times, including two years ago.
“We certainly would have loved Roger to return to Miami to defend his title. However, as a former player, I understand that you need to tailor your travel and playing schedule to properly work your way back to 100 percent fitness when coming off an injury,” Blake said. “Roger is an incredible ambassador for the sport, so the longer he is able to play on tour, the better it is for all of tennis.”
Federer beat John Isner 6-1, 6-4 in the 2019 final to win the Miami Open the last time it was held. The tournament was one of dozens that were called off last year when the professional tennis tours went on hiatus for several months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Federer also won trophies at the hard-court event in 2005, 2006 and 2017.
He is currently No. 5 in the ATP rankings. He has spent 310 weeks total at No. 1, an ATP record tied by Novak Djokovic on Monday.
Federer’s 103 tour-level titles are the second-most in the professional era of men’s tennis, trailing only Jimmy Connors, who won 109.