Monday, October 17, 2016

TSFB Origins and Philosophy

B. Marathon Series Origin, Philosophy, and Brief History
B. Marathon Series was established in Boone, NC in 2009 as a way to create econo-friendly marathons. Originally named the "Boone Marathon Series," we changed the name to "B. Marathon Series" when the organizer moved away from Boone. So the "B." used to stand from "Boone," but it doesn't stand for anything now. If you ask me what the "B" stands for three times, I'll give you three different answers.

For many runners, the marathon experience is a once-in-a-lifetime event that is worthy of the $100+ entry fee, travel costs, and hotel costs. But for those who binge-marathon (i.e. running a marathon every week), the costs add up. Groups like Marathon Maniacs do various things to incentivize binge-marathoning, and we respect and admire that. But when the culture of "once-in-a-lifetime marathoning" and "binge marathoning" converge, binge-marathoning can quickly become a contest to determine who has the most disposable income rather than simply who can run the most marathons. We hate that this drama even exists in this sport because we just love to run.

As veteran marathoners, we also don't like how runners are often treated at some of the larger races. Some of the horror stories we've heard and experienced are part of what motivated us to put together our own events. It's hard to recreate the feeling of running a marathon through Chicago, down the middle of the street, and with thousands of people around you. It's amazing, and we aren't trying to take away from that. But we've also noticed that it's difficult to provide a certain level of attention to each runner when there are so many of them. That's why our races are small. We want to create a feeling of community on race day, and we don't want anyone to feel like they're just a name and a finish time. And we also want to hear your special requests. We may not always be able to accommodate you, but we'd love to give it a shot.

Our races used to be guerrilla-style events, meaning that we used the public park and didn't tell anybody. We still had a website where we advertised and posted results, but we generally didn't put up signs or permanently mark the course. Runners brought their own aid, and they refueled at the end of one of the seven 3.75-mile out-and-backs they ran. We didn't have a big clock on display; I just set my watch and we used that as gun time and runners with GPS devices had the option of submitting a chip time.

When the organizer lived in Boone, it made sense to host events because there aren't any well-organized marathons that start in the town of Boone. Todd and Valle Crucis were towns in the area with well-organized races, but Boone needed more marathon opportunities. When the organizer moved to the Raleigh area, it really didn't make any sense to host events. Raleigh already has the opportunities we were trying to create in Boone, so there really wasn't a point. We hosted a 12-12-12 marathon, and then sort of closed out the BMS with Too Slow for Boston in 2013. But we've realized that Too Slow for Boston is unique, and we think it's worth bringing back.

Too Slow for Boston Marathon Origin and Philosophy
I honestly don't remember exactly how we came up with the idea for TSFB, but I'm pretty sure it was toward the end of a BMS marathon, and I'm pretty sure Daniel Lieb and/or Joe Sinclair were there with me. A common topic of discussion among slower marathon runners, like us, is how we'll never qualify for Boston. And we're ok with that. But as we got more and more people running BMS marathons, we noticed that most of them wouldn't ever qualify for Boston either. And we thought it might be fun to host an event that would be exclusive to those runners.

So most people think it's a joke, and some might even think we're subtly making fun of the slower runners, but that's not the case at all. We sincerely believe that running a marathon requires a dual skillset; physical and mental toughness. It certainly takes physical and mental toughness to achieve a BQ time, and we respect and admire those who earn that achievement. But, similarly, for those who grind it out for 6, 7, 8 hours, and even longer, isn't that worthy of some recognition too? Imagine spending that much time on the course. Imagine the physical, mental, and emotional toughness it requires, especially knowing that by the time you get to the finish line, most of the fanfare will have died out, and you might just be seen as an indicator that it's time to clean up and go home. This is what TSFB is all about. It's about rewarding the people who run these types of marathons by creating a race that they need to be slow enough to qualify for. It's about promoting the aspect of mental toughness that exists in our sport, and it's about celebrating the people who can persevere.


  1. Any chance the legendary Tim Albertson , 2ND year andTSFB record holder, is strongly considering coming out of retirement ....if he would be able to register...this was the highlight of his running career.

  2. I really wish I could; it would be awesome to have you back, especially as one of the previous champions. If anyone opts out, I'll let you know and we'll see if we can work something out. I don't know how likely that is though. Really would have been great to have you return this year. If not this year, maybe next year?