Baltimore Marathon a big flop!
That’s exactly what Keith Levasseur did when he ran the Baltimore Marathon in a spectacular time of 2:46:58 while wearing flip-flops. While his feat left his feet sore and raw from the rubbing of the flip-flop strap, I was actually rubbed the wrong way in reading about this story.
As someone who is preparing to run a marathon with my wife in a couple of weeks, and someone who gets blisters on my feet if I walk more than a few feet in a pair of flip-flops, I was captivated by the headline of this story. But from the first sentence, I was anticipating reading about a charity Levasseur was attempting to raise funds for. Or perhaps he was trying to raise awareness of those who aren’t fortunate enough to own a pair of shoes. There are many organizations that collect new and gently used running shoes to be dispersed to the needy throughout the world, the most prominent of which is Soles4Souls. The link between Levasseur’s run and the organizations’ missions seemed like a natural connection.
Yet when I came to the end of the story, there was no mention of Levasseur raising money or collecting used shoes. It appears as though his motivation was purely for personal glory in an attempt to be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having run the fastest marathon in flip-flops.
I’m not attempting to take away from the amazing accomplishment by Levasseur. Yet it strikes me as odd that I stumbled across this story from an email newsletter from http://SportsDoingGood.com. The stories featured on that website are typically about people raising funds or awareness for a charitable cause, or about one competitor casting winning aside in order to assist a fellow athlete.
There’s actually a growing field of sport development that highlights the potential individual and community benefits through sport. Fitness Information Technology’s new title Sport for Development, Peace, and Social Justice highlights much of that current research.
FiT is also publishing Freedom Run, a book about an ultra-distance runner who has parlayed his running into something greater than personal glory. Jamie Summerlin completed a 100-day, 3,452-mile run across America on July 4 in an attempt to raise money and awareness for military veterans. He ran approximately 35 miles every day for 100 consecutive days, enduring all sorts of weather and terrain while pushing himself mentally and physically.
Incidentally, I read a new story on Summerlin’s journey just hours after I read the story on Levasseur’s marathon oddity. That’s when it hit me that there was a drastic difference between these two amazing running accomplishments.
Summerlin’s mission wasn’t to earn an individual goal or record—it was to achieve something greater than personal glory. And as a result, tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to organizations focused on assisting veterans.
That is the definition of “sports doing good.”