nyc marathon

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Thoughts on Marathon Fundraising and Request for Pledges

As many of you know, I'm running this year's NYC Marathon.

At first, I was thinking of running as part of the Alzheimer's Association's Team Run to Remember.

Last year, when my mom passed away, I decide that I was going to complete the marathon as a way of honoring her and her struggle.

Over the final year or two of her life, conversation became more and more difficult. Having taken up running again gave me not only a way to vent the stress of watching her whither but also gave me something to talk to her about when she was unable to really hold a conversation.

Since I ran competitively when I was young, and older memories hold on for longer, I think she was able to understand as I babbled at her about my most recent race -- and once I started running again, there were a lot of races.

My first thought when she passed was to run last year's marathon with the Alzheimer's Association, but when I discussed this with the team coordinator I began to feel uncomfortable about it.

Since I had not qualified for a spot on my own and did not get one via the lottery, I could get one of the handful of spots that they had, but to do so I'd have to make a commitment to raise over $3,000 -- and if I could not raise that much I would be personally responsible for the difference between what I raised and the minimum requirement.

It felt like I was asking friends and family to pay my way into the race and I was pretty certain that I was not up to the task of raising that amount of money, so I decided to finish qualifying for this year's race via the New York Road Runner's 9+1 program. You run 9 races and volunteer to help at 1 and you get a guaranteed spot in the next year's marathon.

Having made my way into this year on my own felt great. Again, I thought about running as part of Team Run to Remember. Having my own spot meant that I would only have to commit to raise $1,500 to participate.

As I started to learn more about how NYRR handles charity spots in the marathon, I became less and less interested in participating in that particular scam.

In 2010, NYRR claims that via the charity spots in the marathon that they helped raise over $35 million for charity. If NYRR gave those charities the spots it would be one thing, but the charities are forced to pay top dollar for those spots. NYRR's propaganda talks a big game about supporting charities, but the reality is that charity runners are a giant source of profit for them. Given the fee that the charities pay per runner, plus the fee the runner pays for entry, plus the probable kickback from crowdrise (the for-profit donation system that NYRR forces charity runners to use for fundraising), my guess is that 5-7 million of that 35 was profit for NYRR, another 5-10% was profit for crowdrise. Hardly an act of charity in my opinion.

I decided to train on my own. However, I still want to make this partly about Pearl and raising some money for Alzheimer's research. I think about her often when I run; sometimes those thoughts are the only thing that gets me across the finish line.

I have also been thinking about the difference between how we used to do events like walkathons when I was young and how they are done now. We used to get pledges -- people would commit to pay a certain amount per mile and you'd collect the funds after the event and their donation was tied to how far you actually went. Now, people pay a set fee and give that, in full, before you even start. They donate no matter what amount of effort or dedication you put in. That model really bothers me.

So, this brings me to what I'm writing this to ask. I would like you to pledge any amount by filling out this form. Tell me how much you are willing to donate to the Alzheimer's Association if, and only if, I finish the marathon.

I'll keep a running tally on my blog, and will be starting to post weekly updates about my training progress and what the Alzheimer's Association is doing to try to end this terrible disease.

After the marathon, I'll send you a reminder and ask you to send your payment directly to the Alzheimer's Association. Please send them a check, do not donate online. I want every penny of your donation to go towards their work and not into the pocket of paypal, Visa or any other intermediary.

Thanks in advance for your support. It means more to me than I can possibly tell you.