The buzz surrounding next year’s Boston Marathon has already led to a surge in entrants and forced race officials to modify qualifying standards. Now the scramble for bibs is carrying over into the charity realm.
As the Boston Globe reports, event organizer the Boston Athletic Association and its main sponsor, John Hancock, have seen thousands of do-gooder athletes apply for the 3,000 slots allotted to their 138 official charities.
While that’s bad news for the many runners who will invariably miss out on a chance to participate in the event—the first running since the tragic bombings at this year’s marathon—it may prove beneficial for the nonprofits.
According to the Globe, many charities are responding to increased demand by raising their minimum fundraising requirements, and that will likely mean more money for groups like Team Red Cross, which has received 190 applications for its 35 bibs, and Massachusetts General Hospital, which has a mere 100 race numbers to divvy up among 600 hopefuls.
“I’m frequently stopped by people saying ‘I’d love to run,’ or ‘A good friend of mine wants to raise money; do you have a number?” MGH team captain Howard Weinstein, chief of the hospital’s pediatric hematology/oncology unit, told the paper.
The situation is similar for Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which has upped its fundraising minimum from $5,000 to $6,500, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, which may require runners to commit to raising $7,500. Special Olympics Massachusetts is asking for $10,000 per person and holding each athlete to a $7,500 commitment.
Next year’s Boston Marathon field will include 3,000 charity runners—up from the 2,000 who competed this year and who raised a total of $20.8 million. The extra 1,000 slots include some earmarked for hospitals, first responders, and the One Fund, an agency that has raised more than $60 million for victims of the April attacks and their families.
In the mad dash for charity bibs, some folks are including personal essays and photos with their applications, hoping to influence people like Susan Hurley, founder of CharityTeams, a company that works with charities to pick runners and ready them for the race.
“I had a man write on the outside of the envelope, ‘Please pick my wife. She is a beautiful strong woman and a great mom to our five children,’” Hurley told the Globe. “Someone else took a screen shot of the scene on TV when the bombs went off and circled a picture of herself right there and wrote ‘Me.’ Someone sent in a picture of a black collie mix with a sign in its mouth: ‘Mom wants to run.’”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg