From a Press Release: On October 9, Chicago-area residents Danielle Maglinte, Hailey Danisewicz, Susan Taylor, Scott Herrick, Chad Doellinger, Pat Arbor and Joe Jasnosz, along with six other runners from across the country, will participate in a unique charity relay during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running alongside relay team captains U.S. soccer stars Hope Solo, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. These participants were chosen from hundreds of runner applications for Bank of America’s new “Let’s Run Together Charity Relay” program detailing how their participation would help to make opportunity possible in their local community with a $5,000 charitable contribution to the following charities from Bank of America: American Heart Association, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, Ups For Downs, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Susan B. Komen For The Cure, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, and Kendall County Triad.
I wrote about this event when the initial press release went out, and praised it. When a former neighbor of mine Scott Herrick, was picked to take part, it sealed the deal that this was something I wanted to put all of my blogging energy behind. It's a great story, these American athletes putting their efforts towards helping charity and the people who support those charities, slam dunk.
Then I reached out to Ashley Rittenhouse from Weber Shandwick, the company running the PR for this event and things started to take an ugly turn. My idea was simple, interview Scott and one of the members of the U.S Team about the event, the charity element, running in the Chicago Marathon. This is part of the e-mail, I got back from Ashley Rittenhouse at Weber Shandwick,"Unfortunately at this time the soccer captain’s time is extremely limited and there isn’t any time that they are available for an interview."
I completely understand how things get when you are being stretched one way and the other, and thought maybe they are so busy training for the marathon that there isn't enough time? Hopefully there will be time for a phone interview or some kind of press group interview, very much like what Olympic champion Apolo Ohno did when he was in town to run the 1/2 Marathon last month. He did interviews with me, all the TV stations, the papers and had a group lunch for everyone else. They the next day he ran 13.1 miles. The man was stretched, but truly made an effort.
After talking more to the folks from Weber Shandwick, that's not the case at all. What I was told that at least one of them, most likely Abby Wambach will be at the Mayor's press conference today and then at the expo. Saturday two of them will be available for an hour long Q&A with the people at the expo. Alex Morgan is flying in Friday night and Hope Solo is flying in Saturday afternoon, running her part of the relay and then back out of town.
I can't wait to see the package on Dancing With The Stars about how busy she has been all week and how it may hurt her Quick Step.
What they are doing for charity is great, and the effort to get here is appreciated, to say the least. But as I have been talking to other marathon runners, it has come up more than once that this is a bit of a smack in the mouth to what the Chicago Marathon is, a marathon, not a relay or a photo opportunity. Yes, we are aware that this is big business and deals have to be made to make sure that this event can happen. However, does this smack as another PR stunt that is more about getting these ladies more time in the spot light and less about running.
There are plenty of people that have trained for years to make it to the starting line in Grant Park and see if they can reach their goal of "finishing" a marathon, not just zipping in from the Dancing With The Stars set, trotting along through Boys Town, then taking off to LA. The last two Facebook posts on Hope Solo's Facebook page were about her Access Hollywood interview and being on the cover of ESPN's Body issue, nothing about the marathon.
It reminds me of the old story about the singer that has to write the name of the city he is singing in on his hand, so he doesn't make a mistake on stage, " Hello Chicago, we love you, great to be here!" "What were in Milwaukee???"
At the end of the day, they are not running the marathon, they are running in a relay event, which as far as I can tell relays aren't allowed in the marathon. Ohno came to hype Subway, but also run. Every year Al Roker comes to town, does media and then runs as well, both of these guys are equally if not more busy than the lead footed "dancer" Solo.
Solo puts more efforts into her Salsa and spray tan than she has for the marathon. Is that minimal effort an insult to the working mom of two boys who has pulled herself out of bed every morning at 5:00AM to get in her runs? Is it an insult to you?
Are these world class athletes making light of a world class event, by only "kind of participating?" How would Hope Solo feel if NBC decided to do a reality show that put Johnny Knoxville on the U.S Woman's Soccer Team to see how he competed and also raise money for charity? I wonder what her Facebook posts would be about then?
Charity is great and if you read The Pace, then you know we do everything we can to support the efforts of plenty of charitable organizations. Is this a PR stunt wrapped in the face of charity? Does this make light of what the marathon is all about? If you are going to come to run in the Chicago Marathon, then run the Chicago Marathon, or at least put fourth a little effort to act that this is something that matters.
I am honestly interested in your opinion about this one. As a runner in the marathon, does this bother you, should the marathon be for marathon running and not PR stunting? Or am I off base, is the fact that they have tried to get here and do what they can enough to count.
Either way, as you are running, make sure to run up to Hope or her teammates and smile, chances are there will be a camera nearby.