Marathons are stupid. I have no issue with the race itself, just the routes they choose. Why should one small portion of the population greatly inconvenience the rest because of their hobby? If I wanted to put up an exhibit for my stamp collecting (I don’t collect stamps by the way. I don’t need to add another aspect to my nerdery) that would be fine. But if I wanted to place that exhibit in the middle of 26 miles of public roads for 8 hours, I highly doubt my petition would go through. There was marathon encircling my house yesterday. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go to work, or go shopping, or do most anything. Someone’s hobby shouldn’t put me on house arrest. But, you say, marathons help promote health. Well, possibly. Running is good for you, but running a marathon isn’t necessarily. There are certainly cardiac and musculoskeletal consequences to pushing your body to that extent that make the overall health benefit questionable. But, you say, it makes the city money. Maybe it does, but the city isn’t me. Boston, Chicago etc make money on their marathons. Phoenix? I don’t know and I’m not going to look it up. But regardless, run the stupid thing NIMBY. If you’re traveling to Phoenix to run a marathon it makes perfect sense to me to run it outside of town in the desert. That’s what Phoenix is known for.
Race for the Cure/AIDS Run/Memory Walk are stupid. By all means, let’s solicit public donations to medical research. But this charity running thing makes no sense at all. If you enjoy running, why in the world should I pay you to run? Do you pay me to write or watch movies or go people-watching at the rodeo? If you don’t enjoy running, how is doing something you don’t enjoy helpful to anybody? If I were to run the 10 K, I guarantee you that by the end of it I’d hate the people I was raising money for. Yes, give money for medical research. In fact, take all the money it takes to throw the event, and put all that money into medical research as well. And, whereas marathons may not be the best thing for you, running 5 k or 10 k is a more reasonable exercise routine but don’t just do it once a year. If you need people to SEE you giving money to charity, you suck. Give the money on your own. Go exercise on your own. Be a good person on your own.
What isn’t stupid is private advocacy for medical research. Now, I’ve changed my position on this point somewhat, so maybe in the future I’ll think marathons are wonderful, but I doubt it. I’ve long had a beef with breast cancer. Breast cancer gets a lot of press. (If you’re looking for some levity, you can take that as a mammography joke.) You’d think it’s the worst thing out there, but it’s not. It’s not the most common or deadly cancer. For instance lung and colon are deadlier and lung, skin and prostate are more common. It’s not the hardest to treat, we have a variety of treatment methods, whereas some cancers we have practically nothing. It’s not the most painful, this is usually attributed to pancreatic, stomach or bone. In short, by no measurable means is it the worst cancer. But everyone loves breasts, and very few love colons, prostates and pancreases. Previously, I would have argued that breast cancer advocates need to stop making such a hullabaloo and help out some of these other camps. But, I’ve changed my mind. If you, or your wife or mother or doubly unlucky husband has breast cancer, by all means make a hullabaloo. It shouldn’t matter to you which cancer is the most common. If you want to raise money for your cause, raise money. Advocate, fundraise, awareness-raise, do whatever it is that you want. It’s your time and money; it’s your life.
But, I’m not so sure about the government. I read an article this week where the author proposed the government isn’t spending enough on AIDS research because they want homosexuals and minorities to die. Yes, I read it on that home of whackos and conspiracy theorists, CNN. The government spends huge amounts on AIDS research, more than on cardiovascular health (more deadly) or neurological disease (crippling and arbitrary) or most anything other than cancer as a whole. And while I couldn’t say they’re spending too much on AIDS research, I can and will say they should be spending more on other diseases. AIDS gets 15,000 times the budget of Picks disease. Pick’s disease is rare, but trust me, you don’t want to get it. Breast cancer gets 3 times the funding of leukemia. Helping women is great, but shouldn’t we be even more sympathetic to children? On the one hand, I am saying that if you want more research for Huntington’s or diabetes or kidney failure, you should advocate your cause. On the other, should the government really bow to uneducated public opinion and fund the disease de jure and not the deadliest ones? I’m not sure.
So in summary, marathons are stupid. Running to cure a disease is stupid. Raising money to cure a disease is good. Telling the government to spend more money on your cure is still under debate.