I wanted to re-write this to make it more in my own voice and ass-kicking rather than what I tailored so that this columnist might be able to hear me and I might have a chance of getting printed. But I really need to get to studying or sleeping, and I think that kind of perfectionism prevents me from posting as much as I'd like to (ahem, see the last 2 months), especially when I'm busy. So here goes:
Regarding Phillip Hersh's comments (October 9, "A Saner, Safer Race) I agree with your point that a marathon is strenuous and runners should be well-prepared (although this does not absolve race organizers of the mismanagement that resulted in stations running out of water and Gatorade on a dangerously hot day). However, your comments about who "looks" like they can run a marathon were inaccurate and disrespectful. You cannot see by looking at someone how many training runs they have done.
I have never done a marathon, but I have done many shorter races, and despite training adequately and eating healthy food, I was still fat. I'm only running a few miles a week now, but I bike 50-60 miles a week, and yep, I'm still weighing in with a fat BMI of 29. The only way for me to become a skinny person that "looks" like a runner would be to go on a strict diet for years, and I actually enjoy my body and don't have enough self-loathing to want to do that. I'd rather put my energy into exercising, enjoying my life and taking care of my health.
EDIT FOR BLOG ENTRY: Screw that, I'd literally have to get myself a full-fledged eating disorder (for both physical ability for that to be possible and the attitude I'd have to have to dislike my body enough/be driven enough to have that kind of discipline) to be able to do that! I'm never going to "look" like a runner with that definition. Nor do I want to.
There are lots of us fat runners out there that "deserve" to be racing. I'm sure some of the fat runners trained adequately and were well-prepared at the starting line last Sunday, and some weren't. Just like the skinny people - some were prepared, and some of them weren't. Being skinny does not mean you are in shape to run a marathon. Being bigger does mean that you probably won't be able to run as fast as skinny people, but it absolutely does not automatically mean you are unprepared and should not be running. The Clydesdale circuits (the Chicago Area Runners' Association includes the Chicago Marathon) for bigger runners recognize this, and provide a forum for bigger runners to compete. See http://cararuns.org/cara_info
Additionally, if being heavier puts a runner at risk for anything, it is joint problems, not dehydration. Anyone who pushes their body too hard on an 88-degree day puts their health at risk.