One of the appeals of running is that anybody who wants to do it can. Want to start running? Buy a pair of running shoes and hit the roads (or get on a treadmill if you prefer). Want to run a marathon? Simply sign up for one. While one runner may be faster than another, they’re both treated equally with no questions asked. Nobody is treated differently, and each runner has full access to all race accouterments (water at water stations, medal given upon completion of certain races, etc..) with preference given to nobody. That may be why running is so popular among the masses. Why people come running to running itself.
At least that was the case before Brooks, manufacturer of running shoes and apparel as well as one of the sponsors of the Marine Corps Marathon, changed that which needed no changing. But now, in a nod to capitalism gone awry, Brooks has clearly elevated certain runners at the expense of others.
For those of you who, like myself, have run in countless races both long and short, you have no doubt gotten used to the portable restroom lines that, at their peak, are longer than the list of people who finished before Mario Lopez in the 2002 Boston Marathon. While at first I was easily irritated at having to weight in line for a longer duration of time than the actual race would probably take, I gradually got used to it and even began enjoying being so heavily immersed in the excitement that precedes any race. For those longer races (marathons and half-marathons generally), I even got used to the shorter though still five-deep lines that were found at the on-course portable rest stops. Given that one or two minutes generally does not negatively affect my finishing time, I never really complained about the lines and would take advantage of the brief hiatus from the pain that was taking over my entire body.
But, on October 25th, if you decide to wear Brooks running shoes or any article of Brooks' race apparel, you will be privy to certain luxuries befitting a king. Located right next to the 'common-man' porta potties, will lay the Brooks VIP Porta Potty, which was designed with some riveting cutting-edge technology...at least with respect to the porta potty industry. According to the Brooks Blog, "Perks of the potty include flushing toilets, partitioned stalls, climate control, a fragrance dispenser, hot and cold water, auto shut-off faucets, an oak vanity and mirror, along with a team of Brooks bathroom attendants".
Not only would one think that, in these times of economic woes, the manufacturing of a VIP Porta Potty seems a tad unnecessary but also, when it comes down to it, many of these so-called 'perks' are really no perks at all. With temperatures still hovering in the mid-70s in October, I'm not too sure why climate control and hot water are particularly necessary. Unless you're planning to walk much of the Marine Corps Marathon, I doubt many runners would find any use for the fragrance dispenser unless the fragrance is more powerful than sweat (the same rationale applies for the oak vanity and mirror as well). And, being the paranoid person I am, I feel as though this 'team' of bathroom attendants won't be able to stifle the laughter at the absurdity of any runner who takes advantage of any perks their 'office' has to offer.
I used to run in Brooks running shoes and, for the most part, thought they made a very quality product. I found myself wondering why I had never heard much about Brooks and thought that their marketing and advertisement departments should have been doing better job. Someone probably figured that setting up a VIP Porta Potty would increase the company's visibility and would endear it to runners. Well, Brooks, think again! All you've done is send the message that all runners are not treated equally. You've struck a blow to the equality of running and, in so doing, have flushed any goodwill down the toilet (pun intended).