How I Lost My Amateur Status
by Mike Lesshafft
October 9, 2010
I am training for the Bourbon Chase Relay October 22 & 23 followed by the Philadelphia Marathon November 21. My training scheduled called for a 20 mile run on Saturday October 9. I was on vacation in southern Alabama the week before and could not get back to Lexington to run with my normal (I use that term loosely) long run group. So I decided to follow the teachings of the great long distance runner and 50 state marathoner Dan “The Man” Wells. Dan always taught “if you have to run 20 miles, why not go 6.2 more and get a medal for it”. So that is what I did. I found the Run for Life Marathon in Madison, MS which was about 4 hours from my vacation home and not exactly but sort of on the way home. It was Northwest and home was Northeast, but it was close enough for me.
This turned out to be a very nice marathon. There were about 700 total participants in the Half Marathon and Full Marathon. Only about 185 in the full. But for that small of an event they gave away a new Honda Fit car. No I did not win the car. Read on to find out how I lost my amateur status. The course was a two loop course, which I said I would never run again, however, this one did not include running you through the finish shoot as the last two loop marathon I ran in Missouri. The course was fairly flat by Kentucky standards. The locals cautioned me of a couple of hills to be weary of. However, I missed the first hill entirely and had to be reminded of the second. So it was mostly flat. The only drawback was the lack of shade. I would guess that 90% of the course was in the sun and it was getting hot for a fall morning. But I survived and was able to finish in my fastest marathon time this year.
The finish was very nice. First there was shade. Second there was someone to walk with you to make sure you were okay. Then they had plenty of good food and drinks. A free 10 minute massage made the 9 hour drive home more bearable. So what about my amateur status? The initial results were posted before we left and I had finished second in my age group (29 and over). That was the first marathon that I was in the top three in my age group and I wanted a trophy. I enquired about the trophy and was told they did not give them for age group categories. I was told I could down load the results from the web site on Sunday and put that in my scrap book. Well I was about ready to tell them where they could put their web site, but I was just ready to go home. I still felt good since it was my best time this year and I knew I had come in second in my age group.
The next morning I decided to printout my second place finish and save it since I did not get a trophy. However, I was not listed as second place in my age group. Now what was wrong? I looked at the data further to find out that I had placed third in the Grand Masters Division. I know what you are thinking, there were only 3 people in that division. Wrong!! There were 15 men in the Grand Masters Division. I beat 12 of them. For that I would get a check for $100. WooHoo!!! I won money!!! I was thrilled. I had never won any money in any sport before (unless you count horse racing). Now my dilemma. Do I accept the money and lose the remaining 4 years of college eligibility. There goes my retirement plan of going back to college on a cross country scholarship. But my wife pointed out that by the time I can retire I will be old enough to go back to school for free anyway. She is so thoughtful. So I plan to cash the check when it arrives.
One final comment from my best cheerleader and coach, my wife. She said maybe next time I could find an even more obscure marathon and win my division. Isn’t she sweet.
By the way, I entered late and the entry fee was $110. So I guess I will not be able to make a living as a professional runner. I am going to keep my day job.
I like to look at the experience this way: $110 entry fee, hotel $104, pasta dinner at nice restaurant $42, Mary shopping while I run the marathon $68, gas for the car ridiculous, coming in third in the Grand Masters Division of a Marathon, PRICELESS.
Here are the official results:
MALE GRANDMASTERS 1st -$250, 2nd -$150, 3rd – $100 : 50 – 98
Place O/plc S/plc Name Age City St Time Pace
===== ===== ===== ===================
1 16 13 Gary Thornton 52 Laurel MS 3:56:43 9:03
2 32 26 James Norris 61 Maumelle AR 4:28:08 10:15
3 34 27 Michael Lesshafft 60 Lexington KY 4:31:51 10:23