I realize you wrote this article some time ago, but it wasn't until this morning that I stumbled upon it on my Facebook newsfeed. Brian, you really missed the mark on this one. "It’s amazing how three numbers and a decimal point can single-handedly turn someone into a big, arrogant butthole."
I got news for ya... there are "big, arrogant buttholes" in every sport. But the sport of running very simply put is putting one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible. That's it. It's one of the least popular, least glorified, and least exciting to watch sports out there. There's no World Series of Running, or a Running Cup, or even a Running Bowl. Those three numbers and a decimal point are all we have.
People run for a huge variety of reasons. To lose weight, because they see a fun looking race and it motivates them to try, because they just like to run, for a new challenge, for the endorphins, etc. In all honesty I have a hard time calling myself a runner because I've only done the total of two races, a full marathon being my first, and a 5k being my second. I signed up for a full marathon to use my adversity as a reason to do something rather than permitting it to stop me, for details on that read here. But I can honestly say I've never heard a runner say that they choose to run to prove they are better than other people, or anything remotely close to that sentiment.
"You're only impressing yourself"
And your point is what exactly? Are we supposed to do these races, wear the tee shirts, and buy the stickers for others? You're kidding me, right? Furthermore, HELL YEA I IMPRESSED THE SHIT OUT OF MYSELF WHEN I RAN 26.2 MILES!
You seem to be primarily calling out the long distance bumper stickers (13.1+ races). Long distance running is an animal. The amount of time you sacrifice to train, the kind of physical pain you feel after you start running 15+ miles, and the mental battle of putting one foot in front of another when you want nothing more than to stop is what makes long distance running special. And, well, completely crazy. But this is what unites everyone that has ever done a long distance race. Those bumper stickers are more than a tiny tangible piece of accomplishment - it's a way for other runners to identify each other, and to say they understand the glory of crossing the finish line, as they know what it took to get there.
The fact that you think those with those bumpers stickers make themselves "look like an ass," tells me just how unexposed and ignorant you are to this sport.
But you know what, let me offer this to you: Let me show you just how awesome the running community is, and how phenomenal long distance running is. Brian, I'm challenging you to choose a long distance race, whatever distance you want, whatever race you want. In turn, I will sign up and virtually train with you. My marathon was back in 2012, and I haven't regularly run since, so we are likely to be starting a similar point. I want to introduce you to a world that you know nothing about. If you stick with it, I can guarantee you won't regret it. I'll even pay for your registration.
While I wait for your answer, I'm going to buy a sticker that says 26.2 because you just reminded me how proud I am of that feat, and even more proud that I can call myself a runner.