Apr 15, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Runners pass under the 19 mile marker during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
EBay listings offering medals from the 2013 Boston Marathon have appalled runners who consider it insensitive to sell a memento of the tragedy.
Several ads have cropped up on the auction website listing medals from the April 15 race, many of them for hundreds of dollars and up to $1,000. None of several sellers contacted for this story responded to e-mails, but all of the ads claim either that the medal is authentic or that the seller ran the race and received his or her medal despite the explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Two medals were still for sale Tuesday evening. Several other auctions had ended without a buyer. One seller said the proceeds would go to the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts.
One listing said, "I ran the race and this was handed to me at the finish." Another said, "I trained hard, ran and received this medal. Selling to run again next year. This is for shops and collectors of memorabilia."
One eBay user issued a fake listing with nothing for sale, using it to chastise the medal sales and suggesting the medals were not earned by the sellers.
"What an utter and complete shame that people would spend HUNDREDS, and even a THOUSAND dollars to own a medal that was NOT EARNED, but was stolen," the fake listing said. "How despicable. How could any human see the carnage and choose to use that as the time to LOOT a merchandise stand? How could ANY OF YOU put the money in the pockets of those people and not send that money to the people that have lost one or both legs?"
Jon Vizena, a photographer and runner of ultra marathons (races longer than the 26.2-mile marathon distance) said anyone who would sell their Boston Marathon paraphernalia without donating the profits to charity is "a disgrace."
Added Vizena, 31, of Boston, "Monetary gain from an act of terror is disrespect at the highest level, utterly disgusting."
Some runners are skeptical that the sellers really ran the marathon.
"For me, as a marathon runner, that's kind of like your prize for all the effort and training you've done, so I can't imagine that anything sold on there would be from the actual runners that finished the race," said marathoner Aaron Tani, 50, of Bend, Ore., creator of the 2,100-member Facebook Runners group.
"To me, if I ran the Boston Marathon and got that medal, I would frame it," Tani said, "It would be that important to me."
Fort Worth running coach Curt Thomas said he heard about the medal sales a couple of days after the marathon.
"I find it disturbing that you put in all this hard work to train or raise money for charities, and then there's a tragic event and you try to make money off of it," said Thomas, 42. "Me personally, I would never purchase anything from a tragic event that led to injuries and death."
Thomas, who has run marathons in Los Angeles and New York, said he would never give up a medal from the Boston race if he were lucky enough to get there.
"I would probably wear it to work every day," he said.
Brian Kelley, 31, a runner and blogger who conceived of the Boston Strong runs for people across the country to help raise money for marathon victims, said medals are a symbol of pride and accomplishment. Kelley is widely known on social media as Pavement Runner.
"I guess there might be an interest in having an official piece for historic reasons based on the impact it has had on the nation, sport and community," said Kelley, of Concord, Calif. "I'm hoping that any money raised from the sale of official gear or merchandise is being donated to charity."
EBay issued a statement of sympathy for those affected by the Boston bombings and saying questionable listings are reviewed.
"Out of respect for victims, eBay does not allow listings that graphically portray, glorify or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering," the statement said. "Ebay's teams are monitoring related listings to ensure they comply with our policies and also taking into account reports from our community members."
Some runners said the race community was abuzz over the sales, but representatives of the big races, including those in New York and Chicago, would not comment on the eBay listings.
"What individuals choose to do with their runner medals is, and always has been, up to their discretion," said Marc Davis, communications manager for the Boston Marathon.
Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY