Part of the purity of running, and other endurance sports to an extent is that you can do them anywhere, don't need to rely on other people to do them and they require no membership fees. Except if you want to enter a race, and those benefits are all eliminated. But you need the race for motivation and to focus your training. I'm not sure I would be willing to do a 15 mile run or 60 mile bike ride unless I had the fear of being unprepared for a marathon or half Ironman.
But even as I have become motivated to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I have grown weary of the sheep like mentality of signing up for and doing races. My inherent issues:
1) Running at 5:00 a.m. makes me feel special and elite. Running a race with 8,000 people isn't special.
2) I am inherently cheap and paying someone $100 to help me feel tired seems immoral. The thrill of the free shirt has almost evaporated since I don't wear the shirts for fear of looking like a running geek (the truth hurts).
3) My satisfaction from being fit and dedicated to exercise should all come from within. I resent that I feel the need to measure myself versus other people's performance or against a specific race.
4) I feel like I focus more than enough on endurance fitness; races only make me more regimented and unbalanced.
5) I never would join a club that would have me as a member. I find runners and triathletes to be slightly sanctimonious, almost religious in their zeal. And that is a problem.
I'm sure I'll keep signing up for the races but I am not necessarily happy about this part of the fitness bit.