Randy, I understand that argument but what I witnessed last year was anything but that. Even the running media was so focused on Lance that they seemed to forget the big story of a fairly major upset victory in the men's race and what many considered to be an upset victory in the women's race. Instead of stories about dos Santos beating a very accomplished men's field and Prokopcuka beating a very strong women's field flooding the running media, it was about 50/50 between those stories and Lance's apparently amazing 2:59 run.
Also, I question whether or not the mainstream media coverage of Lance's run was beneficial or even harmless to the sport as a whole. That kind of coverage just reinforces the notion that marathons aren't about competition, that they instead are about mass participation and, in this case, celebrity public appearances. I saw some mass media coverage that in fact completely neglected to mention it was a race. The only focus was on Lance. With the coverage that was offered, nobody else mattered, certainly not those guys who were finishing about 7 miles in front of him.
I remember the same thing when Diddy ran. I was watching the TV coverage and I actually stopped watching it because they were actually giving more time to Diddy than they were to the people battling it out for the victory. The coverage wasn't race coverage, it was coverage of a rapper getting in over his head and struggling to finish a tour of New York.
So much about any sport is perception. When the average person doesn't even hear anything about the winners but hears more than one cares to hear about Lance or Diddy, that affects the perception of the sport and not in a way that furthers the view of it being a challenging sport that it takes a lot of hard work, toughness, and guts to succeed in or in a way that furthers the view that the competitions can be exciting (the men's race was incredibly exciting but the coverage I was getting of that, supposedly geared toward fans of competitive running, kept getting interrupted by “Lance updates”).