I think there's room in today's events for all abilities.
Certainly, so long as RD's kowtow to the uncompetitive entrants and the racers prove willing to subsidize a closed course for them to slog around on. In marathons, the cost of keeping a course open for 6-10 hours will simply continue to rise, not only through permit fees and EMT/police overtime pay but also through the insurance policy required by so many municipalities. Entry fees for so many marathons are well above the $75 mark (and rapidly approaching the $100 point) and if the trend continues marathons will before long become primarily the playground of the affluent, pricing many lower- and middle-class recreational competitors out of the picture. This will also serve to only further thin the field that finishes between the elites and the midpack. This could very well have impacts in other areas, too. I know that I was soured on volunteering (at least for races that do not discourage the uncompetitive set from entering and when really cold weather is possible — I do not mind running in that kind of cold, but standing around in it for more than a few minutes is misery) when I stood around for well over an hour on a really cold Thanksgiving morning while people took their time in moseying around a 5K course in down parkas – I wish that I could have anticipated this and dressed more warmly, like with a sleeping bag – people taking well over 45 minutes to complete a 5K. What they really contributed to or took away from the race (i.e. competition) is entirely unclear; a closed course is not that beneficial to their activity, they could just as easily have sauntered around their neighborhood and simply donated the entire entry fee to the local food shelter.
I figure it must be a radical view considering the typical “we back-of-the-packers keep this sport alive!” tripe that I have seen posted by the unfortunately typical netizens proud of their senses of entitlement.
11:27/mile pace (5-hour marathon) is also about a 2:50 400m, either of which would be a powerwalk for me, at the very hardest.
A couple years ago a marathon in a city not far from where I live had to cancel the event on the week prior because the RD did not have enough of the entry fees before a deadline to cover just the deposit needed to get the city/police to close the streets — the RD was quoted as stating that the entry fees were the source for the financing of the street closures. While it was not a mega-event like Chicago or Boston or NYC, it did have a big name sponsor (VW) and I am not sure that this race operated much different from a financial standpoint than most of the marathons in the USA do.