I've had this thread saved for a while now, not knowing whether or not to post it, but I've decided to throw it out there to see where I stand.
I imagine that young Shliach (at Brandeis University) Peretz Chein means well, and there's nothing per se' that's really so terrible, but can you imagine Reb Moshe Feller of Minnesota, a Shliach for well over 45 years, running the marathon 40 years ago looking like a spaceman? I understand that Peretz Chein works with lots of young people, and that he feels the need to connect to them so as to bring them closer to Yiddishkeit, but is this going too far? I also know that I've never done anything in my life to be MeKarev Yidden, so I shouldn't be criticizing others.
(what was he thinking?)
Here's how it came about: (From Crownheights.info)
"At Chabad's Shabbat dinner one week after his trip to New York in 2005, Chein spoke to Brandeis students about the importance of doing things in life that are so beyond them that they never even considered trying, with the goal of inspiring students to do good deeds in Judaism they never thought were possible. Teaching by example, Chein promised the crowd that he would run the full 26.2 miles of a marathon within the next year." He also called the idea of running the marathon a "moment of inspiration", he was inspired while seeing the runners of the NYC Marathon run in NY last year. Why that would inspire a skinny young guy like himself is beyond me.
If Chabad was really run like it should this young man would get a telephone call from New York that day and would be admonished for his silliness. If the main office won't do it then at least his superior in Massachussets should. As would every other Shliach who oversteps his boundaries. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet, and probably never will. What's more disheartening is the comments in places like CrownHeights.info where people have totally lost it. They think this is a good thing, like you and me going to the gym to ride the stationary bike.
Photos courtesy of COL, Shturem and Crownheights.info.