Friday, January 11, 2008

Marathons - Why?

Since the Houston Marathon is this weekend, one nagging question keeps popping into my head: Why would anyone want to run a marathon? It's over 26 miles (26 miles 385 yards, to be exact). The distance from Ann Arbor to Detroit Metro Airport is about 25 miles. Imagine running that.

Okay, just so we all understand the origin of the marathon. According to wiki:

The name marathon comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping and burst into the senate with the words "Masters! Victory is ours!" before collapsing and dying due to exhaustion.
So, basically, the dude (Pheidippides, or Dippy for short) ran 26+ miles to inform the Greek senate that the Greeks had defeated the Persians in a battle. There were not a lot of travel options back in the first century AD, so I can understand why this guy had to run. The internal combustion engine had not been invented yet, so cars were not available. Perhaps the horses were too tired from the battle, or had been slaughtered in the battle. Fair enough, I get that. But people thinking about running in marathons need to read the last few words of this description:

"before collapsing and dying due to exhaustion."

So Dippy ran 26+ miles. Then he collapsed and died. "Okay, to honor Dippy's memory, let's have a race where you run 26+ miles, and try not to die." Woo-hoo. It's a competition where the object is to survive. Isn't it enough of a challenge not to die when you get into your car every day? Or step onto an icy sidewalk after a bad-ass mid-west winter storm?

I'll leave the back-breaking, knee-pounding, distance running to others. This is a "marathon" competition that I can support - and even win, with the correct amount of training.

Paraphrasing Jerry Seinfeld's comment about marathons: "Ah, what's to see? A woman from Norway, a guy from Kenya and 20,000 losers."

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