Completed your first marathon? Congratulations! Now what?
Running is one of the most addicting sports there is with all its benefits, relatively lower risks, and not to mention practically free, and the marathon may be the “holy grail” of long distance running. Completing a marathon is definitely a life achievement, but for many people finishing just one is simply not enough.
As of August 10, 2010 I’ve completed 10 marathon distance or longer races (3 of which were ultramarathons of at least 100 kilometers) and some more long runs. Despite having done it that many times marathons never get easier, or shorter, that’s why it’s never something to take lightly. So what keeps us going through that 42.195K over and over again?
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles and 385 yards) set by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in May 1921.
Earlier this year my knee injury forced me out of running indefinitely and effectively broke my habit. At present I could unfortunately say that running only takes second place in my priority of physical activities, yet I’m encouraging everyone to do multiple marathons! Ironic as it may seem, but I’ve never been this enthusiastic about doing another marathon—in a very long time!
My interest was stirred while doing some casual reading about marathons. If a marathon is already a life achievement, what would multi-marathons make? Here are some really awe-inspiring feats that we may not all be able to do, but it surely inspires us to dream:
- In 1980, in what was termed the Marathon of Hope, Terry Fox, who had lost a leg to cancer and so ran with one artificial leg, attained 5,373 kilometers (3,339 mi) of his proposed cross-Canada cancer fundraising run, thus maintaining an average of over 37 kilometers (23 mi), close to the planned marathon distance, for each of 143 consecutive days.
- In 2003 British adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes completed seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. He completed this feat despite suffering from a heart attack and undergoing a double heart bypass operation just four months before.
- On December 14, 2008, 64-year old Larry Macon set a record by running 105 marathons in a single calendar year.
- As of June 30, 2007, Horst Preisler of Germany had successfully completed 1,214 marathons plus 347 ultramarathons, a total of 1,561 events at marathon distance or longer. Sigrid Eichner, Christian Hottas and Hans-Joachim Meyer have also all completed over 1,000 marathons each. Norm Frank of the United States is credited with 945 marathons.
- In the United States, a popular goal is to run a marathon in each state (50 in total) plus Washington, D.C. Over 350 individuals have completed this circuit once and some have done it eight times. In 2004, Chuck Bryant of Miami, Florida, who lost his right leg below the knee, became the first amputee to finish this circuit. He has completed a total of 59 marathons on his prosthesis.
- In Europe a goal among some people is to run the greatest number of marathon races overall in one’s lifetime. There is something called the 100 Marathon Club, which, in order to qualify, one must have run 100 races.
Obviously these are only a small portion of the list of amazing feats that people did, a list that isn’t very easy to get into. We may not be able to get into this list anytime soon but now is a good time to start. Even I who currently have running “second” got motivated to revert to training. (The crazy ultra-runner within me is awake, and is concocting some outrageous ideas)
Going back to that hanging question, “what keeps us going through that 42.195K over and over again?” If you still don’t know the answer, run your next marathon—and you’ll know why. 🙂
Trivia: Did you know that the marathon’s official metric distance of 42.195 kilometers specified in Rule 240 of IAAF Competition Rules is off the statute distance by about half an inch (1.2 cm)?