Wednesday 20 October 2010

Marathon man

This year marks the 2500th anniversary of the marathon. It was 2500 years ago, when Pheidippides ran from the battle of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated by the Greek army. The poor bugger ran 42.195km through the countryside, passed on the good news and then dropped dead – or so Herodotus tells us. It's a great tale and I loved studying the Persian Wars and Herodotus at high school

The marathon was one of the original events run at the first modern Olympics in 1896, a commemoration of Pheidippides' great effort.

I have always found the fascination that people have with the marathon quite curious. It seems that every man and his dog longs to run a marathon. It's one of those things you often see on people's Bucket List. One of those achievements that people 'want to do at least once'. Oprah's done it, so has Gordon Ramsay. Even Princess Beatrice has done it.

It's one of those things I just don't 'get'. Why would I want to run a really long way to prove something to myself or others? Remember Pheidippides carked it after doing it. Sure he didn't have energy drink stations along the way or was able to do months of training. He certainly didn't have an iPod so he could 'zone' out to his favourite tunes while running or have state-of-the-art running shoes. No, he was hardcore! But, yes, he died as a result.

In all honesty, I find the whole idea of the marathon quite odd. I find anything where people recreate a really hard or awful part of history as a way of commemoration kind of strange. I know that most people run a marathon to prove something to themselves, it's their own goal or Everest. I also understand the idea that people want to push themselves and achieve excellence. For me, doing a marathon won't be the way I push myself or  achieve excellence, but each to their own!

I'm certainly in the minority, I know. On October 31, 12,500 runners will take part in the Athens Classic Marathon which traces the original route run by Pheidippides to commemorate the anniversary. Apparently many thousands more missed the opportunity to take part.

Me? I'd like to go to Greece and see Marathon, see where Pheidippides ran. Perhaps from an air conditioned bus. I might take a little stroll.

Have you done a marathon? Would you like to? Or are you like me and think they're all a little bit mad?

Painting by Luc-Olivier Merson 


  1. I prefer to admire marathon runners from afar. Preferably, from my couch.

  2. I'm with you, I don't do unnecessary running lol. Not on MY bucket list :) I'd rather go sky diving or something.

    Then again, I'd love to walk the Great Wall. I certainly wouldn't run though lol

  3. I watch the marathons in the commonwealth and olympic games and admire the athletes. But 10km is enough for me. I love to go for a jog/run but not to be in pain. Charmaine

  4. The London marathon (and all the other numerous marathons in London) block my area off regularly, forcing me to be trapped in the house for the duration or dodge runners trying to get to the shops. There is a real fascination with running marathons amongst our friends and most Londoners - something about a rare chance to test their endurance skills (though, if you ask me you can do this negotiating the tube in rush hour).
    As Mel said, I much prefer to watch a marathon, then participate. I have never much enjoyed testing myself physically (I believe one look at me would make this very obvious!). I just don't get it, but have some admiration for people who do. I have to admit I do the same thing when I see all people running, think 'oh you're good, but I'm very glad I'm not doing it'.
    Really well written post Rin. xxx


Thank you so much for your comments! I'm always thrilled to hear from you.

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