Ever since 490 B.C. when a soldier named Pheidippides ran 25 miles from the battlefield to Marathon, Greece to declare victory over the Persians, runners have been fascinated to the point of replicating this obscene distance known as a marathon.
The mileage changed from 25 miles to 26.2 at the London Olympics in 1908. Queen Alexandra requested that the distance be extended to 26.2 miles so it would reach the East lawn of Windsor Castle, that way the royal children would be able to watch the race from their nursery.
Since then millions of people attempt to run marathons every year. In 2013 I joined this moronic crusade. It began on a whim in Des Moines, Iowa in 2013. My friend and I were considering running a 5k when I saw there was a marathon coming up in three months. It wasn’t something I had ever seriously considered, but I enjoy running and figured why not?
Let’s go back for a second. To be clear, the organizers of the marathon just gave up on the 25 mile tradition so the precious queen didn’t have to leave her palace? Seriously? You couldn’t just get the queen into a horse and buggy and travel to a nice building with shelter and food at the finish line? I struggle with the last 1.2 miles of the race for that? Okay, okay back to it.
Now a few years later I have attempted to run three marathons and have finished two. I can certainly make a list of all the reasons why someone shouldn’t run the race but, for me, the positives outweigh the negatives. This is why I started training again for the Missoula Marathon in July.
Each and every day I lace up my running shoes after putting on some ridiculous looking running clothes to suffer my way through the miles. No matter the weather, I trudge my way through it at a slow but deliberate pace.
Another interlude here … I have thought about this on so many runs: what possessed these people to not think of changing the route so it could be only 25 miles, yet still finish at the palace? Okay, let’s continue.
For me, training and marathons were never about being fit, but that has always been a bonus. When I got my tattoo of “26.2,” my father was quick to remind me of one of his favorite Jimmy Buffett quotes, saying the tattoo is a “permanent reminder of a temporary feeling.” I suppose this is true in many ways.
Running gives me a chance to be reminded of what I am capable of achieving. A chance to do something others cannot. Along with the reminder that, when faced with an insurmountable obstacle with the proper dedication and training, I can complete it. What matters most to me is that my tattoo is a reminder to be consistent and resilient.
So, if anything, the Jimmy Buffett quote that I feel most correlates with my 26.2 tattoo is “it’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same, with all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”
But seriously, why do I have to run an extra 1.2 miles? Can’t we all just come together and go back to the original distance?
Although I forgot to mention … when Pheidippides finished his 25 miles, he fell down and died. So maybe this whole thing is just pure insanity.