I had the opportunity to watch my sister participate in the Dick Beardsley half marathon last weekend in Detroit Lakes. In line to register, hundreds of other runners swarmed around us, which got me to thinking of what a crazy notion the entire marathon “thing” really is.
People train for months to run these races. They spend hours at the gym, running on treadmills, and jogging through their neighborhood streets. Finally, their bodies are as prepared as they’re going to get for taking on the challenge. They gather together with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other enthusiasts - all who pay a fee to run numerous miles on a street together.
Running just over 26 miles at one time is obviously an amazing accomplishment - a result of sheer dedication. However, no matter how you look at it, you must admit the entire concept is outrageous.
Maybe I’m not quite “up to speed” on the issue, but to me, a marathon is something that should be done once, maybe twice, in a person’s life. However, there are people that run several per year! For example, a man by the name of Chuck Engle, also known as “the Marathon Junkie,” once set a goal to run 50 marathons in a year - all in under three hours. He accomplished his goal in 2006, running just short of one marathon per week! And here I was thinking running the equivalent of a marathon in the span of a week was impressive… not so much!
Engle isn’t the only running addict – does the name Rick Wagar ring a bell? This man literally ran 74 miles from Grand Forks to the Fargodome the morning of the Fargo Marathon, and continued to run the route, completing the marathon in just under six hours. Running for 25 hours straight, Wagar ran a total of 100 miles that day. As bizarre as this sounds, there was reason behind his madness. He wanted to gain the attention of at least one person who, upon seeing what he accomplished, would pick up running for themselves. Whatta guy!
Recently reading an article about a woman who ran wherever she went, I couldn’t help but think of this lady’s poor friends! I know if I ran wherever I went, I’d probably get less invites to do& anything! Nobody wants to hang out with Sweaty Betty, do they? But this woman plans her life around running wherever she goes.
Another runner, Dean Karnazes, also known as “Ultramarathon man,” ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days. After he finished his 50th, he decided to run home to San Francisco from his last marathon in New York. Instead, he chose to end his trek in Missouri to spend time with his family. Sounds like a road trip to me - not a running course!
Some of us always have and always will see it as crazy, but these races give runners a goal to work towards. Even if it is paying just to run on a road, there is a sense of accomplishment. Even though runners are given a cool shirt and a gigantic medal to gaze at for years to come, those items don’t mean as much as running the race - crazy or not.
Shootin’ the Wit is a weekly column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.