As legend goes, the word ‘marathon’ comes from ancient Greece, where Phedippides is said to have run from the battlefield in Marathon to announce that the Persians had been defeated. After running the entire distance and proclaiming the news, Phedippides is said to have collapsed and died. Although his exact route is not known, the road from Marathon to Athens, around Mount Penteli, was roughly 40km or 25m long; it has since been expanded to measure the famous 26.2 miles we know and love. The myth may be unconfirmed but the story is certainly a warning to all who try to conquer it; marathon running is no mean feat. Despite this challenge, people have been running the distance and competing since 1896 when the marathon was introduced at the first Olympic games. The winner ran the course in 2 hours 58 minutes. It has taken a lot longer for women to be recognized in the sport and the women’s marathon was only introduced to the Olympics in 1984.
Today, 6th November 2011, was the 42nd New York City Marathon, one of the biggest and most famous marathons in the world. The race has grown from 127 runners in 1970 to 47,000 in 2011. I was really happy that I was able to participate today, not as a runner but a volunteer. I helped out at the pre-marathon dinner in Central Park yesterday and today at mile 12, screaming encouragement and handing out Gatorade to runners. Apparently 4,500 pounds of pasta was served at the dinner and 32,040 gallons of Gatorade handed out along the course. If you’re a statistic fan like me check out New York City Marathon by the numbers. Being part of today’s event and being able to make some of the runners smile definitely inspired me and I plan to run it myself next year, even if I do run at half the speed of the pros.
Here come the boys.
They were so fast that you can’t even see their faces clearly in my video. Today Geoffrey Mutai won the race in just 2 hours 5 minutes; a new course record and just 2 minutes away from the world marathon record, currently held by Patrick Makau of Kenya with a time of 2 hours 3 minutes. The women looked fantastic too, with Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia winning in 2 hours 23 minutes.
Whatever the finishing time, all the runners today are my heroes. Being able to run 26 miles is a great achievement as well as a mental and physical challenge, not forgetting the $30+ million that was raised for charity. I look forward to next year when hopefully it’ll be me pounding the streets, grabbing the Gatorade and refusing to give in until I cross the finish line.