I've long been a critic of the Marathon, stating that its fine if running is your sport and you truly enjoy it, but its a quick way to deteriorate your health otherwise. The majority of runners that I've seen skating on thin ice in the recent treacherous weather have most certainly been indulging in act of running for weight-loss or fitness.
The modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896, over 24.85 miles to commemorate the legend of Pheidippides, the messenger who is said to have run from Marathon to Athens to announce a Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. He is then said to have promptly died...perfect foundations for a future health craze.
The 1900 Olympic marathon in Paris covered just over 25 miles and one of the favorites saw sense and stopped for a beer early in the race before dropping out.
The 1908 London Games established what is now the customary distance of the marathon and provided the spectators with an interesting result. First to enter the stadium was Dorando Pietri an Italian pastry chef. The legend of Pietri lives on to this day as many runners today become obsessed with baking and producing cakes and pastries. Sadly Pietri was exhausted, delirious, he turned the wrong way on the track, reversed course and began stumbling. Allegedly Pietri fell five times in the final quarter-mile. Yet another reason to dig out those running shoes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, covered the race for The Daily Mail of London and wrote, “I caught a glimpse of the haggard, yellow face, the glazed, expressionless eyes, the long, black hair streaked across the brow.”
Race officials knew they were jeopardizing his gold medal but felt that, “It was impossible to leave him there, for it looked as if he might die in the very presence of the Queen.”
Pietri was first across the line then collapsed and was placed on a stretcher. John Hayes of the United States crossed the line second and after an American protest was declared the winner. Pietri became a hero, was presented with a gold cup, and started the international marathon 'craze'. The 26 miles 385 yards lives on to this day but the history of it is mostly unknown by today’s runners.
Abel Kirui of Kenya, the two-time world champion was quoted as saying,“If you train well enough, it is a distance that will not kill you.”
So, if your engaging is running as a sport for enjoyment and accept the risks involved then all well and good. If your doing it to be fitter, healthier and leaner then think again.