The lure of long distance

If history is any indication, lots of Minnesotans will be heading to Boston next week for the running of the Boston Marathon. MPR reporters Tom Scheck and Tom Weber are veterans of the race, for example.

Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth may be having a problem filling out the field; not so in Boston.

The Boston Globe has produced a very nice perspective on the race.

In my younger days — when I was a reporter/editor — I covered the end of the race and was assigned to a parking garage where the marathoners would lie down after the race. It looked like a war zone and is a picture we rarely see. Why do people run marathons? If you’ve done it, answer below. If you’re going to run in Boston, let me know so we can keep track of you.

  • Joel Calhoun

    I ran the twin cities marathon a couple years ago. I ran because the thought of running that far seemed ridiculous, and yet so many people train for and successfully complete them. I guess for me it was the thought ‘if they can do why can’t I’. It was a great feeling crossing the finish line and accomplishing something that had seemed so preposterous.

  • GregS

    I did the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, the slowest race I ever ran. There were so many runners and the road so narrow, it was impossible to get any speed.

    Still, it was a memorable run.

    Two weeks before the race, on April 1st, a group of Minnesotan met for our pre-race 20 mile warm-up, the temperature was -5F that day, the coldest training run I ever ran.

    Why do people do it?

    Because it is hard and doing difficult things puts distance between ourselves and a ho-hum world, and nothing does that better than a marathon; except for an ultra-marathon of course.

  • JayS

    My wife ran Grandma’s Marathon in 1998. It was kind of a ‘bucket list’ project. The next day I started running and we ran Twin Cities together in 1999. I then ran Grandma’s Marathon seven times. It is quite an accomplishment to set a goal and follow through. I was a classics major in college, so the origins of the race were always of interest as well. I guess, upon reflection, the real lure for me is ‘stories’. Runners have stories just like fisherman, and perhaps is the root of why either takes up such sport.

    My neighbor Mike Kjelland got us into it by retelling the story of his first marathon. The tale of aches and pains and a symbolic ‘check-off’ of the bucket list. It was an intriguing tale, but what hooked us was when he said “that was 15 years ago, and I’ve been doing it ever since!” I wanted to get into a story like that. I planned to run every Grandma’s in the decade of 2000’s. That was a pretty lofty goal, and I’m out of the running, so to speak. But I have my own stories that serve well in my classroom discussion on Interpersonal Communication and other courses I teach. But more importantly, I’ve met and linked to the stories of so many others: the man who runs with the huge POW/MIA flag; the man who is in his 70s and has run a marathon on every continent except antarctica – he had tent camped at spirit mountain the night before, the week before he had been in London or Paris for a marathon, and the following week he would be running around lake Harriet for 24 hours; the man who was running his 100th marathon (i think…he requested his race number to be the same as the number of time he’d run …might have been 201 even); the college buddies running for the first time, on a few weeks training; the first timer who was doubting herself at mile seventeen; the supporters, kids on the race path cheering encouragement; Alan Page playing tuba along the Twin Cities route.

    There are so many lures, stories. And as lonely as running can seem, it really connects us all.

    Watching the finishers at any marathon is incredibly emotional. People of all shapes and sizes and abilities make the attempt. Many will finish, some will not. But we can be inspired my them more than any professional athlete or superstar. Reaching for the ‘stars’ is not that big of a stretch.