Sports Zone

Marathoners stretch the limits

George Herbert Leigh Mallory (1886-1924) was an English clergyman who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s. Mallory and his climbing partner disappeared somewhere high on the mountain, until in 1999, when his body was discovered. Though the attempt was a failure, eventually, the mountain was ”conquered in 1952 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. What was once thought impossible has become so popular today that every May, thousands of climbers pay huge sums of money in hopes of saying, ”I climbed Mt. Everest.” Like Phillipides, some may die in the attempt.
Comparing running a marathon to climbing Mt. Everest is a cliché, but there is something common to both endeavors. Why do humans run marathons? I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are marathoners, but I can say of every person I’ve known who ran a marathon (at least for the first time): They wanted to prove that they could!
Humans are fickle creatures who don’t like limits.
I have never run a marathon but I frequently have this conversation with myself (Not in public).
Audacious Joey: ”I’d like to run a marathon.”
Prudent Joey: ”You’re sixty-four years old and have ruptured discs in your back.”
Audacious Joey: ”So? I can do anything I set my mind to.”
Prudent Joey: ”Don’t do it. You’re delusional.”
Audacious Joey: ”Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
The first time I heard of running 26.2 miles, I was unaware of things like history and human physiology, and naïve about what humans will do to prove something, overcome obstacles and surpass arbitrary barriers.
Running 26.2 miles seemed impossible. It was about that same time in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to believe that we could place a human on the moon before the decade ended. Said Kennedy, ”We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” Gosh, I wish I wrote that.
Humans do many crazy things; they fly off mountains in wingsuits, dive to the bottom of oceans, walk barefoot through fire, meditate in silence for years alone in caves, eat hot dogs on Coney Island until their stomachs groan, walk on tight wires 1400 feet above New York City, run 200 miles non-stop without sleep in Death Valley, sail alone around the world, and even swim with Great White sharks!
Freed from the life-and-death urgency of daily survival, humans seek new challenges and push limits. Weighed against those endeavors, running 26.2 miles is relatively tame. Take that, prudent Joey!



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos