If you are a running aficionado, you know that the race of races, the Boston Marathon, is the pinnacle running experience. But the Boston Marathon isn’t open to just any biped with a set of sneakers. The price of admittance is to have previously run a marathon in lickety-split time, a qualifying time that is scaled to age and sex. This benchmark was initiated to cut down the number of participants thronging the streets of Boston, but it had the opposite effect. It created a running Everest that people from all over the globe want to scale. In his age group, Bob must run 26.2 miles in less than 3 hours, 15 minutes, which breaks down to a 7:25 minute mile, 26 times in a row.
The first-ever marathoner was a Greek soldier, Pheidippides, commissioned to take the good news of Athens’ victory over the Persians back to his city-state 24.8 (but who’s counting?) miles away. The story goes that Pheidippides ran the whole way without stopping, delivered the news, and fell over– dead. Pheidippides didn’t train, you see. But hang out at any marathon and you’ll see scads of emaciated-looking masochists crossing the finish line and then falling over, not dead.
You probably noticed that 24.8 isn’t 26.2. Why the discrepancy? At the 1908 London Olympic games, King Edward wanted to score some sweet seats for the royal family. His idea: Why not start the race at Windsor Castle, exactly 26 miles from Olympic Stadium? Then, in a fit of patriotism or consummate sycophancy, event organizers added 385 more yards to the total course, ensuring the runners would finish directly in front of the king and queen’s viewing box. That accounts for the .2 after the 26. Even today, runners will shout, “God save the queen!” at mile marker 24.
Bob has been training for this day for six months, but really he’s had it on his mind since the last time he ran a marathon and missed qualifying by 3 minutes (2011). This time he trained harder and smarter. The weather forecast is a perfect 40 degrees; the course is flat. No excuses, right? 😉 Seriously, he will be disappointed if he doesn’t qualify, but finishing a marathon without falling over dead at the end is an accomplishment in any time. I’m so very proud of him. Whether it’s Boston or bust this Sunday, he’s my hero and a constant source of encouragement and discipline. Go Bob— Run in such a way as to obtain… 1 Corinthians 9:24