Once again a major American marathon has filled its field in record time. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that it topped out at 45,000 in just 31 days. This comes after new qualifying standards were announced for the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathon after they blitzed through registration in a mere 8 hours last fall.
Even with the emphasis on self-directed healthcare, are we flirting with elements of the dot com and housing bubbles? Is it possilbe we could see a radical downsizing of the market? Just asking. Besides, how long can it go on like this?
25-30 years ago you might have impressed somebody ‘s drunken uncle with tales of your marathon exploits. Back there were only a handful of marathon finishers nationwide. Gaunt men, generally, given to thick glasses and thin chests. But now after an entire generation of baby boomers traded pharmacological zeal for endorphin overdosing, who, really, wants to slog alongside some flower-power hold over who’s wheezing like an aging cocker spaniel for 26 godforsaken miles? Where’s the Kevorkian aid station when you need it?
Accordingly, there are some who wish Frank Shorter would’ve captured his Olympic gold medal in the 10,000 meters rather than in the marathon back in Munich `72. If he had maybe the running wave that flooded this country over the next decade would have spilled out over a much saner distance. Alas, Frank could only muster fifth in the 10,000 meter final in Germany before winning the marathon gold. And so it was that a push toward 26 miles would come to animate the next generation into lives of gluton-free gift-buying in lieu of true signs of affection like jewelry and cash.
Today, the country’s most popular and prestigious personality disorder seminars remain the big-city marathons in New York, Chicago, and Boston. Sure, there are the mega-shorter races like San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers 12k where half the field runs nude (and the other half is less appropriately clad), but since the glitter of Shorter’s gold, it has been hard to dislodge the marathon from the hearts and minds of the American Federation of Under-regulated Over Achievers (AFUOA).
Notwithstanding, please remember that all races remain a challenge. And though the 5K,10K, Half-marathon set can tax a body’s system, it generally won’t end – like the marathon – with you resembling a surprise guest on the Jerry Springer Show.
“Now, let’s bring out the man whose body is one entire cramp.”
“Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”
In Chicago, as we see in most races around the country, the field is fronted by a collection of extremely fleet punctuation marks in the guise of men and women from East Africa. These gentle folks are capable of delivering oxygen to working muscles faster than the HMOs can deliver campaign contributions to their incumbent Congress people. But don’t be discouraged. There’s a reason that people from Kenya run fast while you and I can only drive fast. And it’s the same reason dogs lick certain parts of their bodies and we don’t – all part of God’s great plan. Tell you what, you give every teenager in Eldoret, Kenya a Chevy Volt on his 16th birthday, and in five years they wouldn’t run so fast either.
Not to say you, too, won’t want to feel the burn and sprint the final 400 meters as the finish line announcer alerts the next of kin to your imminent arrival. But please beware. This drive to achieve will invariably spur your under-gifted, marginally trained body into a gear you never actually possessed. Accordingly, blood will rush – deep, dark, and catabolic – into your upper thighs carrying with it a debilitating load of lactic acid in its mighty stream. This, in turn, will cause your thighs to rub together in a manner only fully appreciated by Oprah.
At the same time, odds are you will have made it across the line, chafed thighs, singed lungs, finisher’s medal and all. But please, do try to pick it up a little along the way. There’s only so many times we can keep listening to Rocky as you rock out to the Archies cover band out at mile 14.