Honolulu, HI. — In today’s modern architectural aesthetic the open floor-plan has become the preferred design, a wall-dispensing motif to create an enlarged sense of space. So, too, in today’s modern marathon world has the removal of barriers come into vogue, as the long-feared “Wall” has all but been torn down at the upper echelon of competition.
Born in the wispy tendrils of myth – see the legend of Pheidippides – the marathon “Wall” is what made the event such an epic challenge. A much respected and feared barrier for any runner who assailed the marathon’s mighty length, The Wall is an invisible construction erected with the mortar of hubris and desire that stood as a bulwark against those who ran out of energy before the race ran out of distance.
But with today’s professional athletes building on training methods of the past, the marathon has been humbled. Rather than a test of endurance the event has been turned into a test of speed over distance. Athletes sequestered in monastic camps deep in the highlands of East Africa or in the rarefied atmospheres of the Rockies or Alps over-train for the distance. These days we often hear of the top men doing at least one, and as many as three, 40Km runs in a training cycle, and many more 35Ks jaunts to bolster their longer runs. Yes, today’s elite men and women stand on the starting lines of marathons world-wide unafraid of what lies ahead. Yet there remain exceptions to the rule, and we witnessed one such exception this past Sunday at the 41st Honolulu Marathon. (more…)