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manly marathons
April 16, 2004 4:19 PM   Subscribe

I've run a marathon and it was hard. Then I learned about ultra marathoners doing 50 and 100 mile runs in one day. Then there are the marathons and ultra marathons in rough places, like Death Valley. Then there's the grand daddy of difficulty: The Marathon Des Sables. It's 6 days and 6 marathons long, run in a desert with temps topping 110F, you have to carry your week's gear and food, and you are limited to 9 liters of water a day. Here are some photos and blogger Ben Hammersley's current results are here. The event finishes tomorrow. [via jay allen]
posted by mathowie (18 comments total)

 
disclaimer: I sent Ben 50 pounds months ago for his charities, but forgot about the run until now.
posted by mathowie at 4:21 PM on April 16, 2004


Getting there is half the fun
posted by Postroad at 4:28 PM on April 16, 2004


That's pretty interesting, would be interested to find out what happened on his stage 4, his stats suggest something went badly wrong for him and its dragged his whole time and placing down badly.
posted by biffa at 4:29 PM on April 16, 2004


Then there are the marathons and ultra marathons in rough places

indeed.
the guy who invented the Marathon in the first place, Phidippides, possibly ran more than the by-now-traditional 26 miles. it is unclear.
maybe 140. maybe even 280.
it is hardly surprising that the poor bastard died soon after finishing the run.
talk about extreme sports.

Phidippides (also spelt Pheidippides or Philippides, d. (490 BC) was the first-ever runner of the marathon. The actual nature of his run is not clear.
The most common version of the story has that he ran 26 miles to Athens to tell the Athenians that their navy had defeated the Persians in the battle of Marathon (490 BC) after which he collapsed of exhaustion, and died. Certain sources have him not only running to Athens but also then running back to Marathon to deliver another message to the Athenian commanders.
Herodotus states that the "professional runner" was sent with a message asking for aid all the way to Sparta (over 140 miles) and back, making the initial run in two days. Herodotus also states that Phidippides met with Pan on his return journey near Mount Parthenium.

posted by matteo at 4:41 PM on April 16, 2004


I've got a friend who does mountain foot races. He can run something like nearby Mount Timpanogos in 3-4 hours. Considering that it's at least a vertical mile from the trailhead and over 14 miles (and doing the mountain in 9 hours will often wipe me out), this is pretty impressive to me. Of course, it's all par for the course when training for things like the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.
posted by weston at 6:52 PM on April 16, 2004


Marathoners are a pretty amazing breed. Personally, my hero in this regard is Terry Fox, who ran 26 miles a day, every day during his attempted cross-Canada run, totalling 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles). And with one artificial leg. That sheer determination astounds me.

The race linked to, however, just doesn't do it for me...at some point that seems so pointless.
posted by livii at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2004


Very cool. It appears this race is also an exercise in navigation.
posted by stbalbach at 7:10 PM on April 16, 2004


Does anybody do this sort of thing barefoot?
posted by alumshubby at 7:14 PM on April 16, 2004


Good god ... so it turns out Iron Man triatheletes are ... wussies?
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:31 PM on April 16, 2004


A water limit seems kind of disturbing. Hello, brain damage!
posted by abcde at 10:27 PM on April 16, 2004


On the one hand: impressed.
On the other: aren't there better hobbies out there, like . . . oh . . . anything?!

This strikes me as one of the weirder manifestations of privilege; I'm lucky enough to have a cushy life, so I must make a hobby of doing some that, under most other circumstances, would be torture, trauma, or a war crime.

Then again, I think it should be legal to hunt joggers, so what do I know.
posted by dame at 10:55 PM on April 16, 2004


That's pretty interesting, would be interested to find out what happened on his stage 4, his stats suggest something went badly wrong for him and its dragged his whole time and placing down badly.

That's what I thought too, until it hit me. Look at who finished around him.

It's a bunch of other Brits. They probably stopped off at a local for a few pints and lost track of time.
posted by fooljay at 11:38 PM on April 16, 2004


Then again, I think it should be legal to hunt joggers, so what do I know.

Legalize it? That would take all the fun out of it.
posted by Rob1855 at 3:34 AM on April 17, 2004


Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Mike Stroud: Seven marathons in seven continents in seven days to help fight heart disease.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:29 AM on April 17, 2004


I still think the Race Across AMerica is the most extreme endurance event. 20 hours cycling, 2 hours massage, 2 hours sleep for 6 - 7 days straight. Delirium, and paralysis are normal(!) occurences at the end of this one. Due to handlebar pressure on the carpal tunnel, I've heard that finishers can't hold/turn a doorknob for about two weeks after.
posted by bashos_frog at 5:35 AM on April 17, 2004


for those of you in the bay area, the western states 100 is close enough to go see.
i wanted to check it out to try to get a sense of ultras, with an eye towards doing one, so i volunteered at the 99 mile aid station last year.
i was pretty amazing to watch the runners coming through after almost 100 miles on the trail. temperatures in the canyons were reported to be 120 degrees that year. (the winner did it in 16 hours, most people finish in 24 - 36 hours)

if you get a chance, go check it out.
posted by dolface at 7:45 AM on April 17, 2004


If you think marathons are difficult now, how about when you're as old as this guy ? He stopped running about the time India was partitioned and didn't start again until he retired to Britain, aged 82. Still running marathons 11 years later. Apparently he's even improving on his time, running his first sub-6 hour marathon last year. I'm 25 - running for the bus is enough to finish me for the day...
posted by prentiz at 6:40 PM on April 17, 2004


Update: Ben's Thoughts on the Marathon des Sables. He made it, and is in good spirits. He might even go back!
posted by plemeljr at 1:36 PM on April 30, 2004


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