The New York City marathon is held every year on the first Sunday of November. It is a big sporting event with thousands of participants. One can see celebrities and famous sportsmen among the marathon runners. A famous cyclist, whose excellent physical condition helped him complete the marathon in less than three hours, admitted that the race was ‘the hardest physical thing he had ever done’.
While the New York City marathon is the biggest, the Boston Marathon is the oldest one. Boston’s is held in April. Boston is famous for the fact that Roberta Gibb became the first woman to unofficially run that marathon in 1966. At that time, people did not believe women could run marathons. The Olympics did not hold a women’s marathon event until 1984 in Los Angeles, California.
Today’s marathons welcome everyone. The popularity of the sport has spread among people who are interested in health and fitness. Many middle-aged people like to spend a weekend visiting a new city and running a marathon there. Some magazines call the middle-aged people of today the ‘marathon generation’. Forty-three percent of marathon runners in the United States are 40 years old or older. There are many organisations for marathoners. Nowadays many local running clubs offer training programmes that can prepare runners for the big race.
A marathon really starts several months before the race. You need to run about five days every week to prepare. Most runs should be for half an hour. You should also try to run for an hour or more each Sunday. This is a very basic way for an average runner to prepare.
What you can’t prepare for is running in a big marathon with thousands of other participants. A marathon is in many ways a social event. There is a sense of community. The spectators are as much a part of the race as the runners. Almost every age group is present. At the start of the race there is a lot of shouting as the runners want to release some tension. They have three to five hours of hard running ahead of them.
However, there are people who want to run farther. For them ultra-marathons are organised that take running to a different level. An ultra-marathon is any race longer than a marathon. One of the oldest ultra-marathons is held annually in California, USA. It is 160 kilometers long. Last year, 210 people finished the race. The winner, Graham Cooper, finished in eighteen hours and seventeen minutes.