In 450 BC, a Greek messenger named Philippides purportedly ran 26.2 miles to Athens in order to inform the city’s assembly their army had secured a victory at the Battle of Marathon before promptly dropping dead after delivering the news.
As far as I’m concerned, that is the textbook definition of a “cautionary tale.”
However, plenty of other people have apparently viewed that story as a valid reason to voluntarily run 26.2 consecutive miles in the marathons that over one million masochists endure on an annual basis.
As a fairly active person who nonetheless finds the concept of running a single mile a fairly daunting task, I can’t personally say I understand the appeal of subjecting yourself to the kind of race that is also statistically linked to the deaths of multiple participants on a yearly basis.
Simply competing in a marathon is a tall enough task on its own, but there are more than a few people out there who decide they need to up the level of difficulty—like the man who dressed up as Big Ben at the London Marathon in 2019 and suffered a setback after getting stuck at the finish line.
The 2023 iteration of that event featured some other individuals who decided to go above and beyond, including a member of the Royal Marines who appeared to set a world record when everything was said and done.
According to the BBC, Corporal Sam Hammond strapped a refrigerator he dubbed “Fridget Jones” to his back before arriving at the starting line and ended up completing the race in four hours and 52 minutes.
The stunt—which helped him raise close to $6,000 for the military charity SSAFA—put Hammond in contention for a Guinness World Record concerning the “fastest marathon carrying a household appliance” (a thing that apparently exists), and it’s believed he broke the preexisting mark by around 57 minutes.
Marathon runners are truly a different breed.