death by paper cut

{December 3, 2006}   Marathon (Wo)man

for the uninitiated, a full marathon spans 42.194 km. for those familiar with the geography of singapore but unable to grasp the magnitude – its roughly like running from tuas to changi i.e. the length of our nation state.

according to some sources, the origins of the marathon was a myth. to other sources, it is an account of an athenian herald who died in the line of duty. and yet to some other sources, it is an account that was exaggerated and mythified.

The first known written account of a run from Marathon to Athens occurs in the works of The traditional story relates that Pheidippides, an Athenian herald, was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon. He ran 150 miles in two days. He then ran the 34.5 km (21.4 miles) from the battlefield by the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word “Νενικήκαμεν!” (Nenikékamen, We were victorious!) and died on the spot….the Greek writer Plutarch (46-120), in his essay On the Glory of Athens. Plutarch attributes the run to a herald called either Thersippus or Eukles. Lucian, a century later, credits one “Philippides.” It seems likely that in the 500 years between Herodotus’s time and Plutarch’s, the story of Pheidippides had become muddled with that of the Battle of Marathon, and some fanciful writer had invented the story of the run from Marathon to Athens.

kudos to the geek for completing his first 10km today. it remains to be seen if the experience would spur him on to improve his personal best or if it has made him sworn off running for good.

this time last year, i also completed the 10km category at the singapore standard charted marathon, however it wasn’t my first 10km. it was the most crowded marathon i ever took part in. i had to negotiate between sweaty bodies in order to speed up. the massive numbers however also contributed to the carnivalesque atmosphere.

supporters and finished runners would cheer on anyone nearing the finishing line. no matter how cliche ‘united by the moment’ might sound, runners and all involved in sporting events do truly encourage fellow participants and enthusiastically applaud each returning runner. all have trodden past the same route, pounded the same pavement and completed the same minimum distance. but i think the camaraderie stems beyond the race itself because for each kilometre covered during the marathon, hundreds of kilometres might have been covered in preparation for it.

just among my ‘running-kakis’ we are able to empathise with each other’s struggle in striving for our personal best. i thought i was alone when i sustained running injuries such as shin splint at the peak of my running enthusiasm. then cm shared with me that she too sustained shin splint and had to grudgingly lay off running for a while. to her chagrin, it happened just before a major race that she was preparing for. recently, jc too complained about sustaining shin splint, and now i am in the position to fully empathise with her and feel a bit like a veteran.

cm, cm, she can take any encounter and turn it into poetry, i especially love her description about her running experience because it would then literally be poetry in motion:

anway it didn’t rain. i ran. it was good because it was long. but it was bad because it was broken. the strokes and franz ferdinand is good to run to. so are the random cute lazy quirky tangy tracks on lush. but slash the hip hop. the moon had backlighting and a slim furry long horizontal dash of cloud across the front. when those sweet girl tracks with cute thoughtful love song lyrics came on lush i thought of you and smiled to myself in my blue nike singlet and my faithful but dying blue/black nike shoes, pounding the pavement, sometimes like a phenomenon in my head. (13 January 2006)


mei says:

it doesn’t seem so poetic when i’m writing it 🙂 sweet, tis’ good to know you like what i write.

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