Metaphorically, the word “marathon” describes a long and/or grueling task, e.g., a “movie marathon.” But what is the literal definition of a marathon? I’m glad you asked! A marathon is a 26.2 mile, or 42.2 kilometer, race often held on roads. For reference, that is roughly 106 dizzying laps around a standard 400m track. The world record for a marathon is 2:01:09, which was set recently by Kenyan distance-running legend Eliud Kipchoge. It’s hard to appreciate how impressive such a feat is without having sufficient marathon knowledge, but in order to throw down a time of that caliber, one must maintain an average pace of 4:37 per mile.
Recently in the Big Apple, the annual New York City Marathon was held on Sunday, Nov. 6. It was an extraordinarily warm 75°F November day; nevertheless, it was a scene for ample impressive performances. Evans Chebet took the victory in the men’s race, clocking in a time of 2:08:41. With a previous win at the Boston Marathon, this is Chebet’s second major marathon title of the year. In the women’s race, Sharon Lokedi took the gold with a time of 2:23:23, marginally defeating second place by seven seconds. Men’s and Women’s wheelchair races achieved course records set by Marcel Hug and Susannah Scaroni, respectively. Finally, in the nonbinary division, which had the largest number of runners in marathon history, Jake Caswell proved victorious with a time of 2:45:12.
Aside from the superstar athletes, there were several commonfolk that took on the New York City Marathon. Well … common in terms of their aerobic fitness, but certainly not in regard to fame or status. Among the handful of celebrities that sped about the city that never sleeps, Ashton Kutcher boasted an honest 3:54:01. His endurance performance was also an act of charity, as he raised over 1 million dollars for his foundation, THORN. “Pretty Little Liars” actress Claire Holt also displayed her fitness and generosity, completing the New York City marathon in a time of 4:03:12 and raised over 150 thousand dollars for the Boston Children’s Hospital in the process. “The Office” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt“ star Ellie Kemper completed the cumbersome 26.2 mile trek while clocking in a time of 5:17:29. Continuing the trend of selflessness, she asked fans to donate to New York City-based youth organization “The Brotherhood Sister Sol,” which aims to build a more equitable future for Black & Latinx children through education, training, and other programs.
Also in attendance was Swarthmore College’s very own cross-country alumni Tillie Ferguson. Similar to our celebs, Ferduson was also promoting a worthy cause, raising money for ovarian cancer research & treatment. While marathons are difficult in their own right, simply getting to the starting line was a challenge for Ferguson and her brother, as they had to depart at 4 a.m. just to make it to the race in time. However, once the starting gun sounded, they hit the ground running (pun intended), and the support of family and friends was ample encouragement to keep pushing. Ferguson says she enjoyed touring the Big Apple via the 26.2 mile footrace and hopes she can race another marathon soon.
Clearly the New York City Marathon was a sight to behold. Impressive physical feats, stars whizzing left & right, and a cacophony of cheers echoing throughout the avenues. Wish you had been there? Yeah, me too, but fret not, for the marathon is coming to Philadelphia this weekend! One of the top-ten most popular marathons in the nation, the Philadelphia Independence Marathon is primed and ready to host nearly 30,000 runners this Sunday, Nov. 20. While it’s anyone’s guess as to who might win, one thing is for certain: it will be a day full of astonishing displays of athleticism and excitement throughout the streets of brotherly love.