Austin Marathon: why run a marathon?

The Austin Marathon from The Daily Texan on Vimeo.

The Austin Marathon took over the streets of Austin, Texas this past weekend. Established in 1992, the Austin Marathon began just a few blocks north of the Texas State Capitol. The marathon’s course took runners through several other Austin landmarks, as well. The Colorado River, the downtown area, Hyde Park, UT, and Memorial Stadium were all attractions to be seen during the 2012 race. Kenya‘s Edward Kiptum was this year’s winner. From Kenya to Austin, Texas, Kiptum, who trains in Mexico, came a long way to win a race. But what drives marathon runners to run, let alone run around the world?

%Gallery-148165%What makes a person want to run, for the sake of running? Having been in and out of love affairs with running for years now, I feel as though I might know at least a few common answers to this question. But I’m not a marathon runner. I deeply respect marathon runners and on some level, I casually aspire to be one, but I know casual aspirations won’t help to get me through a marathon, or even marathon training. Cities across the globe host marathons each year and devoted runners traverse the world to participate in these scattered races. A long run will, no doubt, expose a runner to the landscape of respective host cities. I see the appeal in that, in fact, this is one of the reasons why I’m tempted to think seriously about training for a marathon. Getting to know a location on foot is intimate; it’s a foundation for long-lasting travel memories. But as for what drives people from every background to suck it up and run 26.2 miles as quickly and efficiently as he or she can–it varies.

George Mallory, an explorer who died climbing Mount Everest, once cited his motivation for climbing with a simple response: “Because it’s there”. Perhaps a response like this is what it boils down to for many runners. A marathon is a challenge and finishing a marathon is an accomplishment that commands respect. To do it just to do it seems reason enough to me, for those who feel a pull toward marathon running.

The drive to push the body beyond perceived limits is not only a reason to run in and of itself, but the endorphin high experienced by any person pushing their body’s limits lasts well beyond the pushing. Whether a person is climbing Mount Everest, running a marathon, or even perfecting fast-moving guitar scales with their left hand, we receive an innate gratification when we reap the rewards of hard, physical labor. Runners, in particular, experience ‘Runner’s High‘.

In the case of marathon running, pushing limits or rewarding surges of endorphins are only the beginning when discussing motive. Although often disputed because of the wear and tear experienced by some marathon runners, long distance running, when practiced properly, can yield remarkable health benefits. Runners regularly confess to physical, mental, and emotional improvements at the hand of their running. Running can be used to lose weight, fight depression, stabilize moods, and even gain a more confident self-perception, among other things. Aside from all of this, long distance running is an engaging hobby, devotional lifestyle, and, if a runner is really into it, a great excuse to travel the world.

Have you ever run a marathon? Do you run regularly? Have you ever traveled to run in a race? Tell us about your running and related travel experiences in the comment section below.