Running. The first form of high-speed transportation for O.G. hominins. Initially used as transportation to food, just like getting on Acela because you’re starving and need to get to a McDonald’s stat.
Then we stuck our big, clumsy opposable thumbs into it and running became a sport, for better or worse. How fast can you go, how far can you go and the Venn Diagram sweet spot of how fast can you go for X distance. The biggest twist was: that distance didn’t need to actually get you anywhere other than where you started. Wave Hi to Track (of Track and Field), where no matter the amount you run, you don’t end up any farther away.
Also the treadmill.
Move your legs up and down on a spinning surface for miles at a time and your body literally goes nowhere. This has got to be the furthest we’ve ever been from the origins of running; the antithesis of using our legs for the purpose of getting somewhere. Unless it’s deeper into your own skull.
I’m fascinated by running ridiculously long distances on a track or short loop. The idea of nobly sacrificing your comfort, putting your body through the motions, pushing against humanity’s capacity for pain all while essentially being trapped on a hamster wheel is just goofy. It drips with misery and kind of stupidity too. It really brings running’s pointlessness to the forefront.
Because of the fascination, I’ve researched this hamster wheel, going nowhere phenomena. If you haven’t heard about these cases, allow me to momentarily embody both Eve and Gwen Stefani as I blow your mind.
Marathons: Mentally taxing beasts, usually covering 26.2 miles of a city, town, rolling hills, woods, waterfront thoroughfares.
For Keith Giroux it was the same gray concrete floor and walls over and over. On a treadmill–which had an automated function to shut down every hour. He also didn’t have sneakers, but that’s because he was incarcerated. So maybe it’s easier to understand his choice to marathon on a treadmill, considering the lack of other options in prison.
Runners in Virginia were outside on a high school track for their marathon, racing 105.5 laps as a last ditch effort to qualify for Boston. (Again, a semblance of a reason for the monotonous course.)
But they’re cropping up everywhere. Indoor marathons exist in Minnesota, Arlington, Wisconsin, New England, and New York City; places with weather, with people refusing to allow nature to interfere with their whims to run 26.2 miles whenever they want. People happily climbing aboard their hamster wheels.
These are all nothing–splatters of coffee specks on the edge of a mug–when you compare them to the 3,100 Mile Race. It started in 1986 with 1,000 miles and was upped to 3,100 in 1997.
Where is it held? Well, on the street in Jamaica, Queens, New York, around a high school. It’s one block. People run in 18-hour-day increments around one city block. For upwards of 40, closer to 52 days in a row. If that is not the most impressive, baffling, unbelievable statistic in the world, I don’t care what is.
The 3,100 miler is the longest certified footrace in the world. People come from everywhere to do it, like pilgrims to a mecca and it’s invitation only. I imagine it like a royal summons (I’ve been watching The Crown)–whether you want to or not, if you’re asked, you damn well RSVP.