Definition of a Marathon




noun: marathon; plural noun: marathons

  1. a long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 km)

Since I started running, I’ve heard some people refer to races as ‘marathons,’ and frankly, it irks me a little bit. As the definition above says, a marathon is “strictly one of 26 miles and 385 yards.” It is not a 5K, it is not a 10K, it is not an ultra.

I had one friend say to me, “oh, you’re running? So and so runs about 30 – 40 marathons a year.” Ummm…exqueeeze me? Is this person in Runners World magazine? If so, I’d like to meet them.

I even had a friend refer to a 5K as a marathon. I simply give them the stink eye and wish them well on their 5K (not marathon).

The problem is, I don’t want to sound like a marathon snob. I’m not. And, I don’t want anyone else to think I am, so I don’t lecture folks about it (I guess until now). I have one under my belt and I by no means think any distance less than 26.2 miles is nothing less than amazing. ALL RACES ARE AMAZING from the 400 meter dash to the 100 mile ultras. It takes a lot of effort to train for any of those races, but please call them what they are. If I ran 27 miles, I sure wouldn’t call it an Ultra as typically begin at 50K. Of course there are timed ultras, etc., but I digress.

So, if you’re just starting out with running and/or if you have no desire to run a marathon, embrace your distance and call it what it is. You’ve worked hard for the races you train for no matter what distance it is. You should be proud. I know I’m proud of you!


12 thoughts on “Definition of a Marathon

  1. It irks me, too. I respect all distances and races, I just want people to call them what they are! I heard a couple of co-workers talking not to long ago and one said, “You know Nancy? She runs a lot. She runs marathons. She runs 5-mile marathons now!” Argh!!!

  2. my mom is always writing on FB- good luck at your marathon today!!! I’m like, MOM its a half marathon or…10 miler….or 5k! haha Same with the 10k Sole of the City- “good luck with your 10 mile run!”. haha.

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