Running a Marathon

Ever wondered why a Marathon is an odd distance of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2km)? Before 1908, a Marathon was around 25miles. The change occurred on 24 July 1908, at the London Olympics.

At Princess Mary’s request, the Race was lengthened to 26 miles such that the Race started below Windsor Castle’s Nursery so that the Princess’s children (the future Edward VIII and George VI) could view the start of the Race. An additional 385y was also added as a circuit within White City stadium, so that the race could finish under the royal box = 26miles 385yards.

This had a dramatic effect on the runners, who had all trained for a shorter race. At the 25 miles mark, Dorando Pietri, a small Italian pastry chef, was several minutes ahead of his nearest rival, but as he arrives at the White City stadium, he becomes disorientated and collapses five times in the final lap. It took him a full 10 minutes to pick himself and recover – such was the scale of his lead. As he falls for the fifth time, near the finish line, officials help him up and over the line, a few seconds ahead of his nearest rival, but Dorando is immediately disqualified for being externally assisted!

IT’S NOT FAIR!! Dorando had trained for a 25 miles race, and because an arbitrary decision was taken on the length of the race, he no longer sees his Olympic dream realized. It was the end of his Olympic dream, but not the end of his Marathon running career…. Queen Alexandra was so moved, she gives Dorando an exact copy of the winner’s trophy, whilst £30,000 (in today’s money) was raised by Daily Mail readers as a gift for his supreme effort. Dorando becomes a world-famous sport star, and earns an equivalent of £20M over the next 3 years, mainly through running 22 exhibition matches in the US, of which he won 17.

In a later interview, Dorando said: “Though it’s true that I lost the (1908 Olympic Marathon) race, I won in fame, and started along a road that has taken me a very long way. My current life is so happy that the race seems to me like divine providence.” (D. Pietri). Newspapers of the day described Dorando as the man who won, but lost, and then won again.

How about you? Do you feel like the Christian life is all too much, and you fall so often and miss the mark? You won when you met Jesus; you received salvation as a robe of righteousness, just like a trophy. Like Dorando, you may not achieve your personal goals in life: that qualification/ that job/ that spouse/ those children/ that car/ that house/ that salary/ that fame/ that degree of health and strength, but……………

since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1, 2)

How can we have our eyes fixed on Jesus? Because He is by our side as our running partner who constantly encourages us in our faith journey, whatever seemingly unfair situations we go through!

Discipleship, is not a 2-minute fix; it is a Marathon of learning, and growing, and developing.