Vets to run 21 marathons in 21 days, sort of

A pair of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan started a 550-mile run on Saturday morning in Kittery, Maine. The press is labeling this “21 marathons in 21 days,” but this is misleading on two fronts. For one thing, a marathon is a 26.2-mile event held on a certified course. Covering 26 miles on one’s own does not a marathon make.

But that’s not the only misleading aspect of this still-impressive feat. As it happens, these two won’t be running side by side, but as a relay team. Every day, each man will run 13.1 miles, with one “handing off” to the other. With this in mind, each veteran will, in effect, be putting in three 90-mile weeks in a row. That’s a lot for mortals, to be sure, but the kicker is that a TV report I saw within the past hour carried the claim that these guys have been training 60 to 80 miles per day. Color me skeptical out of hand on that score. I once averaged over 100 miles a week for a year and I know what kinds of stresses high mileage impart. And any experienced ultramarathoner would surely laugh at the report.

I don’t want to sound like I’m shitting on these guys by any means and I wish them the best. But the realities of their adventure stray so far from what the press is throwing out there that it’s difficult for an experienced runner to not comment.