I had this draft title in tow before I ran the Condura Skyway Marathon last Feb 8, 2016 hence, it isn’t my intention to ride on the recent reports of two deaths at that race . But I realized how timely that I should write about this now while people are still reflecting on the memorable things that happened during the race.
Let me start by saying that marathoning is a big personal responsibility and therefore, can only be successfully (and that also means ‘safely’) staged by mature individuals. Whatever happens in a race is largely dependent on the runner’s decisions of the different requirements (e.g. training, time, gears, which race, what cost) involved at marathoning, except of course those items that organizers have committed themselves to provide.
Marathoning is, then, a concious decision. Why many of us decide to jump in on the elusive 42K after a series of 21Ks is a question I have yet to answer myself; still there are others who choose the slow but sure path. But one thing is clear – it’s a lifetime decision to decide to sign up, whether you’re a newbie or seasoned player. I think, without going through the rhetorics, none could compare to how significant a marathon could be, even for hard-fighting Kenyans and elite runners among us. Still, to some, a marathon could be life-changing, having proven that a goal is within reach if we set our heart into it.
But marathons don’t happen overnight. It is a process of change from point A to point B. How and where we get from point to point all depends again on preferences relative to how this so-called training impacts current lifestyle, livelihood and relationships. Many have sacrificed family and work time, even sleep, just to adhere to a strict training plan. Hence it becomes heart-wrenching when things do not go according to plan in a race.
For me, the most important reason for training, especially the base mileages beginning 21K to 32K, leading to the actual 42.195K itself, is having a preview of how our body responds to the stress of a faster heart rate that tires us out over time. While the subject of deaths in marathons belong to the medical experts, it helps to be prudent and seek medical clearance especially if you have risk factors such as being above 45 years of age, have a family history of any cardiovascular illness, or may be currently undergoing treatment for hypertension and other co-morbidities.
Part of progressively training for your desired race outcome is hydration and refueling. While it can be argued that hydration is a major requirement from an organizer of a big race, your refueling strategy is an assignment you and only you can bring to your marathon.
In tying everything up – if one willfully and voluntarily submits himself to make a firm decision to do what it takes to complete a marathon, he needs to minimize the risks of death, illness and or injury by running ONLY with a trained and healthy (not just fit!) body.
I think it’s about time we ask ourselves: Are we responsible marathoners?