What’s It Like to Walk A Marathon and Why I’d Recommend You Do It…
by Sudha Nair-Iliades
As a competitive sprinter (many moons ago), I never thought I’d be championing walking over running, but into my third marathon this year, I’ve come to enjoy the joys of walking 42.195 kms spread across a good six and a half hours. Once you’re past the sniggers of “anybody could walk a marathon, what’s the big deal”? the sheer sense of achievement and adrenaline rush when you cross the finish line is indeed a big deal, if only to catch fleeting respect from your teens.
Here are a few reasons why I’d advocate walking the marathon:
- If you’ve always wanted to join the elite club of marathoners but belong to the club of the once-fit, walking the marathon is a more accessible, achievable goal. It’s still hard work but nowhere near the rigours of running a marathon.
- You have more time to take in the weird sartorial tastes of some of your fellow competitors, their quirks and their stories. Walking actually leaves you time to chat, exchange pleasantries and share in the common motivation of finishing a marathon. Last year, fellow chatters included a re-enactment fan dressed as a Spartan soldier all the way down to painfully uncomfortable, blister-inducing sandals, a Chinese girl in her early twenties who tip-toed her way to the finish line (and matched us kilometer for kilometer) and an American couple who pit-stopped for raki and a round of sirtaki cheering us on with infectious enthusiasm. You also have the garrulous lot who expect you to listen to their life stories when all you want to do is get your mind off your aching rib cage!
- Walking the marathon is more about completing the race than shaving off a few precious seconds from your Personal Best. Walkers can afford to be more human, less disgruntled.
- And what’s more, it takes a gentler toll on your body than the grueling training a marathon runner puts their body through. Your recovery time is a lot faster too – I was in at work the following morning.
- It’s a great way to discover or re-discover your city – this time it might be an eerie reminder of the devastating fires in Mati over the summer, but it’s often pondering over urban existential minutiae that you gloss over when you zoom past in a car – like the plethora of ‘fruit emporia’ in Nea Makri – and imagining the mess when an overzealous shopper topples the fruit mountain. Or sometimes its more practical things, like mentally chalking potential pee stops en route.
- It’s a great way to bond with an old friend, both while training, but especially on the day – managing each other’s highs and lows by hitting the right boost buttons.
- When you’re tired of being your own personal cheerleader, you just need to high-five the little kids lining the streets and raise a token toast to the yiayiades with their 11 o’clock Sunday ouzo to feel alive. Every fifth kilometer, the music gets cranked up and it feels like you are part of a big, joyous fest – minus the hangover!
- One of the greatest joys was to see the collective effort of volunteers, organisers, policemen, joining the athletes and cheering citizens in sharing the love for the sport and their city.
- In my case, I detected a hint of respect from my children, and that alone made it all well worth it!