A Fast Mile Is More Impressive Than a Slow Marathon
I’ll always find it more impressive when someone tries to run their fastest possible Mile than when someone putters through an ultra and then expects adulation because they managed not to die.
By Martin Fritz Huber, Outside
Last year, speaking to Outside, ultrarunner Rickey Gates made the following observation while reflecting on Mount Marathon, the brief but notoriously brutal mountain race in Seward, Alaska: “There’s a great fascination with ultras being harder than other races,” Gates said, “but the Mile is every bit as difficult as 100 miles if you apply yourself to it.”
Coming from a guy who is currently wrapping up a 4,000-mile run across the country, the notion that four laps around a track can potentially pose a serious challenge might seem a little surprising. The Mile is every bit as difficult as 100 miles? How can that be the case? Only a sliver of the global running population will ever experience the rigors of racing Western States or Leadville. The Mile run, on the other hand, is firmly ensconced as an enduringly unpopular fixture in high school gym classes from Miami to Anchorage.
When the goal is merely to finish, it’s logical to assume that the longer the race, the more formidable the task. There are exceptions, of course. Mount Marathon is “only” a 5K, but every year runners struggle to complete the precipitous 3,000-foot ascent/descent in one piece. In 2012, someone disappeared.
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