Posts Tagged ‘Athens’


Marathon history and one extreme marathon

November 26, 2008

Marathons – a subject close to the hearts of many people – those who have pitted themselves over distances from as short as 13.1 miles, a half marathon, to a full marathon of 26.2 miles and beyond to much greater distances. We give the history and will then present some of the more extreme marathons – just in case you feel so inclined.

History: The marathon  race  commemorates the run of the Athenian soldier Pheidippides who legend tells us ran from a battlefield near Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C., a distance of approximately 25 miles, bringing news of a Greek victory over the  Persians. Pheidippides collapsed  and died at the end of his historic run.

However there has long been debate about the accuracy of this story which we will not discuss here – save it to say that when the modern Olympic games were started in 1896 the marathon was the last event of the games and was fittingly won by a Greek named Spiridos ‘Spiros’ Louis in a time of 2:58:50 hours. The distance was not standardised until the 1924 games when atletes ran 26.22 miles, or 42.196 kms.

Extreme marathons: with over 800 marathons run every year there are a number of extreme versions. Most marathons come under the jurisdiction of the Association of International Marathons and Distance Runners. We will over the next few days give some examples of some of the more extreme marathons.

The Addo Elephant Trail runs: not strictly a marathon in the sense of distance as you can run a 100 mile, 50 mile or 25 mile route. The fifth running of this race will be held on Saturday 2nd May 2009. The 100 miler is run through the Addo Elephant Park, about 50 miles from Port Elizabeth, South Africa and winds its way over the mountains into the Sundays River Valley before crossing the escarpment of the Zuurberg Mountains to finish at the Addo Elephant Park main rest camp.You have to complete the race in 30 hours. The 50 miler and 25 miler routes are run in the same location.

The cost of entering the races varies – the 100 miler is 950 rand, the 50 miler is 550 rand and the 25 miler is 350 rand. For further details go to the website

Below is the schedule and we have included a vdeo from bradke – not of the race but of some of the ‘traffic’ you might meet as you run!


Friday, 01 May 2009

From 14h00:  Registration for at the Lapa, Addo Elephant National Park, Main Rest Camp.  Drop off bags to be taken to registration by 17h00 for distribution to the Checkpoint Captains. (Drop bags will not be accepted after 17h00)

Saturday, 02 May 2009

05h30:  Complimentary coffee/tea at the Kirkwood Hotel

06h00:  Start of the 100 Miler, 50Miler and 25Miler in front of the Kirkwood Hotel.

Sunday, 03 May 2009

06h00:  Cut-off of Silver Buckle, 100Miler.

12h00:  Cut-off of Bronze Buckle, 100Miler.  Finish of the 100Miler, 50Miler and 25Miler at Addo Elephant National Park Rest Camp.

14h00:  Prize Giving.


US ladies Olympic mountain biking medal hope

August 6, 2008

For eight months, Mary McConneloug’s routine was anything but ordinary. Joined by her husband, Michael Broderick, McConneloug traveled all over Europe in an RV so both could participate in high-level mountain bike races.

As a result of her success at the races on her European voyage, the last stop on McConneloug’s journey will be in Beijing for the Olympics. McConneloug is one of two women on the U.S. women’s mountain bike team.

The process to qualify for the Olympic team was a grueling one and McConneloug devised a plan with Broderick to accrue enough points to make the team.

“Our program is not like most in the professional cycling world,” McConneloug said. “We’re kind of the blue-collared, grass roots that came up with doing all the work ourselves. There’s no team manager except us. We’re figuring the logistics and we’re training ourselves. It’s pretty incredible to be able to realize how we’ve gotten here and chosen to do it.”

When they aren’t traversing through Europe, McConneloug and Broderick make their home in Chilmark, on Martha’s Vineyard. They met at a mountain bike race in California 10 years ago and “instantly fell in love.” Their partnership expands to the racing world, as Broderick was one of six men nominated for the U.S. Olympic long team, although he did not make the final cut.

Naturally, Broderick will be in Beijing, though his role will be more than just a supportive spouse. He is also responsible for maintaining McConneloug’s bike, an essential task in mountain biking.

“When we could join our forces together and travel together, and he could help me with the mechanics and I could help him with the nutrition and the laundry, it was just like this little force that when we joined we became stronger together,” McConneloug said. “And here we are 10 years later, loving it.”

McConneloug’s race will take place Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. The event is typically a 30- or 35-mile offroad race up and down a mountain, usually lasting anywhere from one hour and 45 minutes to two hours and fifteen minutes.

This will be McConneloug’s second Olympics, and she is hoping to improve on her ninth place finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

“It was a pretty solid finish to be in top 10 in the world at the Olympics, but I don’t feel like it was my best race ever,” McConneloug, 37, said. “I had been working really hard all season just to qualify and the criteria was set up for qualification that made it really difficult to be on form for the actual event itself. They changed the selection criteria this year and now that we’ve qualified we have the chance to rest a little bit and now build up in time to reach peak fitness in the end of August.

“I’m really hopeful for good legs and also good luck.”

Participating in the Athens Olympics was an awe-inspiring experience for McConneloug, a Fairfax, Calif., native. She did some reading on the history of the Olympics and had an appreciation for how the games gave nations a peaceful way to compete amidst wars.

“I went there with this awe and respect for the games,” she said. “I was honored just to be there representing. I was really just incredibly proud and amazed to be there.”

While those feelings are still strong this time around, McConneloug is going in with higher expectations. With a second chance to live out her dream, she is determined to make all of those months in an RV driving around Europe pay off.

“I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I’m smarter than I’ve ever been in the racing world and I know how to play the game so I want to go there and do my best and see if I can’t pull off an amazing finish,” McConneloug said. “It’s an opportunity and I think I’ve learned over the years that if we’re really focused on what we’re doing and we believe what we can accomplish we can do it. I’m ready to go there with an open heart and open mind to all the potential that can lie ahead.”

Mary McConneloug of Chilmark is one...
Photo by Courtesy
Mary McConneloug of Chilmark is one of two women mountain bikers competing for the United States in Beijing.
And here is a video of Mary discussing her US National XC victory of 2007 – way to go Mary, lets hope she maintains that position in Beijing.

Thanks to Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald for the article and dave99biker for the YouTube video.