Marathoners are usually fully prepared to run the entire 26.2-mile distance of the race. They have endurance developed from running the same length repeatedly. Aside from stamina, training strengthens their legs to enable them to reach the finish line.
On rare occasions though, physical fitness is not the only readiness that runners should have when competing. This was the lesson of survivors of the 100-kilometer (62-mile) ultra-marathon in Gansu, China in May.
Twenty-one runners died in the said mountain race not because they were not prepared for the longer run, but because they were unprepared for the unexpected extreme weather that suddenly occurred during the competition. Worse, organizers themselves were also not prepared to deal with the freezing rain, gale and hail that left contestants suffering from hypothermia on 22 May.
The only one prepared at the time was a shepherd who rescued six runners before 1,200 searchers and rescuers arrived and helped find and bring the marathoners to safety.
Meanwhile, a recent marathon in the UK went smoothly and safely for some 8,000 participants as they did not encounter abnormal weather condition. However, it still left many finishers with a memorable experience after the race ended with a bizarre result.
The annual Brighton Marathon in Beach Village, Brighton Beach returned last 12 September after an 18-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on sports.
It was a runner named Ollie Garrod who led throughout the race with no contestants seen behind him at the end of the 26th mile. But it was his closest rival Neil McClements who was declared the winner.
McClements caught up with Garrod — who slowed down — in the last 200 meters and overtook him to cross the finish line first with a time of 2:33:44. Garrod reached the finish line at 2:34:01.
McClements won even when it was Garrod who first completed the 26.2-mile distance as he was the one who first crossed the finish line that organizers mistakenly placed 568 meters further.
The race established a rare milestone of having two finishers who are technically both winners and losers.