Hitting the wall

Has the marathon run its course?

760 MILES LATER, the Seattle Marathon is about to enter its 30th year. In 1970, distance running was a marginal activity at best; after Frank Shorter's '72 gold in Munich, throngs of baby boomers embraced the sport. Nike was born. Magazines were born. Big-city marathons became front-page news.


starts and finishes November 28 at Seattle Center

But those days are over. Marathoning peaked with boomers' youthful vigor. Today, their bad knees, bulging waistlines, and long office hours make the 26.2 miles seem a daunting ordeal. And in the age of Everest Webcasts, the marathon just doesn't seem so extreme as it once did.

Accordingly, the Seattle Marathon has become—to put it kindly—more participant friendly, by adding shorter, easier distances to its one-day schedule. Hoping to attract more than last year's aggregate 8,000 entrants, organizers boast four other events (not "races," mind you): a half-marathon, a half-marathon walk, an 8K walk, and a kiddie stage run. (Only about 1,800 are expected to run the full distance.)

It's unsurprising, but still disappointing, that this test of endurance now seems so pass鮠Anyone who's run the race—this writer included—knows how its satisfaction lasts long after your legs stop hurting (regardless of your finish time). And that's something mere walkers will never appreciate: No pain, no gain.

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