Friday Finds – 22nd April

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

It may have been a marathon special on Friday Finds recently, but sandwiched as we are between those behemoths of the spring marathon calendar that are Boston and London, the majority of my reading this week has surrounded those events. These are the two events that really capture the imagination of the public on both sides of the Atlantic (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked in the last few days if I’m running London!) so I thought I’d share a roundup of pieces on those events – a retrospective look at Monday’s 120th Boston Marathon and a preview of Sunday’s 36th London Marathon.

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Apart from being the 120th edition of the race, this year’s Boston marathon was also notable for being the 50th anniversary of of Bobbi Gibb’s trailblazing run. At a time when it was thought that women would come to serious harm if they attempted any kind of endurance race, Gibb not only managed to join the start alongside the men (in disguise of course!) but completed the race despite not having access to the kind of training support we would expect now. It’s thanks to pioneers like Bobbi Gibb and Kathrine Switzer than female runners like me have the opportunity to take part in marathons now.

Of course, being the first female finisher did not win Gibb the accolades she would receive now. In a rather fitting way to honour that achievement, this year’s female winner Atsede Baysa presented Gibb with the 2016 trophy. A really beautiful gesture, as without Gibb, Baysa would not have had the opportunity to run, let alone win.

If you’re interested in more of the history surrounding the Boston Marathon, then check out this article from Time magazine which explains a bit more about how the race came into existence (and how come it’s so much older than other well-known marathons such as London, Paris or New York).

And it just wouldn’t be Boston without an inspiring photo of a runner being helped across the finish line by fellow runners, strangers until that moment they sacrificed their own finish time to help another in need. You may have seen the viral photo of just such an occurrence this year. Here’s the story behind the photo:

But this year’s most unusual sight was probably Mark Wahlberg dressed as a police officer. In the interests of authenticity, scenes were being filmed for his upcoming movie depicting events in Boston in 2013. I imagine this will be a pretty hard movie to watch for many.

I’d like to finish this section of my post by congratulating my speedy fellow blogger Kyla on her amazing Boston marathon run. Congratulations!

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In the same way that Boston is a focal point for the marathon in the USA, London is the big draw in the UK and running reports have been dominated by pre-race speculation and advice all week. It’s a pretty iconic event in the UK and has amassed its fair share of interesting facts over the year:

Probably the most captivating story is that of astronaut Tim Peake who plans to run the marathon on the the International Space Station. A marathon is tough enough on Earth, so I wish him luck completing it with the added challenge of zero gravity and a heavy harness!

Much more commonplace is the plethora of bizarre attempts to enter the Guinness Book of Records for completing the marathon either in a a costume less-than-ideal for endurance running, or whilst undertaking some other incongruous activity like dribbling a ball or knitting a scarf. Hats off to anyone prepared to take on something like this!

Potentially adding to the “character building” nature of the London marathon this year is the news that the weather may be rather damp and wintry. I recall the year I ran being very warm. I do hope the suggestion of snow and sleet is wrong though!

But for those who are taking on London this weekend, here are some tips from BBC Newsbeat. While they take a rather light-hearted look at it all, I have to say much of it is pretty accurate. My top tip is when you arrive at the start, get in the queue for the toilet. After your turn, join the queue again – by the time you get to the front, you’ll be thanking me!

If you’re hoping for a particular time, some interesting statistics gathered from information on Strava:

And finally, those of you in London had better get used to hearing this. 5 years on and it still makes me feel emotional! (In fact, as I was playing the link through to check it, Steve, from the other room, shouted out, “stop crying!”)

If you are running London this weekend, then I wish you the very best of luck. I’m feeling a little envious (not about the weather forecast!) and have been reflecting on my own experience back in 2011. I’d particularly like to give a shout out to the bloggers whose journeys I have been following so good luck to Jessie, Tina, and all the other running bloggers out there. I can’t wait to read your stories.

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