Everyone knows someone who’s run the marathon. Today’s big-city races—in places like Boston, New York, Berlin, and London—draw Olympic hopefuls competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars and hordes of weekend warriors raising money for their favorite charities or just hoping to check off “complete a marathon” on their bucket lists. Marathoning has birthed an industry of energy supplements and performance gear, training manuals and glossy magazines, corporate sponsorships and fitness expos. And nearly half of marathon entrants are women.
It’s an incredible change from 50 years ago. The very few marathons that did exist – even Boston’s, the oldest continuously run marathon in the world – attracted less than one thousand runners. The entrants were all amateurs; finishers at Boston were rewarded with a bowl of Dinty Moore beef stew. Oh, and the runners were all male. Women were banned from running marathons.
It’s spooky to read – similar to watching Mad Men, it’s weird to realize these are thing that happened within a generation or two. I know numerous women who won’t watch Mad Men because they lived through that time period.
The story reminds me of how yoga is perceived in current culture. That for some, it’s solely for women. But there’s nothing inherently feminine about it. That’s beside the fact that there’s a wide variety in yoga – on one end it can be entirely spiritual, physical at the other.