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It increases your endurance, helps make your heart stronger, improves circulation, and strengthens your muscles. You also feel less stressed and more upbeat. You may be guessing that I am talking about a rigorous fitness regime and a strictly-controlled diet. But all these benefits are coming from running a marathon. To have completed 26.2 miles is one of the largest physical challenges you can set for yourself. Most marathoners equate the day they finished their first marathon with other special day, like their wedding or the birth of their child(ren). It doesn’t matter if you finish last. But you are still a marathoner and are part of an elite club of people who have challenged their minds and bodies and have emerged victorious. Advertisement of sports drink Gatorade says, “There is a moment in every race; a moment where you can either quit, fold, or say to yourself, ‘I can do this’.”

The origin of the marathon begins around 490BC at the time when the Persians were invading Greece. The most popular legend tells of a Greek messenger Pheidippides who was tasked with the mission of informing the peoples of Athens that the Greeks have defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Pheidippides ran the approximately 25 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians. The Olympic Games actually inspired the first Boston Marathon, which culminated on 19th April, 1897. After 1896, the next few Olympic marathons varied in distance with the idea that as long as all runners ran the same course, there was no need to keep the distance exactly the same. For the 1908 London Olympics, the course was laid out from Windsor Castle to White City stadium, about 26 miles. However, to locate the finish line in front of the royal family’s viewing box, an extra 385 yards was added inside the stadium. Hence, the marathon tradition of yelling “God save the Queen” in the last mile.

Marathon races in Myanmar are extremely rare and the most notable among all is the Yoma Yangon International Marathon (YYIM). YYIM had been organizing annual marathons. Myanmar’s first international marathon was held in Yangon in 2013 by YYIM with the intention of showcasing country’s budding sporting credentials, one of the signs of dramatic changes sweeping the former junta-ruled country. Runners from the U.S., Austria, Philippines, Kenya, Ethiopia and Sweden, had participated.

In 2019 more than 9000 local and international runners took part across four categories – 42km Full Marathon, 21km Half Marathon, 10km Challenge and 3km Fun Run. The first of the four race categories, the 42km Full Marathon, was flagged off at Thuwunna National Indoor Stadium. In the Men’s Full Marathon, Peter Ket of Kenya finished first with a time of 2 hours 30 minutes 13 seconds (02:30:13). Ket took home a prize of  $2700 (K4.1 million). In January 2020 also marathon is held with the theme ‘Run for Children’ as fund raising efforts to improve the welfare of children and providing education for the less privileged. YYIM 2020 fundraising efforts will be donated to five different charity groups in the Yangon Division. Bagan Temple Marathon will also take place in November in ancient temple city of Bagan. Three competitive distances are available at this event: full marathon, half marathon and a 10km run. Ksolodnikova from Russia who participated in Bagan Temple Marathon in 2019 says, “Bagan is a great place to see at least once in a lifetime. Bagan’s beauty and historical significance is unsurpassed. Sacred pagodas and more than 2,000 beautiful temples scattered across the plains of Bagan create a mystical, striking landscape. The marathon course took runners on a voyage of discovery into this alluring land”.  Another review by Fergie from Spain who had participated in 8 marathons says about 2019 Bagan Temple Marathon, “This tour and marathon was just amazing from start to finish. Professional guides, great hotels and restaurants: much better than I had imagined. Really good choices of sight-seeing tours and the timings to suit our needs. The marathon itself was just awesome.”

[wp_paypal_payment]Marathons can be inspiring. “Doesn’t matter if you are speeding, crawling to the finish, or anything in between, someone on the sidelines is going to start running soon because of seeing you pushing through this distance” says veteran runner Dane Rauschenberg who has run 52 marathons in 52 weekends in 2006.

Many marathons benefit charities and worthwhile causes, from disaster relief to fighting cancer. Running for something that’s bigger than you is a great way to stay motivated to keep training, meet other runners to train with, and can make your training and races even more meaningful. 

Filip Suan from America who loves to participate in marathon races says, “For me, running a marathon seems like a huge undertaking. But it’s true that running a marathon is a challenge that requires commitment and perseverance. Every time I run a marathon, I step outside my comfort zone and accomplish something new. You grow stronger and become more confident”. 

“Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran” says Dean Karnazesis who is an American ultra marathon runner who has run 262 miles – the equivalent of ten marathons – without rest. He has written ‘Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner’. Dean is dubbed as one of the most unusual athletes of the modern age. His book covers his early life, the death of his sister on her 18th birthday and his initial failure to come to terms with it. It also narrates his rise through the corporate ranks and his subsequent ‘early mid-life crisis’ that drove him back to running. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, to the South Pole, and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. 

Whether you’re a world-class runner or a beginner running a marathon is undoubtedly a remarkable athletic achievement. If you are really serious about it get trained which is an essential and a long-term process. “Give yourself at least 3-6 months to gradually build your endurance, or longer if you’re not already in good running shape. Your body will need lots of fuel, so eat a high-carb, high-protein diet, and drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Above all, remain positive, have fun, and be proud of yourself for taking on this intense challenge” advises Tyler Courville who is a brand ambassador for Salomon Running. He has run in 10 ultra and mountain races across the United States and Nepal, and won the 2018 Crystal Mountain Marathon. So, lace up your shoes, and run.[/wp_paypal_payment]