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Messy Marathon

My friend Eric used to be on the news every night on the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis. Just before the Sports segment came on, the news would play this quick little montage of local sports events, and Eric would be shown crossing the finish line in the Twin Cities Marathon. Every single night.

His wife, Chris, thought that it had more to do with Eric's appearence - blond, blue-eyed, Scandanavian - than what a great athlete he was. The actual winner of that race was Kenyan, as were the second and third place winners. Eric, I remember, ran about three hours and three minutes, which is really great, but far out of the money for one of these deals. Like about forty-five minutes. So, you can see why he would be a suspicious choice to show on the clip reel for athletic excellence if that's all you were going on.

I was a spectator at that race, standing at the sidelines along with other of Eric's friends and was watching as the actual front runners crossed and I happened to notice that the fifth place winner had poohed herself. On the back of her legs there was this greenish-brown explosion of pooh that ran from the back of her running shorts down to her sneakers. The announcer at this event, who was also doing the televised play by play, accurately reported that this woman had finished fifth overall for women and first in her age, but he didn't report the one most important fact, which was that she'd crapped on herself. I thought he was a horrible announcer.

How could you ommit the most impressive part of this woman's victory? She was so dedicated to winning that she bypassed the many port-o-pot ties along the route so that she could finish in the money. In her case that was five grand.

It made me wonder. How much money would you have to pay me to take a dump in my shorts and run for miles and miles at my top speed in front of hundreds of thousands of people viewing me live and then millions more people watching on TV? Not five thousand, that's for sure. It would have to be a lot more than that, I can tell you. And this woman did it not for a sure five thousand but just the chance that she might win something. You know, even if you assured me that I could guarantee world peace for all time and humanity would be happy thereafter, I wouldn't do it. I guess I'm too selfish.

In my prime I used to do a bit of running (still do. But I'm not in my prime). I used to enter three or four ten K's in the Twin Cities per year. The big joke for my friends the day after one of my races would be to ask: "Did you win?" That alone would cause great mirth in and of itself and I wouldn't even have to answer. Well, no, as a matter of a fact, I never did win any of those races. I was usually exactly in the middle of the placings. When my age was factored in I placed considerably better. Anyways, I would occasionally read Runner's World and came across an account of a woman racer who had done precisely what that other woman had done. She'd lost bowel control during a race and persevered, and in the article she was very detailed about how it felt - very detailed.

Ewwww! It was far too much information. This was long before I saw it first hand at Eric's race, but until then I hadn't known that runners did this sort of icky thing. I guess I'd thought that if you needed to go during a race, you found a gas station restroom, or something. That's what I would do.

For non-runners, I know, the question is why anyone runs at all. It's really one of those things that you have to experience to understand, but I believe the answer is that it's one thing humans were designed to do. (intelligently. ByJehovah. In one day). I've read that being able to run for long distances was an advantage for human hunters, who would outlast their prey that could run fast for short distances, but couldn't outlast people in the long haul. For me, there is a sort of 'runner's high', which isn't all that high anymore and definitely not the same as being high 'high', if you know what I mean. (Drugs are bad. Don't use drugs). And there's a bit of back to nature, since I usually contrive to run somewhere where the scenery is pretty.

Lastly, it affords me the opportunity to eat like a hog- not entirely anymore - and not have to pay all the consequences that I normally would. If I had never run a single step in my life, I truly believe that I would weigh four hundred pounds right now. Never mind what I actually weigh; It's not four hundred.

About the Author: Steve Sommers new book, Evil Super-Villains Need Love, Too ... and other important wisdom, is available at
His novel, REXROI, is available at

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