MARATHON RUNNING has come to Asia. This bizarre Western craze has four fun stages:
1) You run.
2) You have a heart attack.
3) You die and you’re buried.
4) You get this really cool medal bearing the word “failed”.
Sounds fun, right? I thought so too.
Woohoo, gimmee a piece of that.
Next month, a marathon is to be held in North Korea. The rules are a bit different there. Runners who fail to finish will be processed into kimchee and fed to hungry people (the Dear Leader and his fat children).
Your humble narrator signed up to run a 21 kilometer race in Hong Kong.
“Not all of you will die of heart attacks,” the trainer told us. “Only the fat lazy ones who have done almost no training.”
I put up my hand and said: “Excuse me sir. That IS all of us.”
He looked us up and down and said: “Oh yeah, that’s right.”
He made us sign what looked like a disclaimer but was really a will giving him all our worldly goods. Evil scum.
On the morning of the race, I was interested to see that instead of a starting gun, they had a machine that made a very loud farting sound. Or it may just have been the guy standing next to me.
Either way, everyone started to move: it seemed the wise thing to do.
I flew along the streets.
My feet were a blur.
In fact, I can honestly say, the first part of the race was hugely enjoyable.
That euphoria lasted for quite a long distance, maybe 50 to 60 meters.
Then I got tired. “How much further is it to the end?” I asked the guy next to me.
He replied: “The end? We haven’t reached the starting line yet.”
Arrrggghhhhhh. That’s when I realized just how hard a marathon is.
I draw a veil over the misery that followed.
I dragging my aching bones along as far as I could.
Eventually, I ran completely out of breath.
At that point, I could see more than 1,000 runners in front me. SO depressing.
But at that moment, we reached a large U-turn sign. Huh?
We were channeled to the other side of the dual carriageway, facing the direction in which we’d come.
Yay! We were on the home stretch.
What I saw from that angle made my jaw drop. Yes, there were a thousand runners ahead of me—but there were many more thousands behind me, looking jealously in my direction.
I da man! My exhaustion vanished.
I picked up my feet.
I puffed out my chest.
I increased my speed.
That moment taught me that the ability to continue against the odds is not physical at all, but purely mental.
It also taught me that a man’s ego measures roughly 1,015 billion cubic kilometers, the size of Jupiter.
The organizer had thoughtfully supplied cheering fans.
At one corner was a girl clutching a single inflatable applause tool. What is the sound of one hand clapping? An embarrassed silence.
She stood glaring at us, a single horrifying thought filling her head: “Fifty thousand people are filing past me and every single one is thinking, Wow, is SHE dumb.”
I made it to the end without the promised heart attack. Maybe I’ll have better luck next time.