Run a marathon around a single city block. Really? Yeah. It’s silly. It was boring. It was really silly. It was extremely boring. But I did it.

It all started in 2007 when I ran the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama. The race was my brother’s first marathon and after the race he and his friends cleaned up and departed for the long drive back to Indiana. I mixed and mingled with the marathon crowd and eventually stumbled into a tall, lanky, long haired guy who offered me a beer. He introduced himself as Tom Possert and invited me to hang out with some of the other marathon finishers. We spent the rest of the day grabbing beers out of a hotel bathtub and sharing stories. Tom invited everyone to join him on a trail run early the next day before we all left town. It was only my sixth marathon and I was not yet in good enough running shape to go out and run again the day after a race, so I declined. As we all parted ways one story stuck with me. Tom told us about how he had done a 1,000 mile race around a single mile loop in New York City…my goal to run a marathon around a city block was born (1,000 miles seemed a little crazy…).

I’ve since learned about various races around tracks, city blocks, or one mile loops. Running track in high school instilled in me the realization that running in circles sucks, but for some reason running a marathon around a city bock still intrigued me.

I kicked around the idea of an underground marathon, just me and anyone else foolish enough to join. I thought about my friends, I figured that I knew at least a few other people crazy enough to take it on. The idea was always in the back of my head, but that’s where it stayed.

That is, until this spring. My training schedule for the Burning River 100 mile race included several 26 mile training runs. Well…perfect! One inconspicuous Sunday I needed to run 26 miles. I hadn’t gone too hard at the bars the night before, I had oatmeal for breakfast, and I had nothing going on for the next 5 hours. What the heck. I decided to try it.

Running A Marathon Around A City Block

Before leaving home I downloaded an audio book on my phone, filled a drop bag, and headed to the park next to my brother’s apartment. I found a branch of a tree to hang my drop bag from so no squirrels, ravens, or homeless people would pilfer from it during my laps. I stood at the corner, reset my watch, and BANG! An old beater truck lurched forward at the stop sign, backfired, and I was off!

Marathon Around A City Block - Chris Tarzan ClemensLess than .0875 miles later I was turning right. Then, just .0875 miles later I was turning right again. This was going to be a NASCAR-ish course on a .35 mile loop that would eventually, in 75 laps, get me to 26.2 miles and back to the apartment for a cold beer. It was around 9:00 AM and the park was quiet. Several groups were setting up grills and chairs for a party later in the day. They looked at me odd when I passed by the second time. Even more the third, fourth, and fifth laps. Eventually they got used to me, or gave up on me altogether and considered me an insane human being.

I continued running in circles (boring) and passing the same people over and over (boring) and encountering the same slight hills, cracks in the pavement, and cars parked along the road (boring). The loops droned on as I listened to the audio book about spelunking in super caves and I took solace in the fact that I was running around a city block rather than climbing several miles down into the dark damp super caves of the world.

The loops, miles, and hours passed slowly and I kept running. My drop bag was hanging just a few steps off the sidewalk and I grabbed snacks when needed. The public restroom in the middle of the park served for bathroom breaks and water refills. Before I knew it I was 3 hours in and had just about an hour left in my run.

The last hour was boring. Well, I mean if the first 3 hours were boring the last hour was BORING. Period. The only saving grace was that in the last 20 minutes of my loops two girls spread out their beach towels just inside the park perimeter and laid out in their bikinis to sunbath. At least for the last 9 laps I had something to look forward to every few minutes!

Eventually I came around a right turn, checked my GPS, and holy cow…it was done! I stopped the watch at 4 hour and 15 minutes, grabbed my drop bag, walked across a road (finally), and jogged back to the apartment for a celebratory beer.

Sure, it wasn’t the finish line of a Rock’N’Roll Marathon with medals, a beer tent, and live music…but dang, I just ran a marathon around a single city block! It also wasn’t 1,000 miles, but I figured 26.2 was more than enough (this time).

What did I learn? I’m never doing that alone again (I’ve also learned to never say never). But seriously, I think it would be a lot more fun if friends were involved…as well as an aid station with possible shots of Fireball.

Marathon around a city block:  http://www.strava.com/activities/140054855

Marathon around the block Strava - Chris Tarzan Clemens

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