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I’m a runner! I love to run!

Some might say I’m addicted to it, and especially to that runner’s high you’ve heard so much about. If you’ve tried it, you know of what I speak. You know there's nothing to get the blood pumping quite like a light run. Or, if you're a masochist, you know there's nothing that will chew you up and spit you out quite like a marathon, which is something I must admit I have yet to attempt. Though I really want to run one, I still think marathons are pretty ominous. After all, how many sporting events can you think of in which the first one in history ever, ended with a competitor dying? The Athenians didn’t learn their lesson either, because in 1896 at the first modern Olympics  including a marathon, a man named Spyridon Louis left the rest of the field in the dust.

But enough with history, I say! What about marathons today? Well, I can tell you this..... I’m already dreading the relatively short half-marathon that I have scheduled for the spring of 2016. But I’ve discovered that long runs don't have to be completely horrible. Just take a look at The Oatmeal’s fantastic comic strip on running and you'll see a long-distance run can also be, well, entertaining ... if not a complete side splitter. Or consider Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, an easy, almost-zen-like book about the not-so-easy and painful-like-seppuku feat known as long-distance running.

Or, if instead of plopping down on that old you-shaped couch with a good book, you’d rather crouch down and tie up the old laces, and then test out one or more of the plenty of opportunities to run out there! After all, why not pretend you’ve lost your damn mind and get a full dose of entertainment in the process. Take for instance our roundup of wacky, worthy, and crazy long-distance runs. If you want to take part in a bigger name marathon (like Boston or New York), you’ll need to compete in a lesser one to qualify. So whether you’re just a beginner, or have been at it for a long time, just strap on those shoes and get running!

Space Coast Marathon
Star Trek tells us that space is the final frontier. And while most of us will only dream of rocketing off this planet, if you want to learn to appreciate the magic of oxygen as much as an astronaut, there’s no better runner-up to going into outer space than running a marathon. This month, on November 29, 2015, runners will compete in the Space Coast Marathon.


The run is “Florida’s Oldest Marathon” and bills itself as “one of the most beautiful USATF certified waterfront courses on the east coast of Florida.” It’s also a celebration of America’s accomplishments in space, and our God-given right to dress up like astronauts in the hot Florida sun. One of the coolest parts of the race is at the beginning when you’re getting ready to dash off. “Start your race,” the website states, “to the roar of a Space Shuttle countdown, and the liftoff on the Jumbotron.” The website also has photos from previous years’ races, including one of an astronaut (I hope he’s not attempting a full marathon in that suit) and a slimmed down Darth Vader. What could be cooler than a NASA-themed long-distance run in which Star Wars fanatics compete to see which side will win, the Light Side or the Dark?

Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side
Well, I’m glad you asked. Speaking of space-themed long-distance runs, this is one coming to us from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...” In April, I will be participating with my lovely family in Disney World’s inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon - Dark Side. This event allows you to choose between the Light Side and the Dark Side of the Force, and those with the fastest times will contribute higher scores to their respective teams. Of course, you don’t need to worry; while you’re liveing out that lifelong fantasy of running while dressed as Boba Fett, a powerful Sith Lord won’t really be Force-choking you. Nor will storm troopers really be shooting their blaster rifles at you, set to stun!) But the theme park, known for always being over-the-top (as Banksey has so brilliantly satirized), will certainly have tons of costumed nerds, both competing in the race and cheering on the runners, and my family and I will be just a few of those nerds. FYI, the Disney World run is just a spin-off of Disneyland’s, but unfortunately this sister run out in California is already sold out! Bit, in case you have tons of $100 bills in your pockets, or influence on Walt Disney’s Ghost, you should know that the Disney World event is April 17, 2016.

Star Wars

Star Wars 

Gettysburg North-South Marathon 

North South MarathonSpeaking of the Light Side versus the Dark Side, why not wander up North to Pennsylvania later that same month and ignite a North-South conflict in your own body? (Brain: “You can do it! Keep it up! Let’s go! Let’s go!” Legs: “I. Hate. You. Brain.”) The Gettysburg North South Marathon has runners dashing across scenic fields that once played host to the bloodiest conflict ever to take place on American soil. As with the Star Wars race, if not as light-hearted, runners can choose a side, either North or South! According to the website, you determine which side you want to be on simply by where you’re from. Or where your ancestors lived during the War. Or by using whatever criteria you choose. This race takes place April 24, 2016

St. Jude Rock 'n' Roll Nashville Marathon
Tennessee is famous for a lot of things, but one of the state’s greatest claims to fame is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. The famous marathon, which takes place in Nashville, TN each year, used to be called the St. Jude Country Music Marathon. It now bills itself as a Rock ‘n’ Roll event, which only helps to highlight Nashville’s burgeoning diversity, both musically and ethnically.

“The rock and roll genre roots itself in a spectrum of music styles,” a local writer observes on the website, “including bluegrass, jazz, folk, soul and of course, country.” This marathon is a truly unique experience. First of all and most notably, the proceeds benefit the St. Jude hospital and research facility, and secondly, as runners progress through the course, they are serenaded by a bunch of different (and usually famous) bands. According to the website, these bands will be playing “a variety of music from alternative, classic and punk rock to blues, jazz and soul along the race course.” So if you aren’t much of a runner, you could instead apply to play with your band along the way! (Check the website periodically for updates on how your band can rock out for a good cause). The headlining band who is honored each year by performing at the end of the race has yet to be announced, but who ever it is, it’s sure to be a big one. The race will be April 30, 2016.
Rock and Roll Marathon

Boogie Marathon
I had to include this event in North Carolina because of how insane it sounds! And I don’t know how to describe it in words more specific, or you might say scary, than how their official warning spells it out-  so I’ll just post part of it here. “This is not your normal marathon. This is all rural, not a city marathon. The course is not certified. You will be in the middle of nowhere all the time with no porta-potties, no splits, no mile markers, no spectators, and late in the run possibly even no other runners. There are only 6 houses on the course and they have dogs. Aid stops are over 5 miles apart, so you will need to carry a water bottle. If you decide to quit, there are no pick-up vans, so you will either have to walk to the aid station or hitch a ride with somebody. The race will start at 6 pm and the temperature will probably be about 85 degrees, with little shade. Darkness comes about 9 pm and there are no street lights.”
boogie marathon

Woah. Intense stuff. The warning ends with the admonishment, “If you're not ready to step up and be responsible for yourself all the way, stay away. Find an easier event.”

They also make ominous mention of a waiver, of which I was unable to find a copy of. So, I wondered, what exactly does the waiver warn against? According to another website, some of the dangers include: “rattlesnakes, copperheads, polecats, wildcats, and rednecks who like to drink and drive and throw things.” Sounds like fun, among other things! The race will be June 11, 2016.

Make It By Midnight

marathonI’m not even sure if this race is being held anymore, but I had to mention it because the idea is genius. Basically, the run ends at midnight, and so you take your estimated time and subtract it from 12am, and that’s the exact time that you start the race. The goal is to beat your own “best” time, ending well before midnight, if possible. Again, there’s no telling when this run will be held again, but it’s such a good idea, that we had to mention it. It seems like the last time it was held was back in 2013, but it was cancelled in 2014. There are promises on its website that it will return in 2015 (with registration opening in January or February), but here it is November and there’s no mention of a 2015 run anywhere on the site. Maybe we should just start a spin-off of our own. We could call it the Dish Mag Mad Dash to Midnight! So what do ‘ya think?

There are so many other marathons out there, and I wish I had more space and time to elaborate on all the ways you can have fun while torturing yourself at five to eight miles an hour. I did most of my research at the site listed above (, which is a great springboard for finding the marathon that’s right for you. Have a fun blast and run fast! (But not too fast... because you want your knees to be healthy enough to run the next marathon ... and the next ... and the next .... just like the addiction running inevitably becomes......and ENJOY!)

Let us know your favorite marathon or other long-distance run (5k, 10k, half-marathon, ultramarathon, etc.) or any other new-fangled racing concept or idea, by emailing us at If we like it as well, we’ll be more than glad to spread the word!

Do any of these marathons have actual stars coming to them? Star Wars? Like a Comic Con meets fitness? / Issue 175 - September 4567
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