The Not-Quite-News on Marathons This Week: The Half-Marathon that Wasn’t, Santa Claus Ditches the Sleigh, and Running in Space

bangkok marathon
Bangkok Marathon

We have three stories today on the marathon.

First we take you to Bangkok, Thailand, my residence from 1994-2004, where Standard Chartered Bank hosted the annual Bangkok Marathon on November 15. As a part of the day’s event, a half marathon is held. Now for most of the world, half of the 42 kilometer marathon should come to 21 kilometers. And yet, as runners approached their expected times for 21 kilometers, they were surprised to see how far they were from the finish line, and disappointed at how slow their times were. As it turned out, the organizers had extended the length of the course a bit…if 7 extra kilometers is a bit….due to incorrectly informing runners where to make their u-turn. Unlike Singapore Math, Thailand Math won’t be coming to a neighborhood near you any time soon.

Brian Land_Santa at the Philadelphia Marathon
Brian Land had previously run a 1:20 half marathon in the Santa suit. Photograph by Island Photography

Next we take you the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, my residence from 1981-1985, where a Guinness World Record was broken at the Philadelphia Marathon on November22. Brian Land, 29, a miler who raced at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, decided to run the Philly Marathon….in a Santa Claus suit. Having run a marathon in 2 hours and 31 minutes, he was seeking to break the record of faux Santa Claus, Paul Simons, who set the then record at the 2009 London Marathon with a time of just under 2 hours and 56 minutes. Training in full Santa regalia at Planet Fitness in early November, and running a half-marathon in the suit, Land was confident. So when Santa Claus came to town for the marathon, he did so in the record time of 2 hours, 54 minutes and 2 seconds.

Tim Peake_astronaut marathoner
Astronaut Tim Peake

And finally, we take you to outer space, overlooking the planet earth, my home planet since 1963, where British astronaut, Tim Peake, plans to run the London Marathon on April 24, 2016. Yes, he’ll technically be in space on the International Space Station, and yes, he’ll be running on a treadmill alone while the other 37,000 run the roads of London. Peake will be tethered to the treadmill so he won’t float away, and will watch a video of the London course as he runs. Apparently, Peake isn’t the first to do so. NASA astronaut, Sunita Williams, also ran a marathon in space in 1997 racing in synch with the Boston Marathon that year. And yet, Peake’s goal is amazing. As he quipped, The London Marathon is a worldwide event. Let’s take it out of this world.”