Marathon running to most of us is mystifying. Why anyone would put themselves through a 42.2-kilometre torture test is beyond comprehension.
Yet, runners will tell you about the challenge; some to test their abilities against worthy competitors; others just the simple pleasure of running.
There will be as many reasons at the starting line for the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon as there are runners – and we expect many.
Since the event’s humble beginnings 35 years ago when 700 participated in the first race, it has grown into one of Victoria’s premier events, drawing more than 11,000 runners this weekend.
The Victoria Marathon Society conducted an economic impact analysis to estimate the economic benefit of the 2010 event. The result was a $7.1-million impact over marathon weekend.
But there’s more to the marathon than can be justified in dollars. They are the promotion of health, fitness and a sense of community.
Over the years, the marathon (which actually consists of four races: marathon, half-marathon, 8K road race and kids’ run) has collectively raised millions for local charities from literacy initiatives to amateur sports. This year runners were given the opportunity to raise personal pledges for 22 charities.
It’s a laudable cause.
And runners deserve our applause for such noble efforts.
Most runners have spent weeks – if not months – preparing for this weekend’s races. That’s a lot of sweat and determination. But the biggest winners this weekend will not be the elite runners who come from far and wide.
Instead, our community wins with this kind of event, not only from an economic windfall, but on a societal level also.