Thursday, December 3, 2009

Re-Naming The Half Marathon

I have long thought that calling a 13.1 mile race a ‘half’ was a great disservice to the distance. This is mostly because I enjoy running half marathons and intend to run many more of them. The same cannot be said for the full marathon. I did not enjoy it, and I do not intend to run many more of them... that’s what I meant when I said that the same cannot be said for the full marathon. Why are you making me explain this twice?

This naming problem has been brought up by countless other bloggers. Nitmos complained about it in this post back when he wasn’t lazy and used to post regularly (“Hello Kettle, you’re black!”), but as you would expect from Nitmos he didn’t really provide any workable solutions. Typical. Kristina touched on the issue yesterday in her Op-Ed Wed piece which I highly recommend as it is a great read almost every Wednesday (the one time when it was not a great read was when Kristina took apart Reebok* for their EasyTone ads because it made me feel ashamed that I had posted the ads even though I ranted against them lightly disapproved. - Not cool Kristina! Not cool.) Kristina also did not offer any naming solutions, although to be fair her beef was with some idiot whose resolution was to rename the half marathon the ‘13.1 Marathon.’ That simply won’t do. If you did this you’d have to start calling 26.2 miles the Double Marathon and an Ultra Marathon would become a Double Ultra Marathon (which would appropriately be abbreviated as DUM).

I think we can all agree that you can’t call 13.1 miles a marathon, but I don’t like calling it a half marathon either. With that in mind I’d like to offer the following suggestions for races so that the 13.1 mile distance can finally get some much needed respect.
  • The 21k - This is my second favorite option.
  • The Double 10k - Theory: We overcompensate for having to use the word ‘half’ by sticking the word ‘double’ into the name of the race. Problem: Not an accurate representation of the actual distance, which leads me to my favorite option...
  • The Triple 7k - This is my favorite option, stop making me explain everything twice. There is some serious overcompensation going on here which is what I’m all about. (In fact, the reason that I drive a beat up, crappy vehicle is to overcompensate for my huge, enormous... you know... ego... in a manner of speaking.) Plus, everyone knows that triple 7s are lucky. You might run a bad ‘half marathon’ but you’d never have a bad day running a ‘Triple 7k.’
  • The Thirteeny - Yeah, that ‘teeny’ on the end isn’t helping.
  • The 69,168 footer
  • The 6,864 Acre Race - This sounds much more massive than ‘half marathon’ doesn’t it? If my calculations are correct (and they’re probably not) you would encompass an area of 6,864.4 acres if you ran a 13.1 mile square (i.e. 3.275 miles on each side of the square). Awesome!

I really think that if we all adopt one of these names for the 13.1 mile distance that we can get some race director somewhere to adopt our nomenclature and then I can totally take credit for it. Come on race directors, if your race was called the ‘P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Triple 7k’ it would make it sound like you were hosting two completely different races, and hey, guess what? They ARE two completely different races. Sure, the Triple 7k may often be run on a portion of the marathon course but it’s a different strategy and requires different training than the marathon. I’m not going to get into that here though because Kristina does a great job breaking down all the reasons why it’s a different animal in her post and I wasn’t smart enough to understand all of them.

Let me hear your suggestions in the comments.

*Actually, the Reebok post was fantastic, but I still don’t think people should make me feel ashamed of my chauvinistic tendencies.

32 comments:

  1. Wow, are you writing about something related to running? I'm just so distracted by all the references to this amazing blogger named Kristina. She sounds awesome.

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  2. This is fine unless you own the Triple Rock Brewery and you want to sponsor a 7k race and call it "The Triple 7k." Got some angry runners then, eh?

    Why don't we just take a hint from the non-runners? Call all races "marathons" and then we can be surprised when they end before 26.2 miles.

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  3. Dude. I established in February of 2008 that it is a trisko.

    http://coffeebetsy.blogspot.com/2008/02/half-some-respect.html

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  4. Interesting. I think I have Betsy beat by a few months: This was on CRN in Feb 08, reprinted from my newspaper column in November 07:

    http://completerunning.com/archives/2008/02/11/the-triska-deca-what/

    BTW, it never caught on. Obviously.

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  5. Wow, look at all the one-up-personship in the comments. Personally, I think you're a pioneer in all of this.

    Can you throw in a double secret probation just for good measure?

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  6. I vote for the 21K. Sounds impressive! Will start using it :)

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  7. i vote for the 13.1 marathon, since i love the implications of doubling up every race larger than the (insignificant) half (okay, okay, let's just say somewhat insignificant, haha). i would be that much more intrigued about attempting an ultra if it'd be called a double ultra marathon, or dum, because once it's called dum then i really must persist in completing the challenge. and once all the marathon plus distances would be called doubles, we'd see how it's really quite impossible to get away from the fact that a half is just a half, even as a 13.1 marathon, which wouldn't be a double like the others.

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  8. I only sort of remember those Reebok commercials, so I spent the last hour or so making sure that I fully remember them. If it is a shoe commercial, it can't be creepy.

    Hmm, I think you may be on to something with your triple 7s. But, you know that people would bitch about the 100 meters or so you're leaving off.

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  9. Too late. It's the half marathon. Deal with it.

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  10. I vote for sacking up and running a Goddam marathon if the "half" doesn't bolster your ego enough.

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  11. I have no input on this subject, as interesting as it may be...

    Whatever the name of this distance becomes, I certainly plan on running that far one day in an organized event.

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  12. I like the thirteen-and-then-some.

    And I agree with PP. If you are too embarassed about the "half marathon" title get out there and run yourself a whole one.

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  13. We have a small running group in Hanoi and we are having a 21K race next week! We aren't doing anything "half" we are running a full 21K! love it!

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  14. Horrible, horrible idea. If you push this through, then you'll probably change the name of your blog; get yourself a new vanity URL; and I will have to change my RSS Feed. What the hell is up with that?

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  15. yes, and up here in canada we simply call it 21K :)

    although, i must say i am still quite engaged in this conundrum you're having ...

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  16. "The Distance"

    That's a good name!

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  17. Timely post...I am running my very first half marathon this coming weekend. I am so nervous, but I will try to come up with a better name for it in the few hours I am doing it!

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  18. I just hate that people try to call it a "mini-marathon". Sooooo not the same thing.

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  19. I like the Triple 7's too. Sounds like a race you can't lose!!!

    I have a 13 mile training run Saturday. I'll think on that a little while I'm running it. Bet I come up with a few good ones...lol

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  20. I'm running my first half in the spring and I'm really tempted to start referring to it as a triple 7k, I'm with you on that one, sounds great. :)

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  21. I prefer to say half marathon and/or full marathon. I hate when "half mary" is used.

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  22. As a Canadian, I'm willing to support anything mentioning kilometres or using the metric system. In fact, it's probably the law.

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  23. Here in ultraland, we call it the kid's race or the warm-up.

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  24. 21k sounds like a really, really long distance...I like it!

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  25. You know, I've never had issues with calling it a Half-Marathon. I think there is such a strong association between Marathon and challenge/distance/endurance/etc. that dropping in the "Half" modifier doesn't disrespect the race or hardship involved.

    Conversely, I've always had an issue with Half Iron Man. A 70.3 mile tri is still an f*ing major achievement.

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  26. I'm planning a year-end post called "2009: The Year of Glaven." Spread the word.

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  27. How about "A-Training-Race-Done-Three-Months-Before-An-Actual-Marathon"?

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  28. This isn't anywhere near you but you should check out this event "For lack of anything better to do on the 27th, and because of the dearth of distance races in the Shenandoah Valley, we're throwing together an extremely low-key half-marathon (13.109 mile) race, along with a concurrent 13½K (8.389 mile) race for no particular reason. No fees, no awards, no wimps, no whiners, minimal support. " http://user.shentel.net/karsten/santa/

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  29. I don't have a big problem with the half marathon, but I like 21K best.

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