Mad About the Marathon

In the early 20th century, the marathon race was over two thousand years old but it was just starting to catch the attention of athletes and sporting fans all over the world. The event was revived in 1896 as part of the very first modern Olympics and it didn’t take long for the long-distance running event to become incredibly popular. Today, hundreds of thousands of people run marathons and long distances every year, often to get fit and stay healthy.


The 1910 Baltimore Marathon featured more than seventy runners. Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun

But the new marathon craze did have its detractors, including a Dr. John H. Girdner. According to the good doctor, long distance running was a dangerous killer that wrecked the bodies and minds of young people both in training and competition. “Its victims,” he wrote of the marathon in a 1909 article, “will work irreparable injury to their own health.” Does it seem a little strange that a doctor was so opposed to what is now considered a popular and healthy activity? I think this calls for some historical investigation! Continue reading