running facts crazy marathon race

From marathon runners fuelling with cocaine to running a marathon backwards, we look at some of the most crazy fun facts about running. 

1. Runners used to drink champagne as an energy drink

It may seem crazy and dangerous to runners today, but back in Victorian times it was thought that alcohol was a performance enhancer. It is thought that this tradition dates all the way back to Ancient Greece and China. Incredibly, they would also take drugs such as heroin and cocaine to enhance their performance, something that is unthinkable today. 

We now know that alcohol is a diuretic and can cause dehydration, meaning it is the complete opposite of what you'd want while running an endurance race, especially in hot weather. 

champagne running fuel nutrition hydration Imagine getting to the aid station during a race and being presented with this!

2. The World Record for running a half marathon backwards is 1 hour 40 minutes

Think your half marathon PB is good? Could you do it backwards? German Achim Aretz set the World Record for fastest half marathon running backwards in 2009 in Essen, Germany. 

running backwards

3. Oprah Winfrey ran a marathon in 4 hours 29 minutes

Oprah Winfrey is best known as a generous philanthropist and TV show host, but in 1994 she ran the Washington D.C. Marine Corps marathon in a very respectable time of 4 hours and 29 minutes

Over the course of her training, she lost over 70lbs in body weight and slimmed down to an athletic frame of 150lbs (68kg). Other notable celebrities to have completed a marathon include former US President George W Bush in a time of 3:44:52 and Bryan Cranston (better known to some as Hal from Malcolm in the Middle and Walter White in Breaking Bad) in a time of 3:20:45. 

Oprah Winfrey marathon running Sundried fun facts

4. You can run a marathon in the desert, at the North Pole, or even around Mount Everest

Man's insatiable desire to forever beat yesterday and achieve more than ever before has meant that running races are getting tougher and tougher every year. It's no longer impressive to say you've run a marathon. These days, it's notable to have run an extreme marathon. 

The Marathon Des Sables is a 150-mile ultra marathon in the Sahara desert and is one of the most popular and desirable running races in the world. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mount Everest marathon starts at Everest Base Camp and runs to Namche Bazaar. Conditions can be very challenging, especially due to the altitude, and runners are required to spend at least 3 weeks in Nepal before taking part so that they can acclimatise first. 

marathon des sables running race

5. The winner of the 1904 Olympic marathon completed most of the course in a car

The third edition of the modern Olympic games took place in 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. It was the first time the Olympics had taken place outside of Europe and only 12 countries participated. 

The marathon event went down in history as a complete disaster, as sweltering heat and dusty tracks meant many of the competitors had to pull out. One such competitor who suffered from the conditions was Frederick Lorz. He pulled out after 14.5km (9 miles) and got his coach to drive him the rest of the way in a car. However, the car broke down and Lorz walked back into the stadium on foot.

As he entered the stadium, the crowd cheered him as the first finisher and he was crowned the winner. He played along until it was later found that someone else was the true winner. 

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