Mainly Marathons

On August 21, 2012 · 6 Comments

I always have some kind of weird geography-related scheme bubbling in the back of my mind. I’m constantly on the search for creative ideas for new places to visit. I have one brewing at the moment — don’t know if it will actually happen — although the potential is there and I’m considering the logistics. All I have to do is to express over-and-over that it would be a simply grand idea to run five marathons in five days.

I’m not going to run it. No, I don’t want to even drive 26.2 miles much less run that distance. Five days in a row. In five different states. That’s right, I said in five different states. Someone else would do the running (and would likely select the half-marathon option so it wouldn’t be quite so onerous). I’d be sitting along the route cheering and providing words of encouragement.

Check this out: the Dust Bowl Marathon Series being offered by Mainly Marathons from Monday March 18 through Friday March 22, 2013. It’s designed to help people who are attempting to run a marathon in all 50 states so they can ratchet-up their totals super-quickly.

The organization takes advantage of a geographic quirk I’ve discussed previously with roots tracing back to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. That agreement established a line of latitude, 36°30′ North to separate future slave states from future free states as the U.S. expanded rapidly west of the Mississippi River.

View Larger Map
Oklahoma Panhandle — Mind the Gap!

Texas split from Mexico to form the sovereign Republic of Texas during this same general timeframe, and in 1845 gained admission to the United States. Texas had to adhere to the Missouri Compromise line and cede all of its territory north of the boundary to the Federal government in order to enter the U.S. as a slave state. This border was reaffirmed by the Compromise of 1850. The southern boundaries of Kansas and Colorado where drawn along 37° North, leaving a gap between their borders and the northern tip of Texas. They called the strip "No Man’s Land" and in 1889 it became the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Thus, a dispute over slavery nearly two hundred years ago created a situation where five states came together in unusually close geographic proximity, and made the Dust Bowl Marathon Series a feasible endeavor.

This is the Dust Bowl Marathon sequence:

View Larger Map

  • March 18 – Dalhart, TX
  • March 19 – Guymon, OK
  • March 20 – Ulysses, KS
  • March 21 – Lamar, CO
  • March 22 – Clayton, NM

As Mainly Marathon explains, "They rarely win, but you always see them out there running, and running and running. And sometimes walking. These events were inspired by and designed for them, and for those who just want to run long and often… Time limit: None, no runner left behind. Walkers welcome!… Awards will be given to those who come in last."

I find the last place award enticing although not quite enough to run. Or walk. I’ll provide moral support instead. We all contribute in our own ways as we are able.

I’m practically salivating at an opportunity to collect a whole new batch of counties in a particularly empty quadrant on my county counting map. True, this is one of my crazier schemes so wish me luck and maybe, just maybe I’ll be there to help provide motivation to someone who may be brave enough to attempt it. And for the record, I did not find this website and plant a suggestion. The prospective runner brought the possibility up to me!

There is an odd nexus between runners and geo-geeks. I’ve mentioned it before. There are plenty of running groups that focus either specifically on capturing all 50 states or various subgroupings as part of different achievement levels and mileages. It’s not that unusual in the running world, for example:

This could happen. If it does, is anyone interested in creating a Team 12MC? I’ll serve as the water boy or equipment manager or something. I’d probably also include side-trips to the Oklahoma and Kansas highpoints.

On August 21, 2012 · 6 Comments

6 Responses to “Mainly Marathons”

  1. Mr Burns says:

    One advantage to running marathons in that part of the world: No big hills!

    Oh, and if you go, be sure to pronounce Ulysses as “You-liss-us”, never as “You-liss-eez”. The latter pronunciation peeves the locals.

  2. Bill Harris says:

    I misread your map as being a single marathon through five states. Obviously that isn’t the case here, but how about a single marathon that runs through four states? The Four Corners is one obvious place. You can also run such a marathon through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New jersey:

    Can anyone thing of any other such marathons?

  3. Ariel Dybner says:

    Since you are focused on that part of the country, one thing I’ve never seen explained is why the Oklahoma-New Mexico border is located approximately two miles east of the Texas-New Mexico border. Do your incredibly knowledgeable readers know the answer? I don’t.

  4. David says:

    I’m in for a 2014 series. I’ve got an ironman at the end of the summer and think that 5 days, 5 maratha (my new word) might hamper training for a while afterward…
    That said, let’s drive from DC (I live here too, sorry I missed the happy hour last summer) and you can get some of the I-40 stretch of the country!

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