The Right Coast
July 19, 2004
By Tom Smith
This is interesting: Astronomers recalculate the date of the original marathon run.
It seems perfectly plausible to me that the run was in August rather than September, but then I know nothing about ancient Greek calenders. But even if it had occured in the mid-80's temperatures of September, rather than the low 100's of August, Phidippides (sp?) could still have run himself to death. His internal body temperature would have been a function of the outside temperature and the amount of work he was doing. To die in the '80's just means you have to run faster. I suppose you have to say he did his job perfectly. Had he run any faster, he probably would have died before he reached Athens; slower, and Athens would have had less time to prepare for Salamis (also sp?).
Heat exhaustion really sucks. Our high football coach back in Boise was a sadistic meathead who ran us to death in August two a day practices, and then literally made us beg for water. He would stand in the middle of a big scrum of desperate players, holding the jug of water over his head, and then pour it out to the ground. We would have to jump up, like dogs with our mouths open, trying to get a mouthful of water before it hit the ground. He was a sick man, and I still hate his guts. (We all have our issues.) It's a miracle no one collasped and died, but then it was a Catholic school. He eventually got fired, but not for abusing players. I quit after my sophomore year, and took amazing amounts of abuse from my peers for it. The thing that makes me maddest is that it was lousy training. You don't get any stronger from that sort of nonsense. From talking to a former trainer of mine who was a defensive back in San Diego State's very serious football program, I know that high level football now incorporates pretty enlightened training principles. But as usual, I digress.