That First Marathon

The first marathon is as memorable as your first kiss, the first time you drive or the first time you get served in a bar as a minor. Chances are I ran my first marathon before most people who read this were born. It was the 1981 Philadelphia Independence Marathon and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Is my 1981 Philadelphia Marathon certificate older than you?

The Philly Marathon was a point-to-point in 1981, from Fort Washington, PA to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I recall suffering the final miles, hobbling down Ninth Street through the Italian Market, and then being revived when I heard the crowd on Chestnut Street. It was twenty years before I ran my second marathon. Ten more would follow.

The memory resurfaced today when a close friend of my daughter’s (I’ll call her TE) crossed the finish line in the Philadelphia Marathon, her first. This was an especially sweet victory for her because she’d trained religiously for months and then sustained a serious thigh injury with only weeks remaining before race day. TE was faced with a choice between abandoning the marathon she trained so hard to run, or get as healthy as time would permit and put her body to the test. She chose the latter and now has a memory for life.

So TE completed her first marathon today and inspired everyone, including me. I’d forgotten I told her that I’d run another marathon next year if she decided to run today. I’d like to claim I was under the influence when I said it, but I wasn’t, so it looks like I’ll be returning to the circuit to run my thirteenth next year. I suppose if I’m going to come out of retirement, I should do it for a lucky number.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
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