The Far Side

The term Marathon originates from the legend of an Athenian messenger named Pheidippides, who ran 25 miles home to deliver news of a great victory in the battle of Marathon, then dropped dead from exhaustion. What a wuss. For today's extreme-endurance athletes, Pheidippides' fatal exertion would be a gentle warm-up. The real challenge is found in ultramarathonsóraces of up to 100 km (62 miles) or even farther, often over the kind of rough terrain that would make the average jogger hang up his sneakers in horror. Ultrarunners endure cramps, blisters, dehydration and the occasional exhaustion-induced hallucination. Why? All for the pleasure...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!