22 Januar 2009

Marathons should be banned

Als Bonus-Track, und um die lange Blogpause auszugleichen, blogge ich mal eine Rede, die ich bei Toastmasters gehalten habe. Sie ist der erste Teil einer Debatte - weil ich im Pub den Mund zu voll genommen hatte, musste ich zum Thema "Marathons should be banned" sprechen.

Thank you, Mr Toastmaster. Mr President, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests!

Marathons are all the rage. I have been to parties where I was more or less the only guest who did not consider running a marathon. In Germany, the number of people participating in marathons has grown from 10.000 to 100.000 in the last 20 years.

I think it is time to put an end to this.

Marathons should be banned because they are bad for individuals and bad for society. They are a dangerous addiction, so governments should protect their citizens by banning this senseless suffering.

I guess it could be said that marathons are good for your health, or that people need huge challenges to motivate themselves. I don't agree. I think any sport is good for you, but marathons should be left to hardcore athletes. Go swimming instead, ride a bike - that will be much better for your health and less harmful.

The same goes for challenges: In the time it takes to prepare for a marathon, you could do much more meaningful, and equally challenging, things. Become a Competent Communicator, attend an evening class, or read "Ulysses". You'll have all the challenge without putting your life at risk.

My first point - marathons are dangerous for individuals - should be straightforward. Pheidippides, the Greek soldier who ran 40 kilometers to announce the Greek victory at the battle of Marathon, died of exhaustion after he delivered his message.

How this story can encourage anybody to try to do the same is entirely beyond me. The fact is that the human body was not made for this kind of stress.

Who covers the medical damage when unfit marathonists ruin their health? The damage is paid by society through public hospitals and health insurance. Yet instead of appealing to reason and trying to make people switch to less dangerous sports, we willingly close off entire city centres several times a year so that the runners can have their ways.

So marathons are obviously bad for individuals and society, but why should we ban them? Because people need to be protected.

The constant media attention and peer pressure is pushing unfit people towards marathons, where they will inevitably over exert themselves. Marathons work like a drug. Once people become addicted, it is almost impossible to get them to quit. Weeks are wasted ruining people's health.

The initial example of Pheidippides proves that reason is the first thing that goes overboard in marathons. Why didn't he take a horse? Why didn't he run only half the way and then pass on his message to somebody else? My explanation is that ambition kicks in and prevents people from heading the warning signals.

We had sad proof for this last July in a run up the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. On the way up, it first started raining, then snowing. Security tried to stop runners and convince them to take cover, but most of them went on regardless. Two men died, 30 more had to be hospitalized.

Let's put an end to this madness. Marathons are bad for individuals, and they are bad for societies. Marathons should be banned.


Nicht viel neues; ich beschäftige mich fleißig mit meinem Studium und mache schon schöne Fortschritte. Wenn wir uns mal treffen, kann ich euch gern Interessantes aus der Welt der Informationssysteme erzählen. Übernächstes Wochenende will ich mal wieder ein Lesewochenende auf dem Land machen, und im Februar bin ich in London auf einem Study Weekend.

Ansonsten hab ich wahrscheinlich schon allen erzählt, dass mein jüngerer Bruder im Mai heiratet. Herzlichen Glückwunsch! Jetzt gibt's soagr eine Website dazu.