A World Gone Mad for Marathons is a book about the incredible growth of organized marathons around the world as well as the growth of many other sporting events (i.e. ultras, trail races, triathlons, IRONMANs, duathlons, cycling races, 10Ks, and 5Ks). This growth is occurring irrespective of gender, age, body shape or size, ethnicity, culture, or country. For numerous reasons, millions of people around the world are signing up for sporting events and saying ‘Go.’
In the past 10 years, the number of marathons worldwide has tripled (from around 2,000 in 2009 to an anticipated 6,000 by the end of 2019). The world’s most famous marathons (e.g. New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Chicago, etc…) have resorted to lotteries to allow runners in. One of the newest countries on the high speed marathon train is China. In just the past few years, cities with absolutely no history or experience in hosting marathons are doing so and tens of thousands of runners sign up within the first few hours. The IRONMAN in Vietnam recently held its fifth race and it sold out rapidly. A 5K Color Me Run in Ho Chi Minh City (the former Saigon) had over 13,000 runners in May 2018.
The ‘why is this happening’ question is one of the themes of this book. Some additional questions are ‘who are these athletes’ and ‘how do race directors pull it off?’ Through its 10 chapters, the book looks at the primary drivers of this trend such as community, overcoming adversity, responding to stress and depression, and other causes. Each chapter profiles an athlete who shares his or her story on why they are so driven to just keep running and competing. The author also shares his own humorous efforts to complete a marathon. In fact, it was one of his own.
The author, Sam Korsmoe, is a Montana race director who, over the past 12 years, has built an eight-race series in the Yellowstone region of Montana. The keystone race of the series is the Madison Marathon which is a road marathon with an average elevation of over 9,000 feet. Korsmoe is exporting part of the Yellowstone series abroad. In a witty and personal voice, he sheds light on ‘the why’ of this trend and offers readers a race director’s insight and point of view of the athletes who do these events. This is not a ‘how to run’ a marathon book, but more of a ‘why I should also do one’ that is sure to inspire couch potatoes and aging athletes that they too can be part of this global phenomenon.