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“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” Sadly, not my words, but those of legendary Czech runner and famously tough cookie Emil Zátopek. You could be forgiven for thinking that the rise of ultramarathons and ‘extreme’ multi-day challenges has dented the popularity of the original 26.2-mile test of endurance, but the marathon is no less magical today than it was when Charilaos Vasilakos won the first ever race over the distance at the 1896 Athens Olympics – just ask any one of the 40,382 runners who took part in last year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. The magic remains. So, too, does the challenge.

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May 2018
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