Runners have uncanny body awareness. We can tell if our IT band feels ever so slightly off the mark, we describe everyday aches and pains to the minutest detail and we routinely discuss optimal methods for body glide application.
So it seems inevitable that marathon posters should reflect this obsession. A majority of hand-made race signs have something or other to do with the oddity of pushing the human body to the brink of endurance. Some just fixate on the body itself.
Not every sentiment is dignified.
2005 New York City Marathon | Photo by sabrebelle courtesy of Flickr.
In case you didnâ€™t already know, ATP refers to adenosine triphosphate, the â€œuniversal energy currency for metabolism.â€ Basically, ATP stores energy so that you can do stuff. I had to look it up.
This sign would appeal to the relatively few molecular biochemist marathoners who would instantly recognize the acronym and draw great inspiration from this highly energetic, essential molecule.
2008 San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon | Photo by tned_99 courtesy of Flickr.
Any male who has experienced the dreaded bloody nipple phenomenon would never accept this offer. The last thing I want after a marathon is excessive nipple stimulation.
But perhaps Iâ€™m missing the point. The real question here might be â€œjust who massages whom?â€
Shamed Into Achievement
2007 Twin Cities Marathon | Photo by Pookareena courtesy of Flickr.
You havenâ€™t lived until youâ€™ve been passed at mile 21 by someone who doesnâ€™t appear to be in tip-top shape. You stare incredulously and helplessly as they drag their stout frame past your unworthy carcass.
This Clydesdale probably didnâ€™t run quickly enough for this. He may have finished his marathon in a sedate six hours. We donâ€™t know. He may be one of those annoying folk who looks like theyâ€™ve enjoyed one Dennyâ€™s Grand Slamwich too many, yet is a perennial Boston qualifier.
What can I say? Lifeâ€™s not fair.
Inevitable Excretory Humor
2008 Grandma’s Marathon | Photo by Sjixxxy courtesy of Flickr.
Every race features at least one urination or defecation poster. Usually runners are encouraged to press on regardless of need or consequences. If George Lucas frequented marathons, heâ€™d hold aloft a sign like this. Iâ€™m sure of it. Nothing amuses the masses like poop.
But this girlâ€™s sign is a bit different, and quite plausible. She wants to know if her father has lost control of his bodily functions. Perhaps dad sweats profusely and she canâ€™t tell the difference.
2008 Boston Marathon | Photo by Jake T courtesy of Flickr.
Translation: You are about to attempt something that could cost you one or more toenails. But donâ€™t turn back, because losing them would be COOL.
Incidentally, letâ€™s not forget the raw entertainment value of the marathonerâ€™s toenails. Next time youâ€™re about to lose one, show your kids. Describe the injury with your best Bear Grylls accent while pivoting the dangling flap like a curiously squeaky hinge. Add sound effects at just the right moment, and your tweenage daughter will run from the room screaming.
Rather Personal Encouragement
2006 Chicago Marathon | Photo by Andy Marfia courtesy of Flickr.
This guy is either:
a) A brash, young rogue who plays by his own rules.
b) Providing an indecently awkward romantic overture that may not be received well.
c) Actually cheering for a man.
To be continued…
Stay tuned for the next series of marathon posters!