Most of us are just average human beings when it comes to competitions. We are perfectly pleased to chug along through life looking left and right before we cross the street, without the additional stresses of being the best.

Why do some set themselves up for brutal contests to see who is the best in the first place?

No one cares about second place. While the winner of the Boston Marathon is all over the news — we never really hear who comes in second.

The truth is that the second-place finisher worked just as hard, ran only fractions of a second behind and trained like crazy too! But, not quite crazy enough to be the best. ARRGGGH.

The Duluth News Tribune feasts on the 43rd Grandma’s Marathon by publishing three broadsheet sections of results in one marathon editorial finish on June 23. Does that make them the best? I am thinking that it makes the staff really tired, far more tired than others. I wonder if there’s a laurel wreath for those poor folks? Especially the proofreader for the many pages of eight-point type naming every finisher?

Of interest to a woman of my genteel maturity? The oldest runner? It was an 81-year old man.

It’s a very popular annual marathon and a race where 6,599 started and 6,288 finished.

What is it about our human nature that drives us to be the best? We must be the absolute best. We keep meticulous records tracking our times, our distances, our abilities that seem beyond human.

Why do we care?

The Boston Marathon has spawned marathon races all over the world. But, that’s not good enough — now there’s the triathlon which calls participants to be the fastest swimmer, biker AND runner. There’s the Iron Man and the half-marathon besides the garden variety of 5-K or 10-K or various local Turkey Trots or how about the 160 mile ultra from Ladysmith to Park Falls and back again and did I mention that one is held in WINTER?

We run until we drop and why? When you see the runners being carried off or kneeling to vomit — well, I have to ask why? There were 208 runners who visited the medical tent at Grandma’s Marathon.

But, before we leave this subject, let’s consider for a moment eating competitions!

Take the hot dog eating contest! Talk about tough! Those dogs and buns have got to go DOWN and not come back up. Joey Chestnut chowed down 71 hotdogs in 10 minutes to be the best — but is going for 75. He was quoted as saying that if someone eats 90, he will eat 91. His female counterpart Miki Sudo ate 31. They are awarded a big plastic belt (like wrestlers) which is trimmed in mustard yellow. Yuk.

How do you train, I wonder?

Besides hot dogs, there are contests for the champion eaters of oysters, chicken wings, Twinkies and of course piles of “Peeps” those sweet, gooey marshmallow Easter chicks.

Odd sporting events ties right into the aforementioned competitions.

There’s toe wrestling, wife-carrying, cheese wheel rolling, tuna tossing and paddling down a river in a carved out giant pumpkin.

The newest and weirdest sport is “Competitive Ironing.” This is a contest to see who can iron a shirt in a very hazardous place — like on a high rocky outcropping or up in a tree. I remember back when I used to spend many a boring hour ironing shirts and never did I think anyone would find a way to make it fun or in any way interesting. Never would I have wondered if I could have “out-ironed” anyone else.

I guess I was standing behind the door when the competitive spirits were being handed out. I almost never care if I am first or even in the race.

I am not sure I could run around the block, I know I couldn’t eat more than two hot dogs and not even going to belly-up to the lunch counter for the oysters. Yuk.

Well, I was just about to make myself some dinner, but you know what? I am going to pass. No shame in passing.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

Load comments