My 2016 USATF Gold Phidippides Award and ‘Story of Phidippides and Marathon’

“So, when Persia was dust, all cried, “To Acropolis!
Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!” He flung down his shield
Ran like fire once more: and the space ‘twixt the fennel-field
And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,
Till in he broke: “Rejoice, we conquer!” Like wine through clay,
Joy in his blood bursting his heart, – the bliss!”

Robert Browning, 1879 poem Phidippides

Phidippides was either a overworked dispatch-courier of his day, or a crazy runner, but when the Persian army landed at Marathon in 490 BC that dude ran about 250 KM/150 miles in two days out and back between Athens and Sparta. . He came back from his ultra run, then went to fight the battle at Marathon and when his team won the battle, was sent again from Marathon to Athens, for another 40KM/25 mile run to deliver the news!. The over-worked dispatch-courier ran, delivered the joyous word to people, and died. He was 40 years old when he died, making him a Master Runner!

Years later, modern olympics introduced a 40,000 meter ‘Marathon’ race, (24.85 Miles). Not to be a surprise, the first person to win this race, was a Greek Postal Worker, finishing in about 2:58:50 at a 7:11 pace. My friend Anthony Baldman ran a finishing time of 2hr 57 minutes at San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon. His pace was 6:46 because the now norm of Marathon Distance is 26.2. Why you ask? Wouldn’t it be nice to run a round 40k instead of 40k and some? Apparently in 1908 Olympic Games in London the distance was changed to 26 mile, so the race can end  in front of King Edward VII’s royal box at Castleto White City stadium. (If the king died in 1907 instead of 1910, we would have been all running 24.85miles.. so blame the last mile and a half on him when you run!)

I am not a postal worker or a dispatch courier, except the times when we get asked to drop a package at Mission Viejo Post Office for our friend Shannon. But I am 40, and I run, and I try to run often,  so that is a common connection between Phidippides and me. Hopefully that is the only common thing between us, because I am not looking to be dead during a race anytime soon. That would suck.

I signed up for USATF membership without realizing USAT license required for triathlon is to do with USA Triathlon organization, not USA Track and Field Organization.  However, I do like being USATF member this year for the first time. As an average runner, you don’t really need USATF membership, unless you compete in US National Champions, however, after my accidental sign up, I did learn that I get Sports Insurance part of the membership, where I get covered for up to $25,000 if I injure myself in any USATF sanctioned races. (Most races I have run this year has been USATF sanctioned), and I get discounts at hotels and car rentals similar to AAA card,  and just to know that my membership fee of 60$ goes on to support the up and coming Olympic hopefuls.

Little did I know about the USATF Phidippides Award when I signed up, but as more and more races I have been doing since April of this year, one of my running group friend told me to submit my race details to USATF as I might qualify for the ‘USATF Phidippides’ award. So I did, and I am happy to tell you all that, I have been presented with a ‘USATF Gold Phidippides Award for 2016′! Its an honor, and I am glad to have run the miles I ran this year to earn it! I have completed about 14 races so far since April of this year, and about 67 races miles, going from a 7:58 5k pace to a 7:27 5k pace. It has been a complete privilege and humbling experience to run each and every mile that I have run so far! I cant wait for the up coming races!


What is Phidippides Award and how do you quality and get one:

  1. You have to be a member of USA Track and Field. ( Membership is about $60. and its a calendar year membership. So regardless of when you sign up your membership ends in Dec 2016.
  2. You have to be 40 years or older ‘Master’ runner(and have the courage to admit to being that. As you get older, you will notice you get treated special for things that no one cared for you doing in your 30s and 20s)
  3. Run enough USATF certified/sanctioned races, and collect points. Or reputed races, where the courses are marked/measured properly by a race director and verifiable.
    Race Distance Points per Race
    1 mile to 4km 1 point
    5km to 5 mile 2 points
    10km to 15km 3 points
    10 miles to Half Marathon 4 points
    25km to Marathon 5 points
    Distances longer than Marathon 6 points
  4. Depending on your age group , collect enough points to qualify for the Gold, Silver or Bronze.
    Age: 40-59 years 60-79 years 80+
    #Points required #Points required #Points required
    Gold 30 24 12
    Silver 24 18 6
    Bronze 12 9 3
  5. Submit your race details and wait for USATF to ask for clarifications if they have any, and wait for your Award. The Award works in calendar years, so you can submit when you believe you have run enough races.
  6. Read more about the rules of this award here –—/Masters/LDR/Phidippides-Award/Rules.aspx

I had about 35 points for my races up until August.

If you run races as often as I do, look into this. I just get excited about being able to run and getting finisher medals for running, so this Award makes me happy!

Thanks for reading!


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