In high school, I was part of a group of students participating in biathlon competitions—cross-country skiing combined with target shooting. But due to the weather conditions, there was frequently a lack of snow preventing us from actually using our skis. So we kept fit by going running instead.
At the start of the eighties, marathon running was beginning to grow in popularity. According to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, in 1980—294 runners ran a marathon in Berlin, 155 women ran in a female-only marathon in London, 5274 marathoners ran in Paris, 688 ran in Barcelona, 3624 ran in Chicago, 12512 ran in New York City, and 3665 ran in Boston.
Even as student athletes, we understood what an undertaking it was to run a marathon. But though we were intimidated by the distance, continuing to train for cross-country skiing without skis made us more confident in our running and eager to get better. As we got used to running longer distances while the popularity of marathons grew, one of us finally posed the question: "Do you think we could run a marathon?"
Two of my friends from my biathlon days continue running to this day. Jack, with whom I ran my first marathon, now takes part in ultra cross-country skiing competitions around the world whereas my friend Mark still runs marathons—though lately, he has also developed a taste for ultra mountain running after completing a 100 miles run.
I send both of them my sincerest regards.