In 2014, an estimated 550,637 people finished an organized marathon, according to Runner's World. One of them was me. Last November, during the New York City Marathon, I attempted to explain why 50,000 of us were running through the city:
Marathon participation has been growing for 38 years straight, which is shocking given the tremendous strain the race puts on the body. It's easy to injure yourself, just like running (rather than walking) for exercise can increase the risk of injury.
But my experience confirmed something I'd long suspected: The triumph of finishing the marathon is one of mind over body. I had never been in much pain in my life as when I finished. Just across the finish line, I sobbed into my unfazed wife Amy's shoulder. Each step walking away after felt like a knife plunging into that knee.
Had I not prepared correctly? It didn't matter. I was so happy, my wife and I were closer than ever after 18 weeks of organized training, and my mind was at ease. I'd decided to give my body a challenge, and we rose to the occasion.
For a lot more about what that looks like, why others run, and how we got to 550,000 runners finishing in a year, watch the video above or on our YouTube channel.