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End of one road…beginning of another

October 27th, 2009 by Thompson Lange


Big Sur Marathon Marker John Cerney

On November 8th I will add Europe to the six other continents I’ve run and complete the FINAL marathon in my quest to run around the world.

Yup, that’s right folks…I’m off to Marathon to run a marathon.  And thank god and Frequent Flier miles, by this time two weeks from now I’ll be lifting a frothy Athenian and yelling “Yiamas!” (A frothy Athenian is a beer, by the way – as opposed to a sweaty Carmelite, which would be me.)

Athens Classic Marathon

This particular finish line won’t come a moment too soon, let me tell ya, ’cause this has been ONE stressful goal.  I’ve spent the last couple of years waiting for my age or an unleashed dog to catch up with me and turn this goal into a proverbial “fool’s errand” (’cause when it comes to fool’s errands I’m halfway there by definition).

It’s pretty exciting for me to be this close, to tell you the truth.  My drive towards this has seemed insane even to me at times.  But really, anyone who’s ever seen me KNOWS I’m no athlete, and yet I’m about to become one of less than 300 people in the whole-wide-world to have done this.  If it ever gets easier to get to Antarctica those numbers will probably explode (well, maybe not EXPLODE), but odd’s are I’ll get to be in a fairly exclusive club for awhile or forever.

And the nicest part for me, really, about the impending run is that from Day 1 of this goal the movie in my mind has ended this experience with the Athens Marathon…a run that starts in the mythical birthplace of the marathon and ends in the coliseum where the first modern Olympics were played.

The countdown:

Asia:  Great Wall Marathon 2005

South America:  Rio Marathon 2007

Australia: Sydney Marathon 2007

Antarctica: Antarctica Marathon 2008

North America: Vancouver Marathon 2008

Africa: Kynsna Forest Marathon 2009

So THAT road has just about ended…BUT I’m literally at the beginning of my next marathon-related thrill.  And the beauty of THIS experience is that I don’t have to run to participate.

Anyone who has been to Salinas knows the work of muralist John Cerney.  (He paints those ENORMOUS figures that dot the local landscape.)

Salinas Murals by Joh Cerney

John has been commissioned to paint new mile markers for next year’s 25th anniversary of the Big Sur International Marathon. And I get to be one!  Literally “one” ’cause I’m Mile Marker #1 (which is a weird kind of honor, I think).  The idea is to make each mile memorable and humorous, i.e. the proverbial “hitting of the wall”  at Mile 20:

Big Sur Marathon Mile 20 marker

The concept for Mile Marker #1 was for me to look like I’m so amped about running the Big Sur Marathon that I sleep in my running gear to save time so I can hit the ground running on race morning…and then much to my horror and dismay, realize I’ve over-slept.

I posed for the mural yesterday when I was over in Salinas and gave it the ‘ol college try to look “bigger than life” (’cause I will be by the time John is through with “me”).  He’ll enhance the punchline by painting in a calendar over my shoulder X’ing off the days until the event and other Big Sur Marathon”y” stuff.


1) I was TRYING to make my eyes bug out of my head…and I think it worked (FYI: it hurts to make your eyes bug out of your head).

And 2) No, I’m not wearing a one piece bathing suit.  (I hope he paints in longer shorts.  Didn’t know they were going to ride up.  Lawdy.)

Mile Marker #1 aMile Marker #1 bMile Marker #1 c

Ahhh…running immortality. As the caricature of a runner that I truly am:

Thompson Lange: Mile Marker 1 for the Big Sur Marathon

Amazing…John’s even captured the mis-colored crown I have in my mouth and the dent in my tongue when I screamed!

Thompson Lange at the Big Sur Marathon...for years to come


I just got an email with the Mile Marker Homescapes is sponsoring. The image is kinda mean, but really funny I think, because the joke on us slow runners is VERY appropriate to how I, myself, am feeling after crossing the Bixby Bridge and contemplating the next 12+ miles:

Big Sur International Marathon Mile 14 Marker