Any runner with the gumption to pick a race, sign up, train, and complete it deserves to be recognized for accomplishing their goal, but it has been argued that half marathoners have had some of their glory stolen from them simply by the name of the race they conquered. Every other distance regularly raced has a name of its own, an acknowledgement of its unique distance and challenge to runners. The half marathon is the sole distance race not only named after another distance, but also named in a way that cheapens it by pointing out that it’s only half the distance of another well-known race. It’s about time to give this popular middle distance race a name of it’s own – one that recognizes and celebrates its unique challenges. Here are a few.
13.1 miles technically translates to 21.097491 Kilometers, but to keep it simple, let’s just call it a 21K. Although not extremely creative, many other well-known races – 5k, 10k, 50k, etc. — are simply named after their kilometer distance. In fact, the marathon is probably the only other well-known race that doesn’t go by it’s distance in kilometers, and most non-runners couldn’t tell you how many miles or kilometers are in a marathon.
You’re probably thinking, “What the hell?” This actually makes a lot of sense. Held annually in Gothenburg, Sweden, Göteborgsvarvet is the largest half marathon competition in the world, with 62,000 entrants. In English, the race is sometimes called ‘Göteborg half marathon’, so just ‘Göteborg’ is just fine. It’s easily the most badass sounding suggestion on the list, and who doesn’t feel like a total badass after running a half marathon?
The Wall Breaker
Perhaps this one is suggestive of “The Ball Breaker,” which is true of a half marathon anyway, and may even be a more accurate (although less ‘appropriate’) descriptive name for the race. Half marathons are also often used by runners to break into longer distances, or ‘break through a wall’ into the marathon zone. Few people stop at half marathons – many at least try a marathon as well.
The Long Dash
Doesn’t everyone love a little irony? Sure, ‘Dash’ generally implies a sprint between two near distances, but put the word ‘long’ before it, and you’ve created chaos. A ‘long dash’ is paradoxical anyway, so why the hell not decide its definition is “13.1 miles”?
The Step-Up Race
Okay, this one may take a little longer to catch on, but the meaning behind it is heartfelt. Along the lines of ‘The Wall Breaker’, half marathons are often used by people to prove to themselves that they are more than a casual runner – they can put in some real long distance, which the majority of Americans would agree is anything over 10 miles (many would agree with fewer miles even). It could even sound cool to pronounce, “I’m running a step-up,” or “I’m training to step-up.”
Although the half marathon name seems pretty well established and unlikely to change, it’s important to acknowledge – if even in a daydream – that it is an awesome race and deserves to have some autonomy from the marathon itself. We’d love to also hear some suggestions from you on what you think a better name for the half marathon distance is.
By: Audra Rundle