A marathon amount of effort

12th May 2010 by

The other week I went to watch the London marathon for the first time. I was expecting to be completely bored and slightly annoyed at losing my Sunday to watching thousands of sweaty strangers run past. But a friend was running and had been training really, really hard for about 6 months, so dutifully I went down to the docklands.

We cycled down the lea river and popped out at Limehouse to whistles, balloons, rattles and cheers as the last of the fast ones ran past. Then the pack arrived, scores of runners tearing past scattered with costumes and limps- and it started to get exciting. So there they were thirty-something thousand people running themselves stupid and putting so much effort in. Plus crowds of thousand more, cheering everyone and anyone on. And it was touching to see all these people trying so hard for something and everyone gathered around willing them on.

Obviously the marathon raises loads and loads of money for charity (thank you Adam for doing your 26.3 miles for Otesha!) but in itself it seems like a lot of effort for something fairly abstract. All this made me wonder if there was a way to put all this energy, effort and goodwill into something more practical.

Apparently there are 1,048 watts to be harvested from a long distance runner. Which is enough to power a big old appliance like a really good electric drill or a toaster. So in theory the marathon produced enough energy to power 36000 power tools for a good 5 hours straight. That’s probably enough to have built the Olympic site. Not to mention all that training. Hi-carb food for thought.

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