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Of all the sports we cherish today, running is one of the oldest (as well as the simplest) athletic traditions in human history. Humans have been running competitively as early as the second millennium B.C.E. — most famously in the ancient Greek Olympics. The marathon, in particular, is one of the most revered races today, and has been repeated around the world ever since the ancient Battle of Marathon nearly 3,000 years ago!

Though times have changed, the marathon — which is always 42 kilometers (or 26 miles) — has not. It is thought that nearly half a million Americans every year participate in a marathon. Half-marathons alone number at about 2,000 in the U.S.! Even if you exclude the specific race, the fact remains that nearly 57 million Americans went jogging or running at least once in 2012. That same year, there were more than 15,000 5K running events. This month, there are six major running events in Chicago alone. There certainly isn’t a shortage of runners in the United States.

Why do so many people decide to run? What’s the big deal? Well, there are a number of reasons, all of them good.

Here are three:

    1. It’s good for you: Like all forms of exercise, running is beneficial for your health. It can reverse or at least hamper the effects of aging. Running and other kinds of exercise, if done consistently, is known to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 60%. The US Department of Health advises adults to exercise at least two-and-a-half hours every week.
    1. It’s steeped in tradition: The Greeks, as mentioned, pioneered competitive athletic events such as the marathon. They weren’t the only group of people, though, that cherished the sport of running. Formal running, cross-country events date as far back as the 19th century in Europe. For example, the English invented a running game called “hare and hounds” (or “paper chase”) in the early 19th century. A runner, or “hare,” would be chased after another group of runners, or “hounds.” The hare gets a head start and leaves bits of paper behind him so that the hounds can follow him. It is very much like a large-scale version of hide-and-seek. Though that is one example, the “paper chase” demonstrates just how popular running games have been through the generations.
    1. It’s a social event: Running is a great way to spend time with people. Try running in a group or, better yet, in a running event! One thing is for sure: there won’t be a shortage of people.

There are other reasons to run, of course, but no matter what, running is a popular and cherished athletic activity that has been around seemingly since humans learned how to use their legs. Running certainly isn’t going anywhere.

What do you think of running? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom. We look forward to your input. Happy trails!

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