Try this next time you are out in public,
Play "Jaywalking", and ask 5 random people on the street the following question;
"Which distance is the longest, a 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, or Marathon?"
I bet 5 out of 5 will say a marathon.
Let's face it, the marathon has become ubiquitous in our society. For many, it's a notch on their belt. For others, it's a goal to loose weight and get off the couch. And for some, it's conquering inner self esteem demons.
Most of us probably have a little of each inside of us, but the "marathon" has become more than one distance of a race, it has become a pop-culture phenomenom.
For you distance runners out there, how many times have you trained for a 10k, 1/2 marathon, or 25k and have people ask "how long is that marathon?" The marathon has become less of a 26.2 mile basis point, and more of a status symbol. I am just as guilty as the next person.
Why do I care if I do or do not qualify for the Boston Marathon if I never intend on running it? (well, never say never)
It's ego... self worth.... or a benchmark to see if we are still warriors in a society that does not allow us to be.
So how does relate to the title "Why is a marathon harder than a 50k?" Well, because we make it.
The marathon has every mile marked, pacing charts, and a log of time stigma attached to it. It's very hard to go out conservative in a marathon because you have so much feedback.
On the other hand, 50k's are less of a media and circus event. How often do you see mile markers in a 50k (if ever). Usually they are trail races too, so pace just does not factor into. And, to top it off, nobody knows what a good 50k time is! I mean really... is there a Boston qualifier equivalent for the 50k? I think not.
So, we go out like we should in a 50k, relaxed and easy. We stay under our Lactic Acid threshold. We run smart.
The people at the water cooler on Monday ooh and aahh at the marathon finisher from the weekend, but could care less that somebody ran a 50 (or 100)k.
After Superior last month, I ran into countless people who said something similar to "I did not even know there was a distance longer than the marathon!"
I guess I did not either until a few years ago.
The Marathon is harder than the 50k because we are bunch of narcissistic neanderthals. (at least the men are).