For those not familiar with the route of the Boston Marathon -- a very historic one, I'm told -- it goes from the town of Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston. This is a distance of approximately 32 miles.
Now, compare that, if you will, to a marathon walk that I did, in my own youth. The occasion was my "escape" from Boston to Philadelphia, to seek my fortune. And please note, dear reader, that back in those days, there were no cars, buses, planes, subways, motorcycles, hover-boards, or any of the modern conveniences you take for granted here in this future world of 2014. The only two overland modes of transportation we had were horse -- or on foot!
After a somewhat challenging trip by boat from New York City (beset by a storm that threw us off-course, on the way), I finally arrived in Amboy, New Jersey. And from there, I was told, it was about 50 miles further to Burlington, where I would be able to cross the Delaware River (again, by boat) in order to reach Philadelphia.
So, having no other alternatives, I set out on foot, from Amboy to Burlington -- engaging in my own "marathon" across the width of the entire colony of New Jersey (yes, it was still a colony in those days!). And that journey was, as I said, about 50 miles -- twenty more than the present-day Boston Marathon runners need to endure!
In all modesty, I was pretty fit in those days, when I was in my 20s. The rather ample mid-section most people associate with me did not appear until much later, in middle-age. Back then, however, thanks to the hard work I did in the printing trade, carrying heavy cases of lead type around, in addition to other sundry chores, I did manage to stay rather healthy and strong. So the walk across New Jersey, while frighteningly long and arduous to today's 20-something-year-olds, was not nearly as difficult or impossible for me to consider.
That is not to say that by the time I reached Philadelphia, I wasn't extremely tired and worn, after having journeyed those 50 miles with barely any sustenance at all. As I mentioned in my autobiography, I was thoroughly soaked, and must have cut a pretty "miserable figure," since some of the other people at an inn where I stopped thought I was a runaway servant or something else equally suspicious. (They very nearly took me into custody on that possibility!)
So, dear reader, in conclusion, lest you think that I had no real experience on which to base my comments on the Boston Marathon (of either 2013 or 2014), let me assure you, that trip across New Jersey, especially in those days of 300 years ago, when much of the land was still uncultivated wilderness, with no paved roads and very few modern conveniences, was a significantly greater accomplishment (or, at the very least, a lengthier one) than the Hopkinton-Boston route that the runners traverse today.
This accounting, as I hinted at the outset, is not for purposes of boasting or self-aggrandizement. It is simply an attempt to put things in perspective for you, the modern reader.
Your humble servant,