Most people train for months running several times each week in preparation for a marathon, one of the most gruelling physical tasks you can put your body through.
To complete a marathon without training really is quite something, as 26-year-old Ian McNamara from Cincinnati, Ohio, recently discovered.
Unfortunately for Ian, losing in his fantasy football league meant he had to attempt to run 26.2 miles without preparation. Not exactly an easy task.
Taking part in the 2018 Hamilton Nightglow marathon which starts at 6.00pm, Ian had the added challenge of having to complete the race in under six hours as the course closed at midnight.
Despite constantly wanting to throw the towel in as he hit mile after mile thinking ‘at no point will [he] finish’, Ian pushed through determined not to be defeated again.
The persistence paid off as an exhausted Ian crossed the finish line with only two minutes to spare completing the marathon in five hours and 58 minutes.
You can watch the incredible moment here:
Speaking to UNILAD, Ian explained how he has taken part in a highly competitive fantasy football league over the past four years with his best friends from childhood.
At the end of every year there is a horrendous punishment for the person who finishes last, something everyone gets together to watch whether it is performing stand-up comedy or pooping their pants in public.
Unluckily, this year it was Ian’s turn, and he wasn’t exactly filled with confidence when he was presented with his penalty.
He told UNILAD:
Once I found out I’d be the one running, it became a issue of pride. I came to the conclusion I was absolutely not going to finish, so I would at least not embarrass myself by training and failing.
If I was going to fail, I was going to fail with pride, the pride of a stubborn and obstinate aging man past his prime clinging to youth.
In fact, I became honour bound not to train, often bragging that I didn’t need to train at all (knowing full well of course I had to train, and knowing that I wasn’t fooling anyone).
I was not quiet and I was not confident, but I displayed to those in the group chat and anyone who knew what I had to do a supreme confidence that I was going to finish.
Although Ian’s friends were initially playful, teasing him about the marathon, as the date edged closer they became increasingly concerned for his safety.
Their worries got to Ian who then began to feel nervous asking his friends how far they think he would get.
As their predictions rolled in ranging from ‘four miles’ to ’16’, only Ian’s oldest friend believed in him, saying he could do it, encouraging him to drag himself to the starting line.
During the race the predictions Ian’s friends had made, which had turned into bets, kept his legs going to the very end despite the intense struggle.
He explained why to UNILAD:
Literally the entire marathon I was counting down to when I would throw in the towel, often idealising and wondering ‘wouldn’t it be funny if I actually finished?’.
Ironically, what kept me going were the bets my friends had made against me. Their rooting for my failure spurred me onward.
What had originally been designed to shoot my unwarranted confidence was keeping me going. It was just knocking off the next one, proving them wrong.
As Ian spotted his friends later on in the race, he noticed they were no longer rooting for his failure but instead were cheering.
From then on the realisation his mates now thought he could actually do it inspired Ian who enjoyed a beer or two with them after he crossed the finish line.
Completing the marathon without training meant a lot to him, especially since the furthest distance he had run before was three miles back at college.
Ian told UNILAD:
Crossing the finish line was sincerely one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced. I collapsed and a firefighter immediately came over and checked if I had died and then gave me recovery advice.
Everyone with me helped me to my feet where I was walked back to the party bus and had a cold beer. The best beer I have ever had.
Completing the marathon may not seem like a big deal because it’s been done before, but I feel truly blessed to have finished, lucky to have the friends I do, and satisfied I did what I thought was impossible.
I ran that marathon because of the great friends I love so much and I know they would do the same for me.
It really is quite the achievement Ian, although not exactly something to recommend to others!
Wanting to share the memory with the world, a proud Ian posted a photo on Reddit of himself collapsing into his friends’ arms as he crossed that finish line.
It took 5 hours and 58 minutes, but I did It. This is the moment I crossed the finish line and collapsed into my friends’ arms after completing an entire marathon without training.
The internet showed him their support giving him over 5,000 upvotes at time of writing (September 20) which left Ian feeling overwhelmed by the messages of love and congratulations.
He is also pretty grateful he became internet famous for something he is proud of rather than something stupid which we totally get!
We wish you every congratulations Ian!
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.