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Some thoughts about the marathon, startups & venture life

Today is Patriots Day which is a holiday here in Massachusetts and many offices including our office at Spark are closed.

The Boston marathon also takes place this morning which is the oldest annual marathon according to Wikipedia.

We love watching the runners in the marathon and we pretty much go every year. Young, old, wheel chair or elite. They are all incredible. And the amount of training and dedication is awesome. I’m looking forward to heading down to our favorite spot later this morning to look out for some of our friends and cheer them on. 

Often we hear in venture and startup life to remember that “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.

According to wikipedia, the marathon was inspired by the story of Pheidippides.

The traditional story relates that Pheidippides (530 BC–490 BC), an Athenian herald, was sent to Sparta to request help when the Persians landed at Marathon, Greece.

He ran 240 km (150 miles) in two days. He then ran the 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word “Νενικήκαμεν” (Nenikékamen, ‘We have won’) and collapsed and died on the spot because of exhaustion.

(It is an inspiring story for sure but Pheidippides dies after running so the ending is a bit of a buzz kill.)

I think that saying “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” is important to remember and there are some important lessons in that line.

Yet startup & vc life rarely feels like a marathon.

To me it feels like a series of intense sprints, one after another with breaks (vacation or weekend) in between to mix things up a bit and provide some much needed rest & fuel. There is a sense of urgency that exists where we need to get a tremendous amount done and at our very best.

But I think it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind as we race along from sprint to sprint. Enjoy your vacations. Make them your own. It’s something I struggle with all the time but I’m getting better (a benefit of getting older?). Recently I’ve been trying out no-email-saturdays. It’s got a nice ring to it.

Okay, that’s enough rambling for one post. Good luck to all the runners today – in the boston marathon and in startup life too :)