“If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain.” Winston Churchill is believed to have once said that and there are various forms of this sentence that get repeated over and over. Perhaps it’s because deep down a lot of people believe it. Supposedly something happens right around the time progressives turn 30, during which time they take serious account of their lives and question what they believe and why they believe it. In some cases, they “burn out” on activism and decide not to pursue a life in social justice. After all, what’s the point? The world has gone crazy and it’s only getting worse, despite our best efforts…Or so the thinking goes.
I’ve never liked the term “burn out.” “Burn out” implies a fire that goes out and won’t return. After all, anyone who has camped knows how difficult it is to get a fire started again after it’s gone out the first time.
Leader of the Pack: Tom Longboat (72) and Dorando Pietri (19) leaving Windsor Castle
When Olympic marathon races first appeared in the 1896 Athens games, the route was a somewhat arbitrarily chosen 25 miles and, contrary to popular myth, had no authentic origin in Greek history. By the time of the 1908 London Olympiad, the length had been even more whimsically extended to 26 miles, 385 yards – the exact distance between its starting point at Windsor Castle and the course’s terminus at a massive, barely completed stadium in Shepherd’s Bush. Among other things, trainers in those days believed it was bad for their runners to drink water while running and instead kept them supplied with shots of brandy, whisky and – in a pinch – strychnine, which was used as a stimulant.
These are just some of the many revelations to be found in David Davis’ Showdown at Shepherd’s Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze,