1st Edition

Urban Marathons Rhythms, Places, Mobilities

By Jonas Larsen Copyright 2022
    204 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    204 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This original social science text approaches marathon running as an everyday practice and a designed event, to draw upon and contribute to the literature on practice theory, urban events, rhythmanalysis and mobility. It bridges sport studies and discussions within sociology and geography about practice, movement and the city.

    Inspired by theoretical debates about embodied and multi-sensuous mobilities, social and material practices, and urban rhythms, this book explores the characteristics of marathon running as a bodily practice on the one hand and, on the other, marathon training grounds and events as unique places. This account takes marathon running seriously, using sociological and geographical theory to understand the practice in and of itself. Based on original empirical research and accessible to readers, taking them to training sessions in Copenhagen and to marathons in Tokyo, Kyoto, Berlin, Frankfurt, Valencia and Copenhagen, it draws out the globalised, codified and generic nature of marathon practices and design, yet also brings out the significant local differences. The book examines in ethnographic detail how marathon practices and places are produced by various materialities, cultural scripts, experts, runners and spectators, and practiced in embodied, multi-sensuous and ‘emplaced’ ways by ordinary runners. It develops a sociological practice approach to marathon running and geographical understanding of marathon places and rhythms. It demonstrates that marathon running is of broad interest because it calls for and allows lively and expressive ways of conducting and writing research and understanding the becoming of bodies, the intertwining of biological and mechanical rhythms, and the eventful potential of streets.

    It will appeal to postgraduate students and scholars in sport studies, geography and sociology interested in running, active mobility and ethnography, as well as tourism and urban events. The book will also appeal to general readers with an interest in marathon running.

    1. Introduction  2. Theorizing running: Corporeal mobile practices and mobile places  3. Running methods: Lively ethnographies and energising the rhythm analyst  4. Innovating new aspirations: The birth of ordinary marathon practices and extraordinary marathons  5. Materialities of marathon running: Designing practices and places  6. Preparatory rhythms: Everyday running and training grounds  7. Dramatic race rhythms  8. Atmospheric sensations and places  9. Conclusion 


    Jonas Larsen is an internationally recognised professor of mobility and urban studies at Roskilde University, Denmark. He has published extensively about tourist photography, tourism, cycling, running and mobility more broadly.

    "With ‘urban marathons’ mobility scholar Jonas Larsen takes us into the inner world of runners laying bare the complex phenomenology as well as more-than-human elements of one of the most demanding forms of human mobility. The materialities and atmospheres of marathon mobilities are uncovered in this fine-grained analysis leading to a deeper understanding of human-powered mobilities as both about moving bodies, but also ‘atmospheric sociality’. ‘Urban marathons’ is an important contribution to mobilities research in general, as well as a must-read for the keen runner with a taste for knowing more."

    Ole B. Jensen, Aalborg University, Denmark.

    "Unlike many other studies in the sociology and geography of sports, "Urban Marathons" is written from the inside. It is from within that Jonas Larsen actually takes the reader along for the ride on the very grounds touched by his and other runners' tired feet. There, we become deeply attuned to the mobilities of running and the fascinating atmospheres of global cities becoming alive through the unique rhythms of global marathons. Leading the pace - sensitive to bodily feelings, carnally attuned to the practice, and honestly invested in the sport - is a deeply insightful reflexive ethnographer who is as perceptive a runner as he is a writer."

    Phillip Vannini, Royal Roads University and Nanaimo Track & Field Club, Canada.


    "We are lucky indeed that this compelling book has been created by an academic who is as dedicated to running as to writing. In this highly personable account, Jonas Larsen lucidly writes about the conviviality, rhythmic training regimes and sheer sensory pleasures of participating in marathons. In so doing, he has contributed new insights into the distinctive qualities of sporting events and the unique attributes of the places in which they are staged."

    Tim Edensor, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.