What the heck is a Pikermi?

16 Aug

I only recently heard this term and when I heard it, I swear I thought someone had sneezed! A Pikermi? What the heck is that?

Apparently there is a new movement to start calling the half marathon race distance a “Pikermi.” I am really not sure how I feel about this. Personally, I am not all that offended by the 13.1 mile distance being called a half marathon and I think Pikermi sounds a little silly. It just does not seem to roll off the tip of the tongue for me. Some runners, however, feel that some sense of accomplishment is lost when you call a race a “half” of something else…like it is not quite as good or it that it loses some of its luster.

I have also noticed this trend of calling marathons “marys” and half marathons “half marys.” Again, I do not necessarily like these new terms. I mean, I am not this staunch opponent of them, and if other people want to call them that, that’s fine, but I just feel weird saying, “WHEW! I just set a PR on a half mary!”

Standing on a step and STILL shorter than my running buddies.

For some reason, “half mary” makes me think of a “hail mary” in football…which I realize is a COMPLETELY different thing, but it just the first place my brain goes when I hear “half mary”. Plus, when I run a half marathon, I like having that word “marathon” in there. I won’t lie…It makes me feel good. And to non-runners, throwing the word “marathon” in there always makes people say, “Oooooh.” 🙂

If we are going to start giving each race distance its own special name, what the heck are we supposed to do with ultramarathons? Technically, an ultramarathon is anything over the 26.2 mile marathon race distance. However, ultramarathon races typically cover any distance from a 50k on up. Common ultramarathon distances are 50k, 50-milers, 100k, and 100-milers, but there are definitely race distances beyond that. All I know is that if special names are designated for all of these distances, I will never be able to remember them!

How do you feel about these new race distance name suggestions? Should the 13.1 race distance get its own name? After all, we don’t call a 5k race a “half 10k,” but should we?

28 Responses to “What the heck is a Pikermi?”

  1. ERIC at 8:29 AM #

    I am one of those pikermi(ers) I wear the shirt. I guess it just gives me a chance to stand out. http://www.teampikermi.com

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:30 AM #

      That’s cool! I had never really heard of the term until the other day. I think its neat if it makes people happy, but I just know that I feel weird saying it. 🙂

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:31 AM #

      Shoot, I don’t even know if I’m pronouncing it correctly. Is it (phonetically) Pike-er-my? Or Pike-er-me?

      • ERIC at 9:12 AM #

        haha neither. Pee-Ker-Mee.

  2. Erin at 8:47 AM #

    Does pikermi mean something? Sounds like random letters to me, but I’m guessing there’s logic behind the name.

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:53 AM #

      Great question! Yes, Pikermi actually does mean something. Pikermi is a community of Attica, Greece and it lies on Marathonos Avenue. I can only logically assume that is where the name comes from. It is pretty interesting. You can check out more background on it at the Pikermi Wikipedia page. Hope that helps!

    • ERIC at 9:13 AM #

      Basically, the term Pikermi is used because of the route of the original “marathon” in Greece, which was a route from the town of Marathon to Athens approximately 26.2 miles (the distance of a marathon). The town of Pikermi is about the mid-point between Marathon and Athens, therefore being a distance of about 13.1 miles.

    • Amanda LeBlanc at 9:20 AM #

      I very much like “fun sized”. While I think the background on Pikermi is pretty neat to know and makes sens, I’m with Katie, it’s a mouthful to me. And I don’t think that 13.1 miles is anything to sneeze at. It’s a big accomplishment for anyone and THE accomplishment for many.

      • Amanda LeBlanc at 9:25 AM #

        “. . . and makes sense. . .” that is. I can spell. Really.

  3. trailrunningchick at 9:28 AM #

    I like the name half-marathon too. It gives a sense of accomplishement, plus that’s what it is anyway and I’m not going to start calling it a 13.1 either…
    By the way half mary, my first that was half a bloody mary which has even less to do with the subject.

    • ERIC at 9:35 AM #

      I find it interesting that we choose where the lines of calling something a half are. the 200 meter is not called the half lap. The mile is not called the half 2 mile, but the 800 is called the half mile. Then we change and call some with “k” the 5k, the 10k. Then it is back to half… it is just strange to me how all of these names evolved…. a 5k is not a half 10k…interesting.

  4. deepsouthrunner at 9:38 AM #

    I learned about the term Pikermi from reading the blogs on Runner’s World’s site! I think someone on there is the one who came up with it, since it’s the town in Greece that’s halfway from Athens to Marathon or something. I could be making that up. I don’t mind the term “half marathon,” I think it still sounds pretty tough! I have never heard “half mary” I kind of like that!! 🙂

    • katieRUNSthis at 10:59 AM #

      No, no, you are right! Very good on recalling your facts! That is exactly where the name came from. So, I totally get the concept of WHY people want to call it a Pikermi, but I just can’t really get used to letting the word come out of my mouth. Someone also suggested calling a half marathon a “mini marathon” or “fun size marathon”…which I thought was sort of cute. 🙂

  5. Lindsey deBlieux at 9:53 AM #

    Pikermi? Nope, not having it. Sounds too much like an animated character on a kid’s trading card (Pikachu, anyone?). I’m planning to run my first half marathon in December or January and I’ll be super pumped to complete it and call myself a half-marathoner.

    I’m okay with Mary and half-mary, but probably won’t use either for the same reasons I won’t use “jelly” as a term for “jealous” or “popi” for “popular.” I’m not nearly cool enough to get away with that.

    • katieRUNSthis at 10:54 AM #

      Ha! You are too funny! I hadn’t really thought of it like that, but now that you mention it, it does sound sort of like an anime character name!

      I agree. Some people are cool enough to get away with the slang but I am so not. I tried saying “totes” for the word “totally” once and I felt like I belonged in the movie Clueless. Its just not for me. 🙂

  6. I’ll let other people call it what they want… but to me Pikermi sounds silly, although I like the fact that it actually has some meaning. Half Mary sounds even more silly! I am not “running a mary”! I’m going to stick with the traditional terms…. there is nothing wrong with them!

    • katieRUNSthis at 10:52 AM #

      I’m with you. I am sort of traditional and I guess I have been calling these races these names for so long, it has sort of stuck for me. Calling them anything else seems uncomfortable for me personally.

  7. Ironman By Thirty at 11:54 AM #

    I’ve heard the term Pikermi before but only online, never actually at a race. I don’t think it diminishes the accomplishment at all to call it a “half” marathon. The only people that wouldn’t understand the achievement are people who don’t even know what a marathon is so they are going to know what a pikermi is either.

    On a semi related note, I was wearing a half Ironman bike jersey the other day. I had a guy look at it and quip, “What’s a half Ironman? A tin man?” Haha. I thought that was really clever. Want to start a movement to rename the half Ironman now??

  8. While I like this history behind the word, I can’t remember it to save my life. I’ve only recently started using the term “mary” and “half-mary” on Twitter due to the character limits…spelling out marathon each time eats up my space! Personally, I don’t care what they call the races, I won’t get offended by the name. However, I think it’s important to not let a word inflate our egos. We, as runners, know what we put into our runs and the distances that are involved. To be honest, MOST of my friends still ask how far my last marathon was (as if the distances change) and often refer to ALL of my runs as a marathons (“Lynn’s running another marathon this weekend”) regardless of the fact that I’m actually running a half or 10k.

    • katieRUNSthis at 3:02 PM #

      Ha! My friends do the same thing…they think EVERYTHING is a marathon. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to explain it to them, to no avail. Oh well. I’m not really all that bothered by it and I just laugh it off anyway. 🙂

      • I really have to try hard not to get frustrated with them…as Jon “The Penguin” Bingham says, your non-running friends hear 26.2 miles and their brains turn off…they just have no concept of that distance or why anyone in their right mind would purposely run it. Luckily, I have a few ‘new’ running friends who can totally relate…and, of course, blogs like yours!! =)

  9. Tara Burner at 3:37 PM #

    I like half and will stay with ‘half’ the rest just dont seem the same
    then again I’m not good with change!

  10. Renee at 4:08 PM #

    I absolutely hate the terms “mary” and “half-mary”. I don’t know what it is, but it just sounds terrible to me. I only first discovered the term pikermi recently because I met someone who has a blog called “I Heart Pikermis” and I googled the term. It doesn’t bother me, but I really don’t see it catching on. In the running world I will stick with calling it a half or half marathon. When talking to non-runners it is a half-marathon. I don’t need to confuse them more.

  11. While I get the story behind Pikermi you won’t catch me calling it that – I don’t have any problem with the term half marathon. Never once have I thought it diminishes the accomplishment by having “half” in the name. I’m a traditionalist…it works for me. And besides, as Lindsey said, Pikermi sounds like one of the cartoons my kids watch 🙂

  12. Kristyn G at 8:45 AM #

    As far as I am concerned, there is nothing “fun” about running 13.1 miles, so I certainly don’t get the “fun sized” marathon name. I agree that just hearing the word “marathon” makes non runners stop and take notice. I have never run anything longer than a 10K, but am planning on running the RNR half in NOLA in March and I think that calling it anything other than a “Half Marathon” is just plain wrong and seems to take something from the difficulty of the accomplishment. 🙂 13.1 is a LONG distance to run in my book!

    • katieRUNSthis at 8:58 AM #

      Ha! To me, a half marathon is still a “fun” distance. A full marathon, however, well…that is a different story. 🙂 Either way, both distances require effort and training. I think giving them a weird name sort of “cheapens” them.

      You are running the RnR NOLA in March? I’ll be there too! Too fun! You should come and meet up with our Run Louisiana group! I did the full RnR NOLA marathon this year and it was AWESOME! I’m shooting to do the full again next year, but we’ll see how things go after the baby comes in November. 🙂

  13. Nicole at 9:08 PM #

    I think it is lame! Half marathon is a half marathon!! When I hear ‘half mary’ I think of a bloody mary- gross!!!

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