This coming Easter monday, fans of long distance running and punk rock will be given the chance to celebrate one of the odder milestones in running and punk history. Monday will be 37 years to the day that punk icon Joe Strummer ran the Paris marathon without the benefit of training, on the back of drinking 10 pints.
The anecdote is the stuff of internet lore. In spring of 1982, with the band's seminal album Combat Rock about to drop, Strummer had taken advice from the band's manager to disappear off the face of the earth. Strummer grew a beard and disappeared in Paris. One of the things Strummer decided to do during his Paris adventure was run the city's marathon. It was Strummer's second of three career marathons, and as he explained to American music magazine Steppin' Out, his preparation for the race was hardly ideal.
Steppin’ Out: Didn’t you once run in the Paris Marathon?
Joe Strummer: Yep. I ran three of them.
Steppin’ Out Correct me if I’m wrong but is it also true that you never trained for any of them?
JS: You shouldn’t really ask me about my training regime, you know.
Steppin’ Out Why?
JS: Because it’s not good and I wouldn’t want people to copy it.
Steppin’ Out: Don’t make me beat it out of you.
JS: Okay, you want it, here it is. Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race.
Steppin’ Out: No running at all?
JS: No, none at all. And don’t forget the 10 pints of beer the night before. But make sure you put a warning in this article, “Do not try this at home.” I mean, it works for me and Hunter Thompson but it might not work for others. I can only tell you what I do.
Strummer confirms that he ran the marathon on this interview:
There's no online evidence of Strummer's time in the marathon that we can find, but he did run the 1981 London Marathon in 4:13 which is pretty impressive for a punk. The icons of punk rock were famously hard-living, so Strummer's marathon performance is just another sign of his genius.