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11 Celebrity Marathoners

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Next Monday, 25,000 people will gather in Hopkinton, Mass., for the start of the 113th Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon. When they cross the finish line, they'll join the ranks of the likes of Michael Dukakis, Mario Lopez, Lisa Ling, and Ali Landry, all of whom have navigated the same hilly, 26.2-mile course. Here are 11 other celebrities who have gone the distance at marathons throughout the world.

1. Oprah Winfrey

Wearing bib No. 40 to match her age, Winfrey finished the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, in 4 hours, 29 minutes, and 20 seconds. "This is better than an Emmy," Winfrey said after fulfilling a promise she made to herself eight years prior. Winfrey trained for 20 weeks leading up to the race with personal trainer Bob Greene, who ran alongside her. The race was filmed for a future episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show, during which Winfrey introduced the marathon's female winner, Susan Malloy.

2. Will Ferrell

ferrell.jpgFerrell, the actor and comedian who famously demonstrated his athletic prowess while streaking half-naked down a street in Old School, has run three marathons. The former Saturday Night Live star and his wife, Viveca, ran the New York City Marathon in 2001, finishing in 5 hours, 1 minute, and 6 seconds. Ferrell ran the Stockholm Marathon in 2002 and broke the 4-hour barrier at the Boston Marathon in 2003. In a 2008 interview, Ferrell described a lasting memory from his race in Stockholm, which was run on a very hot day: "I came around this corner, I'm in the last stretch just barely hanging on, and this woman offers me a salted pickle for refreshment. Just the sight of it, I almost lost it."

3. Katie Holmes

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Holmes ran the 2007 New York City Marathon in 5 hours, 29 minutes, and 58 seconds. Or did she? In the days that followed, websites such as Defamer and Gawker offered half-baked conspiracy theories that suggested Holmes didn't run the entire race. Holmes entered the race under an alias so that she wouldn't draw too much attention to herself beforehand, but her actual name is listed in the race results.

4. George W. Bush and 5. Sarah Palin

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Distraught after his father was defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 Presidential Election, George W. Bush turned to running. "I decided I was going to set a little project for myself," Bush told Runner's World in 2002. That project was training for the 1993 Houston Marathon, which Bush finished in 3 hours, 44 minutes, and 52 seconds. There's no word on whether Bush, who said that running helped teach him not to be so compulsive, will plan a similar project after the Republican Party's latest defeat. If he does, he has a potential training partner in Sarah Palin, who ran the Humpy's Marathon in Anchorage in 2005 in less than 4 hours.

6. Buster Martin

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Martin, a van cleaner for a plumbing service in London, completed the London Marathon in 2008 at the age of 94 or 101, depending on who you believe. Martin, who finished the race in 10 hours, claims he was 101, which would make him the oldest man to complete a marathon. Guinness World Records has refused to recognize the feat, however, because it is impossible to verify Martin's age. Martin, who was recognized as the UK's oldest employee in 2006, has two birth dates registered with the British National Health Service, and officials at Guinness have reason to believe that he was actually born in 1913. According to Guinness, Greek runner Dimitrion Yordanidis became the oldest man to complete a marathon when he did so in Athens in 1976 at the age of 98.

7. Sean "Diddy" Combs

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If you decide to train for a marathon, don't do as Diddy did. Entering the 2003 New York City Marathon to raise money for charity was a good idea; allowing only two months to train for the race was not. "I think the hardest part of training for me has been changing my lifestyle," said Diddy, who, in addition to working with celebrity trainer Mark Jenkins, trained with three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar. "Cutting back on being out late, partying, working in the studio late, changing my diet." Running on an injured knee, Diddy finished the race in 4 hours and 14 minutes. USA Track & Field selected Diddy as its Athlete of the Week after he raised $2 million for children's charities leading up to the race.

8. Teddy Roosevelt

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Teddy's well-documented streak of futility in the mid-game Presidents' Race at Washington Nationals games continued at the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon, where the lovable loser proved that it's not always about winning and losing, but finishing the race. With security detail running alongside him, Teddy completed the marathon on the eve of his 150th birthday in 6 hours, 26 minutes, and 49 seconds, which was good enough for 17,944th place. If nothing else, he served as motivation for some of the slower participants in the race, who could either muster the energy to pass Teddy over the course of the final few miles or fall asleep that night knowing that they finished behind a guy with a 40-pound head.

9. Lance Armstrong

lance.jpgAfter he overcame cancer to win the Tour de France a record seven times, you could excuse Armstrong for thinking that his first marathon would be a breeze. Armstrong met his goal of breaking 3 hours at the 2006 New York City Marathon, but was humbled by the experience. "For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done," said Armstrong, who finished 856th in 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 36 seconds. "I never felt a point where I hit the wall, it was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness." Armstrong shaved 13 minutes off his time in the 2007 New York City Marathon. After he finished last year's Boston Marathon in 2:50:58, Armstrong jokingly asked, "Where's the flat marathons? Anybody know?"

10. Michael Waltrip and 11. Kyle Petty

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Petty and Waltrip have done their parts to dispel the belief that NASCAR drivers aren't athletes. Moving at roughly 7 miles per hour instead of their customary 200, the duo ran the 2005 Las Vegas Marathon to raise money for charity. Waltrip, a marathon veteran, finished in 3 hours, 56 minutes, while Petty, who was running his first marathon, finished in 4:16. "The wind was horrendous, but I enjoyed the race," Waltrip said. "I don't know if I could have run any faster." He then thanked his pit crew.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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