Running away with health: the urban marathon and the construction of charitable bodies

Sarah Nettleton, Michael Hardey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increase in fundraising through mass-participation running events is emblematic of a series of issues pertinent to contemporary conceptualizations of health and illness. This increasingly popular spectacle serves as an indicator of present-day social relationships and broader cultural and ideological values that pertain to health. It highlights contemporary discourses on citizenship; 'active citizens' can ostentatiously fulfil their rights and responsibilities by raising money for those 'in need'. Involvement in such events comprises an example of the current trend for drawing attention to illness, and sharing one's experiences with others. We examine these issues through a consideration of charity advertisements and offer a fourfold typology of runners in terms of their orientations to both mass-participation running and charity. We conclude that 'charitable bodies' are constructed out of the interrelationships between philanthropic institutions, sport and individual performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-460
Number of pages20
JournalHealth: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health,Illness and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • bodies
  • charity
  • city
  • health
  • marathon
  • media
  • running

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