If you've ever seen one of the big marathons — Boston, New York, London, Tokyo — you've probably seen photos of people wandering around after their finish wrapped up in plastic sheeting like Thanksgiving leftovers.
Wait. Maybe leftovers is the wrong word. Maybe it's just me who feels like I've been overcooked and am ready for long-term storage after finishing a marathon as I reach for one of those sheets. But there's something about that thin, coated covering that signifies the finish line almost as much as a medal.
You cross the line, sweaty and tired, and within just a couple of minutes a volunteer presses that sheet in your hand, you wrap it around your shoulders and make your way to the food and water. You don't even have to think about it, which is a good thing because thinking isn't really my strong suit after 26.2 miles.
In those moments I'm definitely not thinking about where that plastic sheet comes from, but the New York Times had a story from the New York Marathon on Nov. 1 about the history of the “Heatsheet.”
Essentially, it came from a combination of NASA engineering and a guy who was both a runner and a smart businessman.
After David Deigan ran the 1979 New York Marathon, he was given a thin, metallic blanket at the finish. His day job was working in a metalizing company that did work in the aerospace industry, so he knew those blankets weren't cheap. Then a co-worker was asked if their company was interested in donating similar blankets for the next marathon.