When the Greek messenger Pheidippides was sent to Athens to announce the Persian’s defeat in the battle of Marathon, he ran the entire distance without stopping, burst into the Athenian assembly, declared success, and then collapsed and died on the spot. Fun Run is his story.
These days every Tom, Dick and Harry is giving the cruel 42kms a go. Oprah’s done it, P. Diddy crossed the line in four hours 15 minutes, and even Katie Holmes took a break from Broadway to waddle through in just under five and a half hours. It’s not uncommon for marathon runners to suffer everything from: dramatic fatigue; hyponatremia; jogger’s nipple; blisters; cardiac arrest; kidney failure; sinus issues; physiological damage; death or at the very least a cheeky coma. And we love it. It takes us back to when we sat front row during French Revolution executions or bought a ticket to Houdini in the hope he would drown.
Not only a homage to Pheidippides, FUN RUN is a riotous celebration of the cult of personality that marathon running and sport has become, as Tristan Meecham pushes himself to the limits of human endurance to complete the hallowed marathon.
Clad in tight lycra shorts and golden sneakers, Tristan runs the gruelling 42.2. kilometres on a treadmill, supported by massive visual effects, a booming soundtrack, a silky-voiced MC and hundreds of performers and athletes. Humps’ journey will have the audience cheering, gasping and asking: can he succeed, will he hit the wall and collapse in humiliating failure?
Family friendly and suitable for all ages. Fun Run is a site specific event that combines sport, biological science, video art, live performance, community group engagement and physical risk to create a public durational spectacle.
Premiered in City Square Melbourne for Next Wave Festival. Saturday 22 May, 2010.
Art Vs Sport: does that old doozy even have any traction these days? The thousands of slightly baffled passers-by who stumbled on this hilarious event in the City Square last weekend were unsure as to which they were witnessing. Local artist Tristan Meecham re-created Pheidippides’ first ever marathon by running 42 kilometers on a treadmill over four hours, but surrounded himself with the kind of spectacle reserved for a big sporting event of corporate showcase: dancers, cheerleaders, gymnasts, cyclists, DJ’s and a light and sound show that could be heard from blocks away. Part durational live art; part comment on the commodification of athletic prowess; all terrific fun. The Sunday Age Newspaper.
Aviator sunglasses and nipple pasties aren’t normal pieces of marathon running equipment but this performance succeeded in amalgamating durational performance practices of the 1970’s (while injecting them with humour), subversive gender antics, a critique of celebrity culture (his self-positioning as a rock star-like protagonist with a hero’s narrative ‘arc’ follows on the heels of marathon-running celebrities such as Oprah and P Diddy) and an examination (or was it pure celebration) of public spectacle (some 7000 people are estimated to have seen the CBD performance, the vast majority of whom would presumably not have known of the event beforehand). Dylan Rainforth- Artlink Magazine.
And it was fun. What fun. You could hear it from blocks away. But what made this event so curiouslysubversive was the lack of cues that clued us in that it was Art. Countless passersby wondered what they were watching – a charity event? A corporate stunt? A sporting spectacle? It was all of these things, kind of, or parodies of each. It definitely involved the city in a truly remarkable way, and as the sun set and the runner entered the final leg of the race the atmosphere was electric among onlookers still none the wiser as to why they were even there. A gold medal affair. John Bailey- The Age Newspaper
FUN RUN was a joyous, twisted and highly entertaining event that had a magnetic effect on Melbourne city-goers. Like moths to a flame, shoppers, wedding-parties, skateboarders and tourists flocked to City Square to watch Humphrey’s spectacular, if not extreme, endurance performance. Like rabid sportsfans, the audience became implicated in Humphrey’s physical and psychological journey, standing by as moral supporters and witnesses for a work that interrogated ideas of ritual, endurance, attention-span, community-building, altering states of consciousness, boundaries between public and private, narrative, linearity and transformation. Ulanda Blair, Curator ACMI
FUN RUN was one of the most successful, intriguing acts of public contemporary performance I have seen in a very long time. Fantastically, it bore no frame as “art”, allowing a genuine engagement from completely diverse range of audiences, who explored it for what it was, not what they presumed it to be. It was intriguing, bold and considered contemporary performance, completely accessible to a broad audience. I loved it. Emily Sexton Next Wave Festival Director
Fun Run was spectacular, exciting, amazing, thrilling, and also very gladiatorial. There was an endless rotation of ‘half time’ entertainment: gymnastics, bike riders, slightly scary aerobic ladies and very hot contemporary dancers. Most of all, it was thrilling watching the runner. We wondered if he would survive the grueling 42kilometres (surely he could not? And, also, why is he orange?). As the marathon continued, more and more spellbound people gathered together to watch. The final few kilometres, indeed the final 500 metres, became an intense public experience: a huge crowd of Melbournians literally jumped up and down together, cheering in great celebration of one man’s giant achievement. It was a genuinely euphoric occasion (and also extremely funny). Phip Murray, Director West Space Gallery
Fun Run Creative Team: Tristan Meecham, Bec Reid, Willoh Weiland, Austin Hall, Hannah Cuthbertson, Lara Thoms, Martyn Coutts, Danny Pettingill, Jess Keepence, Bindi Green, Beatrix Coles.
Fun Run Performers: Tristan Meecham, Bec Reid, Mike Steel, Jessica Hynd, Susan Miller, Magdalene Phenomenon, Jamie Caldwell, Jullian Crotti, Stefan Bramble, Clare Best
Community Collaborators: Gymnastics Victoria, Bodyelectric Dance Studios, Melbourne Cheerleading Academy, Melbourne Cheer Academy, Total Rush Cycling.