Casey Neistat Documents His Long Sisyphean Effort to Run a Marathon in Less Than Three Hours

In a really inspiring video, the ever-experimental vlogger Casey Neistat shared his long and personal Sisyphean dream of running a marathon in less than three hours and the incredible effort he put into making it come true. The idea formed while Neistat was recovering from a devastating scooter accident in 2007. A steel rod was implanted to replace his broken femur. The doctors told him that he would never run again.

The doctor said I’d mostly recover but they made it clear I’d never run again. … and then in that moment I thought I would heal and I’d run a marathon and I’d do it in the impossible time of under 3 hours. 

After a full recovery, Neistat began running a series of marathons across the United States, improving his running times with each one. He often came close to his goal, but wasn’t able break three hours. He found that he either had to accept this or push himself more.

Why was this so hard? talking about a margin of less than 2 minutes moreover, why do I care anymore? It’s not about a broken leg or needing to prove that doctor wrong. I have now run two dozen marathons. At age 42, I had just run the fastest marathon of my entire life. …I don’t need to break 3 hours to know who I am. What matters are the experiences, the journey, even if I failed in the goal.

He chose the latter, working with a Olympic runner and coach Roberto Mandje to help him reach his goal, which he did in 2023 (time 2:57) in Tucson, Arizona.

You don’t just give up. …You do a lot of meaningless, purposeless stupid things. You get obsessed, you spend years focused on them and literally no one cares but you but you persevere anyway. You keep running. You don’t quit. You die trying, because when when you add up all those stupid, meaningless obsessions and accomplishments, what they equal, what they add up to, is your life.

Sisyphus and the Impossible Dream

This kind of thinking tracks very much with the words of Albert Camus, author of The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays.

The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.