The Milton Marathon at ETSU had 370 attendees this year, which was the highest recorded number for this student-led event, beating last marathon’s record by over 100 attendees.
The marathon took place Nov. 17 in the D.P. Culp University Center, where students, faculty and the general public listened to and read the 10,000 plus verses of John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”
It began at 9 a.m. and officially ended at 6:43 p.m.
The reading took place in a lecture hall, where readers would sit in the center pit at the front of the room, each taking turns in a counter-clockwise order.
“What’s great so far is we’ve had a nice mixture of students, faculty and community members reading already and coming and being a part of it,” said Josh Reid, a professor in the ETSU Department of Literature and Language.
Reid supervised the marathon and made sure everything flowed smoothly, though the students did most of the work with the promotion and organization of the event.
Rare books of “Paradise Lost” were displayed in the back, some dating back to the 17th century. They were very well preserved, though some yellowing had of course occurred. Participants were permitted to touch the pages and feel the thick paper of time’s past.
All of these books belonged to Reid’s personal collection.
The students in Reid’s Milton class had created some inspired art themselves, including poetry. These were also on display along with the books.
Reid and his class spent 12 weeks studying Milton’s 12 books. They finished Nov. 15, just two days before the Milton Marathon.
“The reason why we’re going to break records and have one of the best attendance for an event like this in the whole nation is because of the student zeal our students have,” Reid said.
Some of the students had already read “Paradise Lost” before taking Reid’s Milton class, but for some students, this was their first time reading it all the way through.
“Reading it the second time, I liked it better than the first,” said student Lanesa Bowman. “It’s dense, but it’s really rich”
Reid and his students had a great time participating in this event. Some of the students read aloud more than once, and many of them wore black Milton Marathon t-shirts.
The Milton Marathon will return to ETSU in two years, and Reid, as well as the students, hope the program will only continue to grow.