Falmouth, MA. — 42nd New Balance Falmouth Road Race from the announcer’s vantage point
Falmouth, Ma. — Last year a multitude of fans and friends celebrated Falmouth Road Race founder Tommy Leonard‘s 80th birthday with a big surprise party at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel. This year it was back to business as usual. Last night Tommy was in his element hard along the bar at the Quarterdeck Restaurant on Main Street as old friends and new acolytes alike helped him toast his 81st birthday. As people wandered in to sign up for his 24th annual Falmouth Walk Saturday morning, like the pope of Falmouth Tommy sat atop his bar stool greeting visitors from far and wide.
“I cant’ hear anymore, and I can’t see,” said Tommy amidst sips from a savory brew. “But I can still laugh.”
Among those on hand were the girls of the Pittsfield, Mass. High School cross country team, led by their coach Theresa Apple. As the bar clogged and laughter rose, you could hear many a tall tale being told about the lovable guru of the Falmouth Road Race, and ex-barman of the legendary Eliot Lounge in Boston. But through it all Coach Apple’s story came as close to explaining the quality that has made T.L. such a rare paragon of the sport. Continue reading
As civil unrest continues to tear apart my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in the aftermath of last Saturday’s shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, I ran across a story I wrote, but never published, in 1996 back before personal blogs were around for just these kind of closely-held thoughts.
(Note: this is not a running related post, so you may bail out here with that information in hand)
Back in the mid-1990s the country was in the opposing throes of the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson verdicts while trying to digest the meaning and value of the Million Man March. In the ensuing years many other challenges and difficulties, both domestic and international, have arisen on the track of public consciousness. But through it all, and here again with the suddenness of a piercing bullet, the issue of race has erupted to remind us how it remains the central hurdle in America’s path toward the fulfillment of her founding charter.
40 years ago today I arrived in Boston in a white, right-hand drive post office van as Richard Nixon was departing Washington in a green Chinook Marine helicopter. At age 26 I was escaping a failed marriage while at age 61 Nixon was fleeing a disgraced presidency.
Like Nixon I hadn’t a plan or a job to speak of, and held no prospects. Unlike the dishonored ex-president I had nothing beyond the unalloyed confidence of youth and the unbounded belief of my generation that ours was a crossroads cohort, fated to a new set of values fostering brotherhood, unity and integrity.
It had taken me two days to drive the 1178 miles from my hometown of St. Louis, and as I pulled up in front of 61 Empire Street in the Allston section of Boston, the Allman Brothers hit Ramblin’ Man poured from my stereo like an ally of the warm summer sun.
My new home lay about a mile north of Harvard Square just a block off the Mass Turnpike. Up on the corner at North Harvard Street sat the Merit Gas station where I had worked part-time the previous fall to make ends meet while on a five-month visit. But this time I was here to stay, so no gas station work for me. Besides, the Arab oil embargo was in full swing, and the lines out the station sometimes stretched for block after block.
Now, as I turned off the sturdy slant-six motor of my reconverted van, my new roommate, Patrick, bounded down the stoop with a joint fired up.
“Hey, Reavis!” he said, extending the sweet-scented memory cleanser to me from behind a wide grin. “Welcome to Boston.” Continue reading
It is back to Southern California today after our annual week in Maine for the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. On our final day in the Pinetree state Toya and I joined our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson on a day trip to New Harbor, Bristol, Brunswick and Christmas Cove in South Bristol. Here are some of the sights.
There is no champion like time itself. Nothing moves as swiftly, nor as relentlessly. It will outrun us all one day. Yet it is hard to believe it has been thirty years since Joan Benoit won the inaugural Women’s OIympic Marathon in Los Angeles, California August 5, 1984. But calendars are rather dispassionate, not in the habit of subjective reckoning.
In the dark ages before the internet, or wide spread coverage of running, when Joan raced to a 2:22:43 win at the 1983 Boston Marathon — nearly three minutes faster than Norwegian great Grete Waitz’s world record set the day before in London at 2:25:29 — there were many who chose to believe there were other factors in play beyond the steely-eyed drive and talent of the Cape Elizabeth, Maine native.
This past week as Joanie welcomed thousands of runners to her 17th TD Beach to Beacon 10K, the hometown race she founded that traverses one of her old training loops, it is particularly timely to look back to where we stood those 30 years ago when women were about to first express their talents over the classic Olympic running distance. Continue reading
Cape Elizabeth, ME. — The sport of road racing, especially here in New England where the tradition is so deeply-seated, has always been much more than simply a competition from Point A to Point B. In the olden days before money and sponsors came into the sport at current levels road trips and shared housing was the standard. Thus one of the throwback pleasures of Joanie Samuelson’s TD Beach to Beacon 10K in her hometown of Cape Elizabeth, Maine is the tradition of housing invited athletes and guests with local families. This was the 14th year that we have been lucky enough to return to the home of Bill and Linda Nickerson, who have become dear friends over those years, as have their children Julie and Geoff. That feeling is universal among the professional athletes who cherish an invitation to this most quintessential of New England races. Throughout the weekend the pre and post-race activities are a reflection of the family atmosphere Joanie has engendered. The pictures below give a taste of the quality of what has made the New England running community so special through the years, and why an invite to the TD B2B is so highly prized.