TOMMY LEONARD CELEBRATES 81ST BIRTHDAY

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

Tommy Leonard with Pittsfield, Ma. Hi School girls cross country team

 

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

FERGUSON, MO. – THE GAP BETWEEN LIVING AND STAYING

Unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

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.

Continue reading

IN THE BEGINNING

Arriving in Boston August 10, 1974

Arriving in Boston August 10, 1974

 

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

2014 MAINE TRAVELS

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.

 

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Pemaquid Lighthouse

Entrance to Pemaquid Lighthouse

Entrance

Spiraling up Pemaquid Lighthouse

Spiraling up

1000-watt lamp in Pemaquid Lighthouse

1000-watt lamp in Pemaquid Lighthouse

View from Pemaquid Light

View out to Pemaquid Point

Old life preserver

Old life preserver

New Harbor dock

New Harbor dock

Lobster boat

Lobster boat

Maine coast cottage

Maine coast cottage

Phonetics

Phonetics

Clams, anyone?

Clams, anyone?

Lobster Roll?

Lobster Roll and Chowdah?

Christmas Cove, South Bristol

Christmas Cove, South Bristol

Toya, Bill & Linda

Toya, Bill & Linda… See you next year.

REMEMBERING JOANIE, LOS ANGELES 1984

A Win for the Ages

A Win for the Ages

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

FAMILY AFFAIR AT TD BEACH TO BEACON 10K

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.

Our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson

Our hosts Bill & Linda Nickerson

Toya with Hawi Keflezighi and brother Meb's host family Bill & Deena DeSena at Lobster Bake

Toya with Meb’s brother Hawi Keflezighi and host family Bill & Dena DeSena at the post-race Lobster Bake

Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezghi with Julie Nickerson

Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezghi (wearing his Boston Strong scarf) with Julie Nickerson

Ethiopian star Markos Geneti with his family who he hadn't seen since April

Ethiopian star Markos Geneti made B2B a reunion as he hadn’t been with his family since April.  He finished 8th on Saturday

Joanie's coach from back in the day, Bob Sevene, with race director par excellence Dave McGillivray

“Uh-huh,” thinks race director par excellence Dave McGillivray as he reminisces with Joanie’s coach from back in the day Bob Sevene

The main course

The main course clinging to the cob

B2B legacy runner Jeff Berman (he's run all 17) with Ethiopia's Patrick Makau, 4th in 2014 B2B and former marathon world record holder who ran his first B2B

B2B legacy runner Jeff Berman (he’s run all 17) hosted Kenya’s Patrick Makau, the former marathon world record holder who ran 4th in his first B2B 10K

Top end bean bag competition at Jeff an Kerri Berman's party

Top notch bean bag competition at Jeff and Kerri Berman’s post-race party

Hanging on the wall at "Beach to Bacon", the annual gathering at Kirk and Nancy Pond's place

Hanging on the wall at “Beach to Bacon”, Kirk and Nancy Pond’s annual race day gathering as the ice cream truck draws a crowd along the lane

B2B's oldest finisher Dotti Gray, 89, of Kirkwood, Missouri with daughter Mary (left) and daughter-in-law Karen Bauer both of whom live in Cape Elizabeth

Beneath the Pond’s party tent at Beach to Bacon, B2B 10K’s oldest finisher Dottie Gray, 89, of Kirkwood, Missouri  — multiple time Johnny Kelley Award winner — flanked by daughter Mary (left) and daughter-in-law Karen Bauer both of whom live in Cape Elizabeth

Beach to Bacon treats

Beach to Bacon treats are a sweet but sticky hit

The boys found their way to the ice ream truck, too

The boys found their way to the ice ream truck and face painter, too

Such faces

Such faces!

BAA executive director Tom Grilk with board member Gloria Ratti, wife Nancy, and Joanie at Candace Karu's host family party

Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk with BAA board member Gloria Ratti, wife Nancy, and Joanie at Candace Karu’s host family welcome party

Bob Barnaby (left) with hostess Candace Karu and Paul Daley

Bob Barnaby (left) with Spring Cove hostess Candace Karu listening to another tall tale from Paul “The Ghost” Daley

Close neighbors at Bill and Linda Nickerson's place

Close neighbors chatting us up at Bill and Linda Nickerson’s place off Shore Road along mile 4 of the race course

The source of unending entertainment who take so little room, Mini Nickerson

The source of unending entertainment who takes up so little room, Mini Nickerson

Big tent at post-race Lobster Bake

Big tent at post-race Lobster Bake

Another wonderful year at the TD Beach to Beacon. Thanks to Cape Elizabeth for being such gracious hosts.  Till 2015...

Another wonderful year at the TD Beach to Beacon 10K. Thanks to Joanie and Cape Elizabeth for being such gracious hosts. Till 2015…

END