FRIDAY IN THE PARK WITH MEB

San Diego, Ca. — It’s been a busy week on top of a busy year for 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi.  After accepting two awards this past week, one last Friday night at the TRIpalooza Awards Gala where he was recognized as the Endurance Athlete of the Year, and the other on Monday night when he was honored as a 2015 Star of the Year at the 69th Annual Salute to the Champions event hosted by the San Diego Hall of Champions, Meb was once again the center of attention this morning as the countdown to the April 20th Boston Marathon gains momentum.

Photog Emily Maye taking aim at Meb doing post-run drills

Photog Emily Maye taking aim at Meb doing post-run drills

Today it was just a quiet photo shoot for Meter Magazine, the literate broadsheet and digital offering brought out by Tracksmith, the premium performance apparel company started by my friend Matt Taylor in Boston that celebrates the style and culture of running.

In the next issue of Meter Meb will be featured in a story I penned, so photog extraordinaire Emily Maye drove down from her home in Santa Barbara last night for the morning shoot in Balboa Park. Emily spends much of her time in Europe covering the cycling circuit, but is also responsible for most of the excellent photography featured in Meter.

As is almost always the case, even when pressed from this side and that, Meb was generous with his time and patience. This morning’s run was a no frills 10-mile recovery run as he looks ahead to the United New York City Half Marathon on March 15th, his sole test before he defends his title in Boston a month later. But I can tell you from a simple eyeball test, Meb looks to be in fine form. Continue reading

ON THE ROAD 1994: LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK

surfers-paradise       Friday 15 July 1994 – Surfer’s Paradise, Australia

      Following a 10 a.m. press conference at the Hyatt Hotel for the weekend’s Gold Coast Marathon, the entire crew loaded up for the ninety minute drive to Lamington National Park along the border of New South Wales.

Passing inland south from the Gold Coast of Queensland the countryside beyond became a tufted brown patchwork as rolling hills lifted the land with each passing mile.  All along the way idly grazing cattle dotted the properties around corrugated-roofed ranch houses outlined by shaded verandas. With little more than a squint one could easily imagine being back in the American Southwest at the turn of the 20th century.

Our destination was O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat at the top of the park, a three-generation business which anchored the area’s tourist economy. After a concluding thirty-six kilometer switchback ascent to O’Reilly’s, we arrived high atop the rainforest at an altitude of 7,000 feet.

Overhead the sun hung glazed amongst a formation of cumulus clouds with not a mote of pollution to filter the rays. Yet within the shade of the forest the air reminded us of the season at hand.

Rope bridgeRope ladder    We bounded along Indiana Jones-like bridges stretched 50 feet above the brush. Through mesh-encircled ladders we climbed another twenty meters into the treetops, gazing over branches to a lawn of trees stretching to the Richmond Mountain range fifty kilometers to the horizon.

Birds of exploding blues, reds and greens passed close by as winter’s sun began to relinquish its hold, pushed by a rising moon covetous of the cool evening sky. Told of a lovely waterfall by a family of locals, we hustled to the van for the one kilometer drive down the road leading to it before the sun fully set. Once at the trail head American mile record holder Steve Scott and I lit out down the winding path.

The dense tree cover further chilled the light. Our pace met it head on, maintaining an even warmth as we wound down and through the arch of quadruple canopy. Behind came our crew: producer Rich Jayne, along with cameramen Dale Wong, Tom Wall, and Jim ?, equipment in tow, but falling behind the strong pace Steve was setting.  Like a shade being drawn, the darkness descended with each passing curve as fewer and fewer swatches of light managed to evade the enveloping cover.

After fifteen minutes we began to make out the slightest whisper of moving water in the distance to our left. Continue reading

BRRC: GONE BUT IRREPLACEABLE

Bill & Patti Lyons post-Marathon at BRRC

Bill Rodgers  & Patti Dillon post-Boston Marathon at BRRC

*

The spirit of the Boston Marathon can’t be measured in a single day, even if that day is Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.  Thus, the post-race celebration would always run over to at least the following day — though often much longer.  And for many that would include a pilgrimage to the Bill Rodgers Running Center at Quincy Market in the shadow of Faneuil Hall where so much of the Revolutionary fervor had been stoked. Continue reading

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

Winter Map    As the Hercules storm mounts the eastern seaboard, I am reminded that there once was a time when I loved running in the cold.  Not the piercing cold many around the country are currently experiencing, rather anything right around freezing when, after about ten minutes to get the blood flowing and system up to speed,  the feeling of well-being begins to spread like a juicy rumor in a closed-minded crowd.  Yes, that experience had a very specific charm about it all its own. Even better, with so many other primates remaining indoors to avoid the cold, more of this pristine real estate was left for me to explore at pace.

But like New Year’s Eve drinking, you had to know when to say when, because a sudden change in conditions (i.e. John Law) could lead to real difficulties, as I learned one unfortunate winter’s morn when I took off on an ill-conceived out-and-back twelve miler from my Boston apartment. Continue reading

GOLF SHOT

Mid Pac CC

Mid Pac CC

December 1997.  After a decent but rough-finding 3-wood drive on the Mid Pac Country Club’s 378-yard par 4 ninth — a deceptively long and testy hole that, as usual, was playing into a strong trade wind — I found myself facing a 165 yard second shot blocked by a row of tall pine trees.

Continue reading

“HAPPY WEDNESDAY” AT DUFF’S

Duff's Restaurant, St. Louis

Duff’s Restaurant, St. Louis

This isn’t a running story other than I ran that day.  In fact, I did a rare double.  But running isn’t central to the memory, though perhaps a catalyst.

In August 1973 I moved from my hometown of St. Louis to begin a new life in Boston.  It was there that I took up running before combining it with broadcasting to mount what has become a career.

But during my final full year in St. Louis I found myself hanging out at a new restaurant/pub in the Central West End called Duff’s, eponymously named by its original proprietors Karen and Dan Duffy.  In the ensuing years, though I only visited home once, sometimes twice a year, every trip would include a visit to Duff’s.   Not just because old friend, and one-time fellow Bostonian Charlie Moseley bartended there for 25 years or so, or that his partner Nancy Kirby was the hostess, or that Nancy’s brother Tim had joined Karen Duffy as co-owner, or even that Tim, Charlie and I had attended St. Louis U. High together in the mid-1960s.

Barside at Duff's

Barside at Duff’s

No, it was more than that.  Perhaps something generational, as Duff’s came along as we Baby Boomers were reaching early adulthood, and like every generation was beginning to scout out its own territory.  Just as Boston’s Eliot Lounge would become synonymous with the running era, so was Duff’s a new kind of establishment for a new kind of crowd.

Though it  offered an inventive, seasonally changing menu, a splendidly stocked bar, family-like staff, and such a warm bohemian atmosphere — including its famous Monday night poetry readings — those high pressed-tin ceilings, wide wooden floors and exposed brick walls felt more like an extension of people’s homes than a place of business. Over the years our family (I’m sure like many others) celebrated births, graduations, anniversaries, and even wakes there, and never felt anything other than perfectly at home.

A few days ago another old St. Louis friend emailed saying Duff’s would be closing at the end of the month after a run of 41 years.  While it is the nature of restaurants to open and close, for tastes to change, and neighborhoods to transform, as I read the email I was flooded with memories while being reminded of what a single establishment could mean to a city and it s people.

Continue reading

WHEN WORLD CROSS FIRST CAME TO POLAND

Bydgoszcz, Poland

Bydgoszcz, Poland

Tomorrow, Poland will host the IAAF World Cross Country Championships for a third time, the second in four years in the city of Bydgoszcz.  But in 1987 the Polish capital of Warsaw held the honor, and I attended as a radio and newspaper reporter from Boston.

Since it would be my first visit to Poland, I also brought along my mother from St. Louis, as she was a native Pole whose extended family still lived in the homeland. And though Perestroika had begun to unravel the Soviet apparatus to the east under Gorbachev, Poland remained locked in the long winter of Soviet domination, a full two years before spring revolutions would loosen the Communist grip once and for all.

The following is just one memory from my first trip to the a country long savaged by war, then demeaned by its outcome. Continue reading