New York, N. Y. — Well, here we are together again, New York, New York with two huge races looming ahead. One we can’t wait for, the other we can’t wait to be over.
One pits fields of finely tuned athletes against one another in a long 42 km grind through the five boroughs of the city. The other pits two BMI challenged pols in a death match march through the electoral map of 50 states.
Personally, I feel like a runner in the final kilometers of a marathon on a bad day. I am psychologically blistered, emotionally cramping, and I have election year chafing in places that gentlemen just don’t speak about. And I fear that the bleeding nipples of despair may lie just around the corner.
Thank God, the 46th TCS New York City Marathon (40th for five-borough course) arrives first on Sunday to grab our attention and tire us out a bit. Continue reading →
Running fast behind pacers is a thoughtless act. You know what’s coming — in fact, it’s been negotiated — and you can either do it or you can’t. But there is no thought required as there is in a pure racing format like the Olympic Games.
Matthew Centrowitz and Nick Willis celebrate Olympic glory
One of the many highlights of the Rio Games was Matthew Centrowitz’s stirring front-running win in the men’s 1500 meter final. Yet, historic as it was — first American to take that title since 1908– there are some who question the standard of that gold medal run, because the 3:50 winning time was the slowest since the 1932 final.
Notwithstanding the Olympic motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, such time-based considerations miss the entire point of the endeavor, and help define what’s missing in the staging and presentation of the sport in general. Continue reading →
Among Bill’s points was “We need a Ross Tucker type (Science of Sport) to give us their input. What is the EXTRA time EPO gives a sea-level born marathoner and an altitude-born marathoner? Is it a 5% factor? Fun to speculate. ”
I e-mailed Ross in South Africa after my talk with Bill, and only now have heard back. As Ross explains, he has had a very busy opening to 2015. In any case, we greatly appreciate Ross’s thoughtful response, and hope that it assists in our more fully understanding excellence in today’s very competitive world of distance running.
The 2015 marathon year began where 2014 left off with Kenyans and Ethiopians sweeping the top places at the Xiamen Marathon in China. Moses Mosop, the big-engine Kenyan who had such an explosive 2011 campaign — but who had been beset by injury and personal issues in the last few years — returned to form in Xiamen with a course record 2:06:19 win.
2 Tilahun Regassa (ETH) 2:06:54
3 Abrha Milaw (ETH) 2:08:09
4 Robert Kwambai (KEN) 2:08:18
5 Tadese Tola (ETH) 2:10:30
Mare Dibaba goes sub-2:20 in Xiamen (Jiang Kehong photo)
On the women’s side, Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba continued her success from 2014 when she also began the year with a win in Xiamen before showing third in Boston then placing second in Chicago — though those places will likely move up one notch once the Rita Jeptoo drug positive has been adjudicated. Dibaba went 2:19:52 in Xiamen yesterday to destroy her competition & post the event’s first female sub-2:20.
In this excerpt from the archives of my old Runners Digest Radio show in Boston, we go on-the-run with marathon legend Bill Rodgers, four-time Boston and New York City Marathon champion of the mid-to-late 1970s. During our run Bill talks about his transition from ex-college runner to resurrected marathon runner.
Bill Rodgers, 2:09:55 American Record, Boston 1975
In the aftermath of World War II many nations had to dig out of devastation, left with the psychic remains of shattered lives. My mother was one who saw her world destroyed, but was fortunate to find refuge in America, which sat alone and free. This gave her Baby Boom children the freedom to dedicate themselves to youthful ways well into their adult years. While the youth of today remain at home much longer , Boomers had the luxury to remain more infantile longer.
When I moved from St. Louis to Boston in August of 1973, I shared a two-bedroom, one bath apartment with three friends. We paid $160/month, $40 each. I had just left Washington University in St. Louis, a well-regarded liberty arts institution. In looking through some old papers in the attic of my parent’s house 40 years later I found a receipt for my final semester from the early 1970s, $1250.
Today, the same apartment that we paid $160 for in Boston is now $1525/month, while a semester at Wash. U. in St. Louis is $22,420 and rising.
Could this be why American kids in the 21st century seek less strident forms of release?
“No man working 40-hours a week will ever beat me in a marathon.” – Four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers.
After winning the 1975 Boston Marathon in an American record 2:09:55, Bill Rodgers returned to his job as a special education teacher. He’d been a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and carried a sense of societal responsibility common to his generation. But when his principal kept asking if it was really necessary that he train during his lunch break, Bill knew he had to choose. He followed the path to running history, winning three more Bostons, four New Yorks and a Fukuoka (Japan).
Today, the depth of distance running talent is far greater than in Rodger’s era, and to say the world’s top runners live all but monastic lives to prepare for their major competitions is being generous to monks. And yet, defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya has recently taken on a responsibility that would leave even the affable Mr. Rodgers shaking his head in disbelief. Continue reading →
Boston Billy after 1978 at the center of the whirlwind
Man isn’t just a pattern-seeking animal, he is a goal-setting beast. From breaking the four-minute mile to putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth, we have constantly striven to outdo our forefathers. Accordingly, we have seen the standards of excellence mount with an almost linear progression through the course of time.
Today, the marathon performances of the Running Boom champions seem almost quaint by today’s standards, as far from world class as the exploits of their own predecessors seemed during their time in the sun. At this year’s 117th Boston Marathon, five of its greatest champions from the Boom era will return to celebrate the anniversaries of their winning moments. Continue reading →