Falmouth, Mass. — 150 to 200 of Tommy Leonard’s best friends surprised him with an early 80th birthday party last night at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel as the 41st New Balance Falmouth Road Race weekend got under way on old Cape Cod. For those too young to know, it was Tommy who founded the Falmouth Road Race in 1973 after watching Frank Shorter win the Olympic Marathon in Munich 1972.
During Frank’s gold medal run Tommy watched in rapt attention while bartending at the now defunct Brothers Four on Falmouth Heights. A long-time runner himself, Tommy was so inspired by Frank that just one year later he welcomed 92 starters to the first Falmouth Road Race to raise funds for the Falmouth Girls Track Club. By year three Tommy had lured his hero to Falmouth to take on growing local legend Bill Rodgers.
The Shorter vs. Rodgers rivalry on the Cape — Frank won in 1975 &`76, Bill took revenge in `77 & `78 — helped Falmouth become the Great American Road Race which assisted mightily in spreading the running Boom throughout the country.
“My heart is going a million miles an hour,” Tommy said when he saw the host of people stand and cheer at his arrival last night. And from there it was one story after another recalling the life of a man whose passion for running and heart of gold has enriched the life of thousands upon thousands while elevating the sport of road running to heights few would have thought possible when he first began dreaming. Continue reading
In order to get involved in the sport of road racing you have to get past certain things, like parental admonishments about not playing in the streets, or not standing up in the back of moving vehicles. While those seem like fine cautions, playing in the streets is essentially the definition of road racing, while standing up in the back of a moving vehicle is how one reports on it. Besides, most of what parents admonished us not to do is exactly what they ended up doing for fun once we were sent off to bed or shipped off to camp.
This is not to suggest that the entirety of Mom and Pop’s dictates were off base. As a rule one should not play in the streets nor stand in the back of vehicles unless there are a lot of people in short pants pinning on race numbers in the vicinity – or you see bulls trampling through the streets of Pamplona, Spain. Even then, I have a sense that if running weren’t the politically connected sport that it is, it would be laughed out of every parade permit hearing in the land. In fact, if the authorities took even a passing look at the situation, or more specifically the insurance industry understood what was going on, there wouldn’t be press trucks. Continue reading
`65 Mustang Pace Car
While the eyes of the running world will focus on the New York Mini 10k and the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City this Saturday June 11, a small new road race will be touring the Falmouth, Massachusetts waterfront at the same time on Cape Cod. Staged by long-time Falmouth Road Race co-directors Rich and Kathy Sherman, the inaugural Falmouth Flag Day 5k Run/Walk To Benefit the Falmouth Military Support Group will kick off Saturday, June 11, at 10 a.m.
“We didn’t want our 76 years of directing experience to go to waste,” Rich said. “The Carrolls (John & Lucia) were ready to retire, but we are still very active with our businesses, and did not want people to think we are retired. Also, we wanted to use our experience for the good of our community, so this is a perfect choice.” Continue reading