Tag: Meter Magazine

AMERICAN MASTER MEB SAYS SO LONG

 

Meb after 2009 NYC win

On that bright but chilly (38°F) November morning, I had the catbird seat aboard the NBC lead men’s TV motorcycle as the 2002 New York City Marathon entered its critical stage coming off the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16.  The final pace-setter, the metronomic Joseph Kariuki of Kenya, had just pulled off leaving the pack edgy, crackling with energy as Manhattan’s First Avenue stretched ahead like a provocation with all the history, speed, and power it portended.  Amidst the lead group ran marathon debutant Meb Keflezighi, the U.S. record holder at 10,000 meters (27:13). The day before Meb’s long-time coach Bob Larsen told me Meb would go with the pace until First Avenue then decide what to do.

The resurrection of American distance running had begun to take shape in that fall of 2002. Following successful maiden marathons by Dan Browne at Twin Cities (1st, 2:11:35) then Alan Culpepper in Chicago (6th, 2:09:41, tying Alberto Salazar’s American d­­­­­­ebut record from New York 1980) the anticipation for Meb’s debut in New York City was running sky high.

Sweeping off the bridge first sped Rodgers Rop of Kenya, third in NYC the year before, and reigning Boston Marathon champion.  By 66th Street Rop had a five-second gap, leaving remnants of the pack receding like fading dust motes.  Mile 17 fell in 4:36.

Realizing the danger, Boston runner-up Christopher Cheboiboch, 2:06:33 South African Gert Thys, and Kenyan deb Laban Kipkemboi bridged up to cover Rop’s move. And then Meb came rushing up hard from behind to join the fray.  Decision made!  He was going! The crowd bellowed its approval.  Next, amidst a 4:40 18th mile, Meb surged to the front, not satisfied just to answer, he was anxious to dictate policy.

“I remembered that Salazar had won New York in his debut,” recalled Meb years later.  “And maybe I got too emotional.”

Rodgers Rop went on to win that 2002 race in New York in 2:08:07 to join Bill Rodgers (1978 & `79), Alberto Salazar (1982) and Joseph Chebet (1994) as the only men to win Boston and New York in the same year (in 2011 Geoffrey Mutai would join the club).

Meb took a full 35 minutes and change for his final 10K (5:40/mi. pace).  Chilled to the bone, he arrived in ninth place in 2:12:35. Afterwards, his mother Awetash made him swear he would never do THAT again. (more…)

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HARD CUTS

Fell Running
                 Fell Running

In Tracksmith’s inaugural quarterly, Meter, there was a fine story about what’s called ‘fell running’ in Northern England, which author Andy Waterman described as “a lot like trail running, only without the trails.”

I found Andy’s article particularly intriguing, because it reminded me of an urban expression of the same free-form philosophy that a few of us back in Boston in the days of yore sought to capture. While we didn’t have Northern England’s bleak desolation, as Andy put it, “all windswept moorland and steep-sided post-industrial valleys” to range over, we did have the serpentine streets and environs of Boston to negotiate, along with cemeteries, college campuses, and even the odd arboretum at our disposal.

Based on the premise that ‘shorts cuts don’t cut it’ in a sport defined by effort, and faced with New England’s wintry clime, we hearty band of running brothers began – without even knowing it at the time – a style of training that took the challenges of our sport and the season head on. (more…)

THE ELIOT LOUNGE PRE-BOSTON MARATHON 1978

MeterMagazineIn recent months my friend Matt Taylor has launched a new clothing line called TrackSmith whose influences harken back to a simpler, more rudimentary time in the sport.  Among the projects associated with TrackSmith, Matt has come out with a new running publication called Meter.

I am proud to be among the contributors tor the inaugural issue of Meter, providing a look back at the legendary Eliot Lounge, that long lost and fabled runner’s bar in Boston’s Back Bay which shuttered its doors in 1996.

Yesterday, Matt put up on Twitter an audio clip I sent him from my old Runner’s Digest radio show in Boston that aired from 1977 to 1988. In this clip we find ourselves inside the Eliot on the Thursday night before the 1978 Boston Marathon. The place was teeming with runners from around the world as our favorite band, Heidi and The Secret Admirers, was closing the night in style.

As Heidi kicked off her final encore at about 1 a.m., Ian Gamble, a motor racing promoter from Auckland, New Zealand — who also organized New Zealand’s Choysa Marathon — made an offer to Greater Boston Track Club star Randy Thomas who is now the long time track and cross country coach at Boston College.

If you want to know what it felt like to be in the Hub of the running universe at the height of the running boom, perhaps the four minute clip below will give you a taste.

Eliot Lounge Meter Mag