Previous “Running” posts

Courtney Dauwalter Kicks Ass 

You, too, are stronger than you think.

I run a lot. Last month, I reached my fourth consecutive annual kilomile. And yet, for all that running, the very longest distances I compete in are marathons. 26.2 miles is more than enough for me.

There’s another breed of runners who compete in ultramarathons, races which are 50, 100, 200 miles (and even longer). Courtney Dauwalter is probably the world’s greatest ultrarunner, female or male. How does she do it? Why does she do it?

Outsiders can’t always understand why she would put herself through something like this—or why anyone would. If only they could stand with her on these mountains after a run, out of breath and full of fire, feeling the profound satisfaction that comes from putting one’s body on the line to see how strong one’s mind can be.

That satisfaction is certainly a motivator. But another factor is the persistent exploration of the pain cave, as Mirin Fader details in a tremendous profile for The Ringer. The distances Dauwalter and her fellow adventurers run can seem unfathomable, but the mental battles they wage can be relevant to all of us.

Eliud Kipchoge Flew

Eliud Kipchoge is a marvel.

On Saturday, remarkable runner Eliud Kipchoge did something no human being has ever done before: He ran a marathon in under 2 hours. Kipchoge’s final time was 1:59:40.2, almost 20 seconds faster than the desired mark.

Eliud Kipchoge, triumphant after his successful run

You may recall that Nike attempted this feat with a 2017 event called “Breaking2”. Kipchoge took part in that, along with Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese, but all came up short of the goal. Now, two years later, the Ineos 1:59 Challenge has met with success.

This is, quite simply, an incredible achievement, the distance running equivalent of Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile. Kipchoge’s accomplishment won’t change the marathon world record (which he already holds with a 2:01:39 finish in the 2018 Berlin Marathon), as this was not a sanctioned event. Nevertheless, it shows what’s possible. Just as the record for the fastest mile has continued to drop since Bannister’s 1964 run, I suspect we’ll see a sub-two-hour time in an official marathon in the coming years.

For now though, we should simply celebrate this amazing man, and his amazing achievement. Bravo, Eliud Kipchoge!

Previously in Eliud Kipchoge news: I Believe Eliud Kipchoge Can Fly

Sure, That’s a Thing That Should Exist 

I don't understand the world anymore, but this is at least semi-benignly weird, rather than outright evil.

KFC is really, really, leaning into their own weirdness, and I just can’t stop writing about it. Today, we have news of KFC’s new cooking-and-dating game, “I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator”.

It’s well known that I’m a corgi fan, so if nothing else, I’m definitely liking this Professor Dog they’ve got going on.

Hey, the BAA Did Do the Right Thing

A few weeks after the Boston marathon, its organizers corrected a glaring oversight.

Speaking of marathons, back in May, I wrote about the Boston Marathon failing to award prizes to several of the fastest female finishers.

At this year’s Boston Marathon, 3 women finished in the top 15 fastest times, yet did not receive prize money. The problem is the rather strange eligibility rules for women…I keep hoping the Boston Athletic Association [BAA] will step up and make things right. Perhaps with enough publicity, they’ll spend the extra money to cover double prizes this year, then fix the problem for the 2019 race.

I published the above on May 2. The very next day, the BAA did indeed step up and do the right thing, almost certainly in response to my post.1 The Vox article I originally linked back in May has since been updated, with the following information:

On Thursday [May 3rd], the marathon announced the women would be awarded the prize money anyway.

The Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, said that it will award three women whose times ranked them within the top 15 finishers and two women who finished within the over-40 “Master’s Division” the prize money correspondent to their placements, even though they did not race in the “elite” women’s race. “Given the nature of this year’s race, we want to recognize and celebrate some of the performances that made this year’s race special,” the BAA said in a statement. It also said it would “consider all facts of the race … and any alterations that should be made” in the weeks to come, though it wants to still have a separate race for women.

I missed this announcement back in May, but it’s still worth recognizing now. Well done, BAA.


  1. No. ↩︎

I Believe Eliud Kipchoge Can Fly

I thought I ran pretty fast. No. Eliud Kipchoge is fast.

This past weekend, I ran my first organized race since breaking my foot back in May. I successfully avoided being bitten by a seagull, and also had a pretty good run. During the ~200 mile multi-person relay, I ran 3 separate legs, completing 19.11 miles in 2 hours, 11 minutes, and 58 seconds.

Pretty good, pretty good

As you can see, that works out to a pace of 6:54 per mile. After losing three entire months to my injury, I’d only been back to running for about six weeks, so I was pretty pleased with this. Then, however, I heard about Eliud Kipchoge’s weekend. At Saturday’s Berlin Marathon, the Kenyan distance runner set a new world record when he ran 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds.

Oh. Oh, I see.

Kipchoge ran over 7 miles farther than I did, and he did it in substantially less time. That’s ridiculous. Look at that pace! He ran a mile in 4:38, and then did it 25 more times after that, and then still ran another 2/10ths of a mile! The mind reels.

You probably know a 4:38 mile is fast, but just how fast is it? Well, it would require laps of just 70 seconds around a 400-meter track, which I don’t believe I could manage even once. It’s also 17.5 second 100-meter dashes, which I suspect is around the limit of what I could pull off a single time, at a full-on sprint. My most recent half-marathon placed me in the 98th percentile for speed in the world, yet even as fairly fast distance runner, I could only manage to sustain Kipchoge’s marathon pace for a handful of seconds. The chasm between elite distance runners and the rest of us is vast and humbling.

But even among the elites of the world, Kipchoge seems to be in a class by himself. Setting a new world record is a tremendous accomplishment, but Kipchoge actually managed to obliterate the old record in spectacular fashion. As a record time gets lower, it should naturally be harder to break, and it should be broken by smaller and smaller increments. Instead, Kipchoge’s time shattered the old marathon record by a full 78 seconds, the biggest drop by any man in over half a century. Vernon Loeb had a great Atlantic piece discussing the beauty of this run, which is well worth a read for what it says about human achievement. Eliud Kipchoge is a marvel. His performance shows us the incredible things humans are capable of, while simultaneously making me only just a little ashamed to label myself a “runner”.

But hey, at least both Eliud Kipchoge and I are both faster than Massachusetts traffic.

A traffic sign showing it'll take 78 minutes to drive 11 miles
That’s a pace of over 7 minutes per mile. In a car.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Do the Right Thing, BAA 

The Boston Athletic Association's rules for women's marathon prizes are lousy.

At this year’s Boston Marathon, 3 women finished in the top 15 fastest times, yet did not receive prize money. The problem is the rather strange eligibility rules for women, where only the 50 or so elite starters can earn a prize, even if someone else runs a faster time. As a result, Jessica Chichester (5th place, $15,000), Veronica Jackson (13th place, $1,800), and Rebecca Snelson (14th place, $1,700) are not receiving the prizes they logically deserve.

This story has been kicking around locally since the race over two weeks ago, and I keep hoping the Boston Athletic Association will step up and make things right. Perhaps with enough publicity, they’ll spend the extra money to cover double prizes this year, then fix the problem for the 2019 race.

Update (September 19th, 2018): The BAA did do the right thing, as reflected in edits to the aforelinked article.

Des Linden Kicks Ass

Des Linden won the 2018 Boston Marathon, and she kicks ass.

In miserable rainy weather, American Desiree Linden took the women’s crown in the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon yesterday. It was the first Boston victory by an American woman in 33 years, and it was a hell of a run.

[Photo credit: John Tlumacki/Globe Staff]

In a post-race interview, Linden stated that early on in the run, she felt it likely she would drop out. With this in mind, she decided to help her countrywoman Shalane Flanagan by bringing her back with the leaders after Flanagan took a brief restroom break. That act of sportsmanship got Linden back into her own groove, and she eventually took over the race lead around mile 22. From that point on, she literally never looked back, winning the race by over 4 minutes.

🥃 Cheers, Des! You’ve earned this.

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston 

My pal Peter Bromka is an elite amateur runner, who’s run multiple sub-2:30 marathons. In honor of today’s Boston Marathon, here’s a link to his recent piece in Runner’s World on what the race has meant to him.

Shalane Flanagan Kicks Ass 

On November 5th, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years. She managed this feat while also spending years nurturing a culture of support in women’s distance running, one which will hopefully pay dividends for years to come.

Flanagan does not just talk about elevating women; she elevates them. And they win.

Flanagan’s victory in New York City was incredible, but it’s far from the whole story.

The Other Boston Marathon 

I’ve run marathons, long-distance road relays, and races, often in goofy costumes. I’m also an enormous fan of the Boston Red Sox, and Fenway Park. Despite all that, this still sounds like the most miserable event in the world to me.