Previous “Running” posts

Molly Seidel Kicks Ass 

“(Except, uh, then she set the American course record, so…)”

Yesterday, all-around bad-ass Molly Seidel toed the line for her first marathon in a year and a half. She had an impressive race, finishing in 8th place among women, and setting a new personal best of 2:23:07.1 That’s 5:28 per mile, for over 26 straight miles.

In February 2020, just before the pandemic, Seidel ran her very first marathon. It just so happened to be the US Olympics Trials, and her stunning second-place finish netted her a spot on the US Olympic team. A year later, when the COVID-delayed Olympics were finally held in Tokyo, Seidel again shocked the world by taking home the bronze medal. Since she literally roared across that finish line, Molly Seidel has found herself in the spotlight, amassing hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and a place in the hearts of countless runners.2

That’s all incredible, and yet these exceptional results are not the reason Seidel kicks ass. She should be feted instead for her willingness to bare herself before the world. Shortly before her Chicago race, Runner’s World published a tremendous profile on Molly Seidel. She’s been open about her substantial mental health struggles, which she delved into in that piece.

“I’m this incredibly flawed person who struggles so much. I think: How could I have won this thing when I’m so flawed? I look at all the people around me, all these accomplished people who have their shit together, and I’m like, ‘one of these things is not like the other,’” she says, taking a sip of her flat white. “I was literally in the Olympic Village thinking: Everybody is probably looking at me wondering: Why the hell is she here?”

They weren’t. They don’t. She knows that.

And yet her mind races as fast as she does. It takes up So. Much. Space. When she’s running, though, the noise disappears. She’s not Olympic Molly or Eating Disorder Molly, she’s not even, really, Runner Molly. “When I’m running,” she says, “I’m the most authentic version of myself.”

I’ve felt fortunate to see Seidel as we both ran around Boston, and to share a few words with her at the Falmouth Road Race. She’s an incredible inspiration, and as the wise folks at Puma know, that will remain true even if she never places again. Do yourself a favor, and read Rachel Levin’s article.


  1. It was a hell of a day in Chicago, with records falling across multiple categories. Most notably, the new men’s marathon world record belongs to Kelvin Kiptum, whose blazing fast 2:00:35 cut 34 seconds off Eliud Kipchoge’s previous record. That’s 4:36s. Someone’s going to break 2 hours in an official race soon, and it’s going to be incredible.↩︎

  2. That inspiring video is archived here. ↩︎

The Cheater’s Marathon 

26.2 miles IS really far, though.

One need look no further than the infamous Rosie Ruiz to know that people cheat in marathons. Nowadays, however, timing mats placed along the course can at least verify that runners correctly crossed various checkpoints. Marathon course-cutting can still happen, but it’s generally rare. As such, this is very difficult to believe:

Mexico City Marathon organizers have disqualified 11,000 runners for cheating, after trackers revealed participants had been cutting out sections of the course.

The Mexico City Marathon is a massive organized event, with around 30,000 participants. The idea that 1/3 of the entrants cheated seems a bit far-fetched. An alternate explanation could be that one (or more) of the mid-race mats failed, though you would hope that officials have analyzed the data well enough to dismiss that possibility. I’d certainly like to better understand just what happened here.

Still, this massive disqualification is not without precedent in Mexico. The very same race has had issues before:

In 2017, 6,000 runners were denied their finishers medals after participants were found to have not completed the full course.

The same thing happened again the following year, when a further 3,090 participants were disqualified from the 2018 event.

Perhaps the Mexico City Marathon has garned a reputation, and is now particularly popular with course-cutters.

Drafting Letters 

“t” is apparently better than “V”

Back in 2019, I wrote about Eliud Kipchoge’s remarkable sub-2 hour marathon. In addition to Kipchoge’s remarkable skill, that feat was assisted by a strategy of pace runners off of whom he could draft. Now, researchers with access to a wind tunnel (and “manikins”) have found an even better drafting strategy, which could be used to speed things up even more.

Two different shapes for drafting

Rather than a V, the winning design sets the five pacers in front in a formation shaped like a lowercase t: one pacer behind another, followed by two side-by-side, and then one more behind that pair.

I continue to look forward to the possibility of a sub-two-hour time in an official marathon.

Run, Don’t Run Your Mouth

Don’t be like this.

Current Miami mayor and future Republican presidential primary dropout Francis Suarez recently tweeted to boast about his time in a 5K race:

This is a very bad tweet. It’s bad on its face, because the speed with which someone runs is completely irrelevant to their ability to govern. To give just one extremely obvious example, Franklin Roosevelt led America through World War II despite being paralyzed from the waist down.

But this is also just such a weak flex, given Suarez’s time. I would ordinarily consider it poor form to critique someone’s race result, but given the vaingloriousness of the post, it simply must be said: Suarez’s time is nothing to brag about. It’s fine, and that’s about it.

To make it worse, Suarez isn’t even leading the pack in the utterly moronic category of “presidential candidate 5K times”. Instead, he is at best a distant 3rd, with two readily available answers to this tweet’s idiotic demand. Current candidate Vivek Ramaswamy putting up a 23:04 back in 2021 and 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke dropping a 21:04 last year.

When it comes to running, unless you’re one of the elites, it’s best to focus on competing against yourself. There will always be someone faster than you, probably lots of people, and that’s OK. Just get out there, do your thing, and be satisfied. Because if you try to rub your mediocre time in the world’s face, you will be laughed at by the many, many people who know better. Humility is a far better path, not to mention a better indicator of a good leader than the ability to run 3.1 miles.

The rotten cherry on top of this garbage sundae of a tweet, however, is its statement that Suarez “placed 6th”. This is a lie by omission. In point of fact, Suarez placed 6th in his age group (Men 45-49), a group that featured just 16 entrants. He finished over 3 minutes behind the age group’s winner, Phil Decker, who he would apparently have to agree deserves to be president even more. 🇺🇸 Vote Decker 2024! 🇺🇸

No, far from a true 6th place finish, the results show that Suarez’s not-at-all elite time put him 87th of 460 finishers. Coincidentally, that’s about where he can expect to place in the Republican primaries too.

Two Men Against the Mountain 

Nearly a mile of elevation gain

Last month, runner John McGinty completed the arduous Mount Washington Road Race. The race is a 7.6 mile ascent up the tallest mountain in the northeast, and the weather is often record-settingly awful, even in June. So when his 82-year-old running mentor Ron Paquette didn’t show up at the summit, McGinty went back down to find him. That’s when photographer Joe Viger captured a remarkable shot:

Two runners struggling up a mountain in the rain and fog
[Photo credit: Joe Viger]

The picture features McGinty helping Paquette up the last half-mile of the race. Thanks to McGinty’s help, Paquette finished for the 41st time.

“To me, the photo speaks to perseverance of the human spirit to live, to overcome hardship, and also to achieve,” [Viger] says.

Go get ’em, Ron.

I Was a Victim of Bird Strike

But seriously, what the fuck, goose?

Yesterday morning, I was hit by a goose. A mile and a half in to a seven mile run, a goose flew directly into me. Physically, I’m mostly fine, if a bit sore. I don’t appear to have any beak bruises, at least. But mentally? Man, I don’t know!

The banks of the river Charles where I do much of my running are infested with Canada geese, munching on grass and honking the day away. They’re generally just benign poop factories, though they might be a bit too tame:

A goose directly below the photographer
So I’m just sitting on a bench and eventually I gotta say “Ay, goose, ever heard of the concept of personal space?”.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

And when they have goslings, they’ll hiss up a storm at you:

A goose directly below the photographer
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

That’s usually as far as it goes though. So when I spotted two of these pests flying low at my 2 o’clock, I didn’t think much of it. As I kept running, it seemed they were going to be landing pretty close to me, but that’s fine. At the last moment, however, I realized one of these hefty bastards was going to collide with me. In a split second, I turned my body away, it slammed me square in the back, and I yelled out “Jesus!”. The goose, I would like it noted for the record, never made a single sound.

After I got hit, I slowed down and looked around, but there was absolutely no one in sight. Nary a soul had witnessed this honest-to-goodness bird strike (not engine suck). I swiveled my head to look back at the winged pair, who were now standing around, goosing it up like nothing had happened. In disbelief, I yelled out “What the FUCK?!”.

I had broken stride when the collision occurred, but thinking it wise to get some distance from my assailant, I hadn’t stopped completely. As I continued on, I again scanned the area for people. I wanted someone to reassure me that they had seen what happened, and that they would commiserate as a fellow human against these out-of-control waterfowl. Alas, I again came up empty. I picked my pace back up and sped away from the site of my bird-based embarrassment.

Frankly, I should’ve turned around and gone home. I don’t think anyone could have blamed me for just giving up at that point, on the run, and even on the whole day. But instead, I ran another five and a half miles wondering what the fresh hell had just happened to me.

It was suggested to me that the goose himself might be having similar confusion. But no! He had a friend there. At the very least, they can talk it over together. “Pete, why was that guy on our landing strip?” “Oh, Gary, I don’t know, he came out of nowhere!”. Or maybe it was intentional, and they’re actually out there laughing at me. “I really whacked that non-flying schmuck! Running – pfft. Get some wings!”.

I’ll never know the truth of the situation. I sure do wish I could see a replay, but there’s no video, no witnesses, no evidence at all. In an effort to restore my own sense of self, I’m chalking the whole thing up to pure avian incompetence, coupled with the law of averages. I’ve decided to simply accept that running thousands of miles along the river meant that sooner or later, I was bound to get nailed by a clumsy goose.

Same Time Next Year?

Forget the Masters; the Boston Marathon is the real tradition unlike any other.

Eliud Kipchoge is one of the greatest distance runners the world has ever known. Coming into Monday’s Boston Marathon, he had earned victories in 12 major marathons, and failed to win just twice. The man is nearly superhuman, as I’ve documented previously, and he was certainly one of the favorites to win the men’s race.

At 11 AM yesterday, I stood at the Newton firehouse turn (mile 17.3 or so) and saw Kipchoge leading the front pack. It was a cool, rainy day, and for his standards, the pace wasn’t blistering. Nevertheless, it certainly seemed Kipchoge could be on his way to another victory.

Eliud Kipchoge, in red shorts, leading the pack
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Then came the Newton Hills. Though Heartbreak Hill is the most famous, there are actually four notable hills in Newton, and they come deep into the race, when runners are far from fresh. As has happened so many times before, the hills changed the outcome of the race:

For the first 17 miles, Kipchoge appeared to be in control, leading the pack of elite men’s runners at the front of the race. But as has happened for more than a century, the Newton hills, culminating with the famous “Heartbreak Hill,” proved too much.

An attack from Gabriel Geay, of Tanzania, in Mile 18 put Kipchoge in trouble, as he fell back and was unable to even lead the chase group. By the time the leaders had passed the hills and eventual winner Evans Chebet made a strong move at Mile 21, Kipchoge had been dropped by the leading group and trailed by almost a minute.

In the end, Eliud Kipchoge proved human, and Evans Chebet defended his Boston crown with a stellar 2:05:54. Kipchoge’s time of 2:09:23 was only good enough for a sixth place finish. After the race, he had this to say:

I live for the moments where I get to challenge the limits. It’s never guaranteed, it’s never easy. Today was a tough day for me. I pushed myself as hard as I could but sometimes, we must accept that today wasn’t the day to push the barrier to a greater height. I want to congratulate my competitors and thank everyone in Boston and from home for the incredible support I am so humbled to receive. In sports you win and you lose and there is always tomorrow to set a new challenge. Excited for what’s ahead.

I’m already excited for next year, where I hope we’ll see Kipchoge again.

You Win 2022, Gary 

I ran a lot last year, but I’ve got nothing on Gary McKee.

Recently, I posted some 2022 running stats:

I was pleased with my accomplishments. At over one and a half kilomiles, it’s the farthest I’ve ever run in a year, by several hundred miles. Though my pace was down slightly from the previous year, that was a function of the greater distance, as well as a concerted effort to train slower so I could race faster. I managed to set personal bests in four distances: 1 mile, 5K, 10K, and half-marathon. I thought that was all pretty good.

Well, it’s nothing compared to Gary McKee. In 2022, McKee ran a marathon every. single. day. of the year. That’s an astonishing 9,567 miles, a truly jaw-dropping accomplishment. As part of his efforts, he also raised over a million pounds for two charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and West Cumbria Hospice at Home. Simply incredible.

Gary McKee, drinking a “Marathon Man IPA” which sports his likeness on the label

Cheers to you, Gary!

Jiande’s Average Air Quality Is “Unhealthy” Even for Non-Smokers 

It’s a lot like Donald Trump, frankly.

Recently, a 50-year-old man known as “Uncle Chen” ran the Xin’anjiang Marathon while chain-smoking cigarettes. That’s both impressive and awful.

Uncle Chen running and smoking. It’s awful.

My least favorite part about this story is that my own current best marathon time is a full 10 minutes slower than Chen’s 3 hours and 28 minutes. That’s a little disheartening!

But my favorite part of the story is this line from CBS Sports:

While some users on Weibo were frustrated that Uncle Chen was permitted to smoke while competing in the marathon, there are no rules that state runners can’t smoke while competing.

Of course there aren’t! No one knew we needed a rule about this!

Previously in smoking during marathons: Assorted Notes from the 2014 Boston Marathon

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.