Previous “Running” posts

Who Was Jock Semple? 

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Yesterday’s piece on Kathrine Switzer included mention of Jock Semple, who failed in his attempt to snatch Switzer’s number off her back during the 1967 Boston Marathon. Semple’s actions were pathetic in every sense of the word, but it seems a shame for him to be defined by a single ignominious moment. Runner’s World recently gathered recollections from many who knew Semple. This includes Switzer herself, who publicly reconciled with Semple just a few years after their first run-in.

Tom Fleming’s quote might be the best of all:

By the way, I love those photos of him chasing Kathrine in 1967. He made a worthy effort, but history was passing him by on that day.

261

Monday, April 24th, 2017

In 1967, when the Boston Marathon was only open to men, Kathrine Switzer registered for it under the name “K.V. Switzer”. Despite a now-infamous attempt by race organizer Jock Semple to pull her out of the race, Switzer finished her run and became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with an official race bib, numbered 261.1 Her actions that day, and for years to follow, paved the way for women in both running and athletics in general.2


Jock Semple accosting Kathrine Switzer mid-race in 1967
[Photo credit: Boston Herald via Runner’s World]

This year, Switzer returned to Boston to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of her first run. The race has grown by almost two orders of magnitude since 1967, and it now includes not just a women’s division, but divisions for push rim wheelchairs, visually impaired/blind runners, and those who are mobility impaired. Switzer helped lead the way for all of this. She’s now 70 years old, but in addition to throwing out the first pitch for the Red Sox game on Sunday and signaling the start of the women’s elite race on Monday, she also found time to actually run the marathon again.

She did so while again wearing her very first number: 261.


Switzer completing the 2017 Boston Marathon
[Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP via Boston Globe]

That number will now be retired. No one else will ever wear number 261 in the Boston Marathon, and that’s just right.


Footnotes:

  1. A year earlier, Bobbi Gibb ran the Boston Marathon unofficially, marking her as the first woman to complete the race. She should certainly not be overlooked. In fact, Gibb is a three-time champion, with the Boston Athletic Association retroactively honoring her as the women’s race winner for the years 1966, 1967, and 1968. Let there be no doubt that Bobbi Gibb kicks ass too.↩︎

  2. This post might just as easily be called “Kathrine Switzer Kicks Ass”, to make it clear that it’s part of that illustrious collection. ↩︎

As if Running a Marathon Isn’t Difficult Enough 

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Via Marathon is a popular race for those looking to qualify for the Boston Marathon. It flat course, featuring plenty of shade, helps runners achieve their fastest possible times. Unfortunately, this year’s race also included a rather substantial obstacle, in the form of a moving train crossing the course.

Becca Pizzi Kicks Ass 

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

At the end of January, Becca Pizzi completed seven marathons, in seven days, on seven continents. She also won them all.

Previously in Female Athletes Kicking Ass: Katie Ledecky Kicks Ass

Run, Leroy, Run 

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Recently, Leroy Stolzfus narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I sincerely hope he can improve his pace just a touch, because a man running up Heartbreak Hill in full Amish garb would truly be a sight to behold.

A Runner in Traditional Amish Garb

You might be wondering how Stolzfus would get all the way to Boston if he manages to qualify. Surprisingly, he would have many options.

There Is, of Course, No Gun 

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Michael Heald has written an incredible story of running a half-marathon behind the walls of Oregon State Penitentiary, where the phrase “The Wall” takes on a very different meaning.

The Best of Sports 

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Over at Boston.com, Chad Finn lauds the Boston Marathon as the best of sports. I couldn’t agree more. If you live in the area, there’s still time to get out there. It’s a cold and rainy year, but there will still be hundreds of thousands of spectators cheering on tens of thousands of runners. It’s worth your time.

Finn also had a great quote from Massachusetts native Shalene Flanagan, an elite runner who regrettably came up short again this year:

“I have fallen in love with this course. I had so much fun preparing for this race. I wanted to use that as an advantage,” said Flanagan. “I knew every little divot in the road. I knew where every Dunkin’ Donuts was, where every Wendy’s was.”

You can tell Flanagan is a local because she navigates via Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Tomatan Has Arrived and Nothing Will Ever Be the Same

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

As everyone knows, tomatoes are packed with nutrients. Marathon runners have long held that tomatoes would be the perfect snack to power you through 26.2 grueling miles, if only there were some way to carry them. But do you really want to run with tomatoes in your hands? Well, maybe, but two tomatoes is certainly not enough. How about carrying a whole bag of them? That would be uncomfortable and lead to bruising!

Because of these hurdles, we runners have been stuck with second-tier snacks, like Gatorade, PowerBars, or —*shudder*— Gü. Until now! Until…Tomatan.

The Tomatan is a backpack that can be loaded with six midsize tomatoes — enough, say the makers, to power runners through this weekend’s Tokyo Marathon.

Yes! Finally! Why, with six mid-sized tomatoes, even a smoking senior citizen could blast through a race. Thank you, vegetable juice company Kagome, who most assuredly did not concoct this as a comedic method of getting publicity! Thank you, Japan. Truly, you have done a great service for the world. Thanks to your efforts, runners can strap on a 17 pound tomato-headed humanoid backpack and have easy, hands-free access to the essential tomato nutrients we need.

And by golly, we’ll look good doing it, too:

The Tomatan in action
Hey, it works on donkeys in cartoons.

The only question I have is where do I order one for my next race?

Assorted Notes from the 2014 Boston Marathon

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

You might have heard that for the first time in 31 years, an American won yesterday’s Boston Marathon men’s division. If all you read was the headline, you might also have wondered if I was that American. Lamentably, though I ran the race, I was not the winner. Instead, that victory went to 38-year-old Meb Keflezighi, who emigrated to America from Eritrea at the tender age of 12. Good for him and good for America.

But more than an American man winning, or Boston-area hopeful Shalene Flanagan coming up short in the women’s race, this year’s race gave the average spectator, the average runner, and the average citizen a chance to feel a part of things. It was a chance to put the ugliness of 2013 behind us. To see that, you need look no further than this photo of Bill Foreman, who decided to drive up from Virginia on Sunday night in order to attempt Monday’s race.

ALT NAME
[Photo credit: Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe]

Now, I don’t know how it turned out for ol‘ Bill (who appears to have written that “USA” on his face with the “help” of a mirror). The photo’s caption rather hilariously indicates that he was grabbing a smoke during the race, which is not a great sign. Searching in the race results for “Foreman” led to no relevant hits.1 Regardless, however, the mere desire of an elderly veteran seeking to run his first marathon in Boston speaks to exactly how much this race means to so many people. Yesterday, it went off beautifully, and that’s pretty great.


Footnotes:

  1. Fortunately, a cursory glance at the obituaries didn’t turn up anything either. ↩︎

Powered by Runners 

Monday, April 15th, 2013

It’s Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts (as well as Wisconsin and Maine1), which means it’s also Marathon Monday in and around Boston. The world’s most prestigious marathon brings tens of thousands of runners to the course2, but none of the physical energy they expend is recovered. A company called Pavegen Systems is trying to change that, and had a demonstration of their product during the Paris Marathon back on the 7th.

The tiles generated up to 8 watts with each step, Bloomberg’s Alex Morales reported. Admittedly that’s nothing. But with 40,000 runners it was enough to power screens and signs throughout the race. Not bad for a start.

Neat.


Footnotes:

  1. Though pedants may note that in Maine, it’s apparently “Patriot’s Day”.↩︎

  2. There are also several few hundred bikers who ride the Midnight Marathon the night before the race. I’ve run the course, and last night I joined in the Midnight Marathon. You might be surprised to learn that biking it is much, much easier.↩︎