On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Did you see that? Did you? How freaking amazing! AND THEN: sadness.

So. The Boston Marathon was yesterday. Of course you know that, though, since you were probably watching it. I know it's slightly hypocritical for me to get all excited about it after I mentioned it disparagingly on Friday, but so it goes. If you follow me on twitter, you were definitely watching it as my twitter feed was absolutely RIVETED for several hours this early afternoon.

For good reason - what a race!

In short: Ryan Hall ran it in 2:04:55 and yet took fourth - fourth! What a coach G-d has been for him. I would aspire to be half as fast as he is. Literally. But even with that amazing time, he did not place in the top three. It's mind-blowing. Look at it this way: Chicago 2010 was won in 2:06:24. NYCM (2010) was won in 2:08:14.  Berlin, 2010? 2:05:08. London (2011)?  2:04:40. With a time that would have outright won him three of the five world marathon majors and gotten him second in the fourth race, Ryan Hall was not even on the podium at Boston this year.

You would think that fact alone would sum up the amazing drama that was Boston. And yet! It didn't! You see, a new world record of 2:03:02 was set yesterday. By nearly a minute, which is kind of balls-out freaking awesome. (And also fuels the "when will man break the 2-hour marathon record?" fire.) Problem is, although it was a world record and although Geoffrey Mutai won the bonus for setting a world record - $225k for 2 hours work? not too shabby - it's unratifiable. Long story short, the IAAF, who ratifies these records, won't allow the world record to be set on a point-to-point course with a net downhill (and, like yesterday, a tailwind). Boston's a notoriously hard course - the previous course record was 2:05:52, nearly three minutes slower than yesterday's race.

And that was just the men's race. The women's race was won by TWO SECONDS. One crazy leg kick. Fewer than two of my at rest heartbeats.

In other news, this race was not without its own version of Uta Pippig. Click at your own risk. I warned you. And congratulations to Caroline, the woman pictured, on a great race.

Postscript: As exciting as Boston was, and as much as yesterday was a freaking awesome day for distance running, it was tempered by the news of Grete Waitz' passing away yesterday evening, of cancer, at 57. What an awesome, classy, talented woman. The running community will miss her. (That link is in Norwegian - it's 5:48am as I'm writing this and I can't find any reputable English-language news stories. Sadly, "Grete Waitz er død" translates pretty easily. I'll update the link once I find it in the Times.)


  1. Funny how highs and lows can follow within minutes. The finishing times at Boston are out of this world, Grete's passing away - at that age - is such sad news. Said it before, will say it again: cancer sucks. Enough said.

  2. so sad about Grete! What a great runner and person.

    It was an amazing race - ridiculously exciting and awesome to see.

    P.S. we may have played a drinking game as to how many times Ryan Hall mentioned G-d in his post-race interview...

  3. Oh, Kelly, that drinking game is genius. Completely genius.



    Of course I clicked the "click at your own risk" link. First, actually. Actually, my eyes landed right on the word "risk" before seeing anything else on the page.

    How common do you think the pooping thing is? One per race? Two? More??

  5. Marie, I <3 you.

    Where I usually am in races the pooping thing never happens... and I'm okay with that.

  6. I love the poopy pictures. Ha ha.

    And wow! I didn't know they wouldn't let the record be set by that course. That sucks!

  7. The pooping thing happens all the time at NYRR races, apparently. With that one crazy poopy lady from Staten Island. OH< and yeah, of course, I totally clicked on that link. And then scrolled all the way down the page to see. What is wrong with me?