Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I am (Not) legend

Come in here dear boy and have a cigar, you're going to go far.
...by the way, which one is Pink?

(Pink Floyd)

After five years here I get it. This is a fairly interesting neck of the woods, and among its riches is a very active aerobic community, with high levels of participation and interest in skiing, running, and cycling. In addition, there are several rather extreme and multi sport events, some of which take days and hundreds of miles of transport through wilderness.

But back to running, I've been reading Pete Magill's excellent blog, Younger Legs for Older Runners (http://www.petemagill.blogspot.com/) for the past few months. Like a fleet Captain Kirk, Pete the current American 45-49 age group record holder for 3K (8:36), 5K (14:34), and 10K (31:27) has boldly traveled where no one his age has--including the likes of Olympians Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, John Tuttle, Steve Plasencia...etc. But he's never run a marathon.

In a recent post, 10 Things I Hate About Running, http://petemagill.blogspot.com/2009/05/morning-read-ten-things-i-hate-about.html, Pete's #2 hits it right on:

2. "Have you ever run a marathon?"
No, I haven't. So stop asking. I've run 20 mile training runs in well under 2 hours. I regularly run 90 miles a week and up to 100. I race cross country, track, and the roads. I've won big races in all of them and won masters national championships and set age group records to boot. So understand that just because I haven't ...

You tell 'em Pete!

Here in our town, in spite of all the interest and enthusiasm for running, it still is all about marathon. To be considered a real stud, or better yet a local legend, you have to do the marathon. Here are the official local criteria according to the pundits and scribes:

1) Win the Equinox Marathon once or place in the top 3 twice.
2) Run a marathon (preferably Boston) in 2:40 (probably 3:05 for women) or faster with the caveat that the performance must be post-2000 (I've seen this reference a half dozen times in the paper, as if the courses weren't accurate in past decades).

That's pretty much it.

Some exceptional runners might get a bye but it appears to take repeated performance at the local scene to be afforded such status.

For example two or more wins, preferably consecutive, at the Midnight Sun Run 10K could probably get you in. But one hit wonders like high school runner Devin McDowell (2004) and college All American Tony Tomsisch (2007) aren't quite there yet. Either one would need another win at MSR to make the status of local legend, regardless of whether they run sub 15 for 5000 or under 3:48 for the piddling 1500 meters.

I suppose Kenyan Moses Waweru might be a local legend. He set the all time course in every race he ran (from the mile to 16.5 miles) but was here for only a few months in 2004, didn't run Equinox, and hasn't returned. Worthy of an asterisk for sure (Waweru went on to be a dominant force in the lower 48 road racing scene for a few years after that). We'll have to consult with the anointing committee to decide on legend status.

How about weighing performance level based on the respective distances for their own sake, and not just for the marathon? The marathon is good, it's just not the ultimate.

I just like running and racing (from the mile to the marathon) and love to follow the sport from the local to the international level. I have a lot of respect for the sprinters and mid-distance runners who would never even consider running a marathon. They really get the short end of it. Once they're out of high school or college the opportunities (not to mention support or interest from the community) are almost nil.

Ultras? I'll probably never do anything longer than 50K, if that, but you have to respect what they do. Those who win those 100 milers and such are indeed good runners, but remember for legend status they have to win Equinox first!


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