Vol. 1 No. 8 November, 1996
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
It all started with a free airline ticket. You see, I won a free airline
ticket in a drawing at a local race. The only problem was that I had
to use it in a fairly short amount of time. What to do? where to go?
What great problems to ponder!
I picked someplace warm, of course. And, only naturally, I picked a
place that had a race the same weekend. As it turns out, there was a
5 and 10 K in the San Diego area that fit my schedule and my wife's.
It was the Arturo Barrios Invitational in Chula Vista. It turned out to
be a great choice!
This was the 8th edition of the race, which benefits educational
projects in the area. Many scholarships have been given to needy
students from nearby Mexico and California alike. This year $10,000
was donated to a local library for children.
Education is an important cause to Arturo. His wife, Joy, relates that
Arturo's philosophy is that runners can take his world record from
him, but nobody can never take his education. Arturo told me that he
got hundreds of letters from individuals seeking scholarship money.
The needs of these individuals were rather overwhelming.
Chula Vista is a mere 6 or 7 miles from Mexico, and many Mexican
runner's cross the border to attend this event, especially kids.
Saturday features children's events for every age category
imaginable. The next day, a 5 K and 10 K for the masses are held,
followed by an elite 10 K for men and women.
The courses for the citizen races are flat and fast. Results are posted
in only minutes, and there are many post race refreshments to
choose from. Unlike all too many races these days, you don't have to
fight over the last gatoraide or banana, there is plenty of food for all
What really won me over, though, was the elite race. The top runners
are on a loop course that brings them past the start / finish area
eight times during the race. Spectators can follow the race closely,
and cheer frequently for their favorites.
We watched top runners such as Silvio Guerra of Ecuador, Andres
Espinosa of Mexico, 4 time Barrios Invitational winner Philimon
Hanneck of Zimbabwe, Mexican track champion Adriana Fernandez,
Russian Olympic Gold medalist Valentina Egorova, and British star Jill
Hunter. Ultimately 19 year old Joseph Kamau won the mens race in
28:23, with Kenyan road star Gladys Ondeyo winning the womens
division in 33:16.
The times in the elite race were a tad slow, according to the top
runners, due to a good number of turns on the elite course.
The free airline ticket wound up costing us a lot for motel, rental car
and shopping in Tiajuana. Still, the Arturo Barrios Invitational is a
race every serious runner should try to attend. Maybe if we start
saving now, we can afford to go back even without the free ticket...
- Woody Green
CENTURY OF THE MARATHON
Some info on a book you might be interested in:
In his foreword to "Century of the Marathon 1896-1996" the world-
renowned sports physiologist Professor Tim Noakes writes that the
marathon is a race that provides the theatre for greatness and so
fulfills our human need for noble heroes.
"The author has written his book with the passion of the true
believer and the accuracy of the statistician, a most rare combination.
The result is a book of real scholarship, remarkable in its
completeness and full of the unusual information and insights which
distinguish that which is classic and enduring," according to Noakes.
Here the compelling and dramatic - and sometimes tragic - history of
the marathon is traced and its many colourful stories told. From the
legend of Pheidippides, who probably did not run from Marathon to
Athens in 490 BC, to the two Zulus who were South Africa+s first
representatives in an international marathon, from the heart-
wrenching runs of Dorando Pietri and Jim Peters to the magnificent
performances of Kenneth McArthur and Johannes Coleman, from
women's struggle for marathon equality in the face of male
chauvinist prejudice to Joan Benoit's triumph over adversity to
become the first Olympic marathon champion, from the simple
beginnings of the Boston marathon in 1897 to today's highly
lucrative city marathons with thousands of participants ... all the
great races and their splendid cast of runners are here, described by
someone who has studied, and run, the marathon over a period of
The book celebrates the first hundred years of the marathon from
the original race in 1896, and chronologically details its growth
across the world right up to the beginning of the Olympic year of
1996. All the major races ever run are covered and their results
given. There is a chapter on the history of the marathon in South
Africa and one on women's participation, as well as a unique results
and statistics section, including lists of South African marathon
champions, record holders and annual and all-time top performers.
In a year marking the centenary of the Olympic marathon and the
100th running of the Boston classic, Century of the Marathon is a
significant event in sports publishing and a book to be savoured by
every running enthusiast.
The book's author, Riel Hauman, ran his first marathon in 1975 and
has completed the distance many times since then, although in the
last few years of the marathon's first century he has run only one
per year - for "sentimental reasons". He wrote the first Afrikaans
book on running and fitness, Hardloop en leef, in 1979 and has also
published a book on his family history.
He was founder editor of the magazine SA Athlete and is a member
of both the SA Athletics Statisticians and the international
Association of Track and Field Statisticians. He has written widely on
athletics for South African and foreign publications and also
contributes regularly to athletics topics on the Internet. He is active
in the administration of the sport, does television broadcasts and
announces at road races.
"Century of the Marathon 1896-1996" costs SAR69.95 (plus R23.00
postage and packing) and can be ordered from the publisher, Human
& Rousseau, P.O. Box 5050, Cape Town, South Africa 8000 (fax +27 21
419-2619, e-mail email@example.com).
A REPORT ON THE ZURICH GRAND PRIX MEET
By Conrad Truedson
14th August 1996
"This is Carnegie Hall. Road racing is Rock and Roll." - Marty Liquori
Before Marty Liquori went into his slow decline to senility he could
be quite insightful. His commentary (however brief) at the 72
Munich Olympics was a wonderful contrast to the useless blabbering
during his New York City Marathon ABC reign. In the quotation
above Liquori hit it right on the mark when he compared Eugene's
venerable Hayward Field to Carnegie Hall. It was during the 1980
Olympic Trials--the team that went nowhere. Craig Virgin had
already won the 10,000 and skipped the 5000 to run a road race. To
Liquori this was sacrilegious. I know to most readers this makes no
sense. But lets face it most road races are as boring as the Republican
Convention. We all know what is going to happen.
The last great road race was Steve Jones's 2:07:13 at Chicago in 1985.
That was exciting and why? Because it was all out, balls to the wall.
Can you imagine 1:01:42 for the first half on a flat course all by your
self? It was truly inspirational. But I am digressing.
As I was saying track is where it is at. And the best of them all is
Zurich. They sure know how to put on a good show. Who knows
where all that money comes from but when the Swiss put something
on they do it right.Practically everyone in athletics who is anyone
was there. (Michael Johnson was injured.) Add 20 Gold Bars--from
the Golden Four meets--and 25,000 rabid and knowledgeable fans
and you have an unbelievable experience. The meet starts about
5:30pm with a series of B races. B races in the sense that the
winning time in the B 800 metres was around 1:43.6! Better than
most meets anywhere.
Soon though the real show begins. First there is the introduction of
all the world record holders, Olympic medalists in attendance. That
goes on what seems like forever. There are just so many of them.
Then the A meet begins. I won't go into detail but highlights
included Masterkova's superb 4:12 mile (the first woman to break
Walter George's 4:12 4/5 mark from 1886.) running the last lap in
around 59 seconds. The 800 showed that Atlanta missed out on the
best in the world with the exclusion of Kipketer. However, the real
excitement was the men's 5000 metres. Last year Gebreselasie
stormed to 12:44.39 running the last 5 laps in 5:01 (faster than
Prefontaine's 1974 American record!). What was he going to do this
year? He showed he was ready at the Olympics running the last 5k
in 13:11 to win the 10k title. And how would Daniel Komen do in his
first matchup with Geb this season? Komen had just missed a certain
WR at Monaco when he mistakenly eased up at the end of the 3000.
At 10:25 pm the gun went off and with the first lap in 61 seconds it
was apparent this would be no sit and kick race. With the crowd
going wilder with each lap the leaders went through 3k in 7:41.It
was at this point that Komen took over. Running the next kilometre
in 2:29 Komen, with Geb in tow, passed 4000 metres, or 10 laps, in
10:10. Komen looked strong, but the unreal thing was how relaxed
Geb looked. Everyone was just waiting for the moment for him to
pounce by Komen.Then the most unexpected happened.
Trailing Komen on the last turn Geb started falling back and finally
started jogging with 120 metres to go, watching anxiously to see if
Komen, who was dashing madly for the finish, would break his once
Beamonesque WR. Komen gave it all but came up .7 seconds short.
Ignored in all the excitement were the others in the race. Six broke
13 minutes with Bob Kennedy under the magic mark again with
another AR of 12:58.21. It is hard to describe the excitement. After
the meet Geb came walking by. He was quite friendly and put up
with all the requests for autographs and photos. It would have been
hard to tell who actually lost that night from the grin on his face.
BLAST FROM THE PAST:
THE MIRACLE MILE
By Woody Green
Most folks who are interested in track and field history know that
Roger Bannister was the first runner to break four minutes in the
mile. He did this at Oxford on May 6th, 1954. The historic mark was
3:59.4. Australian John Landy had hoped to be the first to do the
deed, but he had to settle for being second. He broke Bannister's
world record at Turku, Finland on June 21st, 1954, running 3:57.9.
What a difference a few weeks made for Landy!
Fans of the four lap distance could hardly ask for a more thrilling
season, and yet there was to be one more very significant race. The
two sub-four runners went head to head at the British Empire Games
in Vancouver, Canada on August 7th.
As Bannister and Landy lined up on the starting line, about 35,000
fans were present to see the show down. They saw Landy make a
bold early move, taking the lead in the second turn and passing one
lap in 58.2. Bannister was .6 back, running alongside legendary
runner Murray Halberg.
Landy continued to drive hard, widening his lead and passing 880
yards in 1:58.2. Bannister was ten yards back at 1:59.4. Through the
third lap Bannister slowly and patiently closed on his rival, and at
the bell he was a scant three tenths of a second behind Landy, who
hit a 3:58.4 split.
It began to look as if Landy would triumph, however, when
Bannister could make up no more ground. He pressed hard, but could
do no more than stay a constant 3 yards distant. Coming to the final
straight, Landy sneaked a look over his shoulder, but Bannister was
sprinting past him on the other side. A dreadful tactical mistake by
Landy, but it may not have mattered since Bannister won by a
convincing margin, 3:58.8 to 3:59.6.
Bannister is known to history as a hero for being the first to break
the 4 minute barrier, but this race against Landy may truly have
been the best race in his athletic career.
THIS MONTH'S LIST
AMERICAN MARATHON RECORD PROGRESSION
Record, Runner, Site, Date
2:55:19* Johnny Hayes, London 7/24/08
2:52:46* Robert Fowler, Yonkers 1/1/09
2:46:53* James Clark, New York 1/12/09
2:46:05* Albert Raines, New York 5/8/09
2:41:30 Joseph Organ, Antwerp 8/22/20
2:38:28 Frank Zuna, Windsor, England 5/30/25
2:29:02* Albert Michelsen, Port Chester, NY 10/12/25
2:28:52 Ellison Brown, Boston 4/19/39
2:27:30 Ellison Brown, Salisbury Beach, MA 5/30/40
2:26:52 Joe Smith, Boston 4/19/42
2:24:53 John J. Kelley, Yonkers 9/30/56
2:21:01 John J. Kelley, Yonkers 5/18/58
2:20:14 John J. Kelley, Yonkers 5/22/60
2:18:57 Leonard (Buddy) Edelen, Kosice, Czech. 9/7/62
2:14:28* Leonard (Buddy) Edelen, Chiswick, England 6/15/63
2:13:28 Kenny Moore, Fukuoka 12/7/69
2:11:12 Eamon O'Reilly, Boston 4/20/70
2:10:30 Frank Shorter, Fukuoka 12/3/72
2:09:55 Bill Rodgers, Boston 4/21/75
2:09:27 Bill Rodgers, Boston 4/16/79
2:08:13* Alberto Salazar, New York 10/25/81
Record, Runner, Site, Date
3:21:40 Roberta Gibb, Boston 4/19/66
3:21:19 Sara Mae Berman, Atlantic City 9/28/69
3:02:53* Caroline Walker, Seaside, OR 2/28/70
3:01:42* Beth Bonner, Philadelphia 5/9/71
3:00:35* Sara Mae Berman, Brockton, MA 5/30/71
2:55:22 Beth Bonner, New York 9/19/71
2:49:40 Cheryl Bridges, Culver City, CA 12/5/71
2:46:36 Miki Gorman, Culver City, CA 12/2/73
2:43:55* Jacqueline Hansen, Culver City, CA 12/1/74
2:38:19* Jacqueline Hansen, Eugene, OR 10/12/75
2:37:57 Kim Merritt, Eugene, OR 11/11/77
2:36:23 Julie Brown, Eugene, OR 9/10/78
2:35:16 Joan Benoit Samuelson, Boston 4/16/79
2:31:23 Joan Benoit Samuelson, Auckland, N.Z. 2/3/80
2:30:58 Patti Catalano, Montreal 9/6/80
2:29:33 Patti Catalano, New York 9/26/80
2:27:52 Patti Catalano, Boston 4/20/81
2:26:11 Joan Benoit Samuelson, Eugene, OR 9/12/82
2:22:43* Joan Benoit Samuelson, Boston 4/18/83
2:21:21 Joan Benoit Samuelson, Chicago 10/20/85
* = World record.
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
Now up and running is the new Tulsa Track Club Web site at
"http://tulsatrack.ionet.net" This site is designed to promote local
athletes and competitions in the Oklahoma area.
*GRAVITY, A LAW YOU CAN'T BREAK*
I am 46 years old, 6'2" and 215 lbs. I find most of the training advise
is set up for "svelt" skinny runners. For us"gravitationally
challenged" runners there appears to be no resources available. Do
you know of any books, articles, of web sites to assist. Thanks!
Marathon training is especially difficult in trying to improve times. I
have run 6 and never been under 3:40. Boston qualification is near
impossible. Maybe they will set up weight classes? HA HA HA fat
chance! Anyway I would appreciate any help you can give.
- No Name Given
Ed: You mentioned gravity as a problem. Have you heard the latest
scientific evidence suggests that there really is no such thing as
gravity? It turns out we all stay stuck to the planet because the
earth sucks! Sorry, I couldn't resist.
To answer your question, the main difference in training is that a
heavier runner will want shoes with extra shock absorption and may
have to accept a lower training load.
The problem with any training advice from books, magazines, video
tapes etc. is that training has to be specialized for each and every
individual. Even the "svelt" runners you speak of really should have
individualized training plans! The best advice is to seek out a coach
who will work with you individually!
Ed: After reading Alison Powell's Article "Why I Run" in last month's
NICHE, one reader had a different viewpoint on why he runs:
*WHY I RUN PART 2*
I run for the women who try to pick up the winning men at the
No, wait, that's rodeos. Darn, I'm in the wrong sport! :-)
- Thomas David Kehoe
ODDS AND ENDS
*European Style Cross Country Race Coming Up in Florida*
February 2, 1997
1st male and female................$500.00
2nd male and female...............$250.00
3rd male and female...............$150.00
The course will have steeple chase barriers and water. It has a hill
and drainage ditches. It is also a spectator friendly course as most of
the time the runners are visible from the football grandstands.
There will be showers for runners, concession stand, etc.
Sebastian River High School
c/o Bill Sistler
9001 Shark Boulevard
Sebastian, FL 32958
RUNNER'S NICHE IS ON THE WEB!
RUNNER'S NICHE has a web page! We have some cool links, and past
issues can be downloaded there. Also, we have a Macintosh training
log program for free download. Features are continuously being
added. If you'd like to visit, the URL is:
http://members.aol.com/woodyg3/web/runiche.html . Pass the
address on to your friends!
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