Vol. 2 No. 10 October, 1997
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
You might have guessed that the editor of a magazine like RUNNER'S NICHE has
always been a runner, and that no other sport ever grabbed his attention or
imagination the way track and field has. You would be only partly correct.
As a boy, my first passion was baseball. I loved the game and played all the time.
When there was nobody to play with, I would throw the ball at a stone wall in my
back yard and catch it on the rebound. I read everything I could get my hands on
about the game.
I grew up in Colorado and we had no major league team back then. Since my mom
was from Michigan I adopted the Detroit Tigers as my team. I memorized all the
players numbers, positions and statistics. I watched every time they were on
national TV and even picked up a weak AM radio signal from Detroit on occasional
When the Tigers won the World Series in 1968, my dream was to some day play
major league ball for the Tigers. I played Little League every summer, and worked
hard at getting better at baseball. My dad spent many hours catching pitches in the
back yard. I broke a couple of windows with errant throws, but my enthusiasm
During my Little League years I always had good success at "field day" in
elementary school. I was one of the faster runners and a pretty good long jumper. I
never thought much about the idea of track and field as a sport I would take
seriously, though. It was just one fun day at school each year. Besides, I got a
terrible headache and felt nauseated for hours after my first "distance" race of 600
yards. I considered myself a baseball player first and foremost.
There comes a time, however, when certain dreams begin to fade. For me and
baseball it happened in my first year of Pony League, which was for kids the next
age level up from Little League. I realize now that my coach was a jerk, but back
then I thought he was right when he told me I wasn't playing well and hinted that
I had lost the team a couple of games because of my mistakes. Jerk or not, that
coach did do me one favor - when I was on base he gave me the steal sign all the
time. I couldn't pitch, hit or field well enough to please my coach, but I could sure
hustle between the bases.
About the same time another coach, the P.E. teacher and track coach at my junior
high school, became an important influence in my life. He didn't know a great deal
about track, but he knew a lot about kids. One day in P.E. we were running the 60
yard dash for time. I sprinted hard past the finish, then came back and asked
"what was my time, Coach?"
"Green, you are going out for the track team. No excuses. You're too fast not to be
on the team."
"Yes, sir," I replied. He never did tell me my time, but Coach Harold T. Crenshaw
had just given me something that my baseball coach had taken away - a dream. I
ran track from then on. Coach Crenshaw gave me what advice he could, and
directed a ton of encouragement my way.
I started running with the same dedication I had worked on my baseball skills
before. Dreams of an Olympic gold medal replaced my big league baseball dreams.
Prior to the track season I worked out with a friend of mine at a local track.
Occasionally my mom would time how long it took me to run around the block. It
was far from scientific training. It was play, really. But I wound up winning the 9th
grade championships in the 100 and 220. Coach Crenshaw awarded me the
"Outstanding Trackman" award at the end of the school year. I felt like a real
athlete, and I became totally devoted to running.
I didn't go on to win an Olympic medal, but I ran in high school, college and
continue to run to this day. Running has remained a playful activity and the time I
spent on track teams offered me some of the richest experiences of my school
years. Running guided my career path as a teacher and coach, provided me with
many of my friends, and taught me a lot about hard work and dedication. I even
met my wife at a fun run.
If I knew where Coach Crenshaw was now, I'd thank him for gently pushing me in
the right direction. I'm pretty sure he would have rather been playing golf than
coaching track, but he took time and care with a young man who needed his
YIANNIS KOUROS WORLD RECORD
Report from Sunirmalya Symons
Yiannis Kouros on Saturday/Sunday 4/5 October, on a tartan track in the southern-
Australian city of Adelaide, completed some 758 laps in 24 hours, breaking a host
of Australian and World marks along the way, and reaching the goal he had set
himself of 300 kilometers. In fact, by race end he had covered 303.506 kilometers
or 188.59 miles, a distance he himself acknowledged as 'mythical'.
It is, in fact, an impossible mark. "Humans were not meant to run 300 kilometers in
24 hours", Kouros laughed at race-end. To put it in perspective, Yiannis had to
average one minute and fifty-three seconds per lap without breaks to reach it. You
might like to think of it this way; go and run 10k in 47 minutes like about 40
percent of runners are able; then repeat it without a break and you're down to
about 20 percent of the running-world. Repeat it 7 or 8 more times and you're with
a select handful of ultra-runners in the world that hard-pressed could maintain
that kind of pace and then stand and applaud Yiannis who would repeat that
relentless pace another 20 times over the following 16 hours to reach 300
kilometers. The second place getter in this race was over 100 Kilometers in his
wake - with another 20 ultra-running specialists following.
Truth to tell, Yiannis started by averaging 1:47 for the first 9 hours, reaching 10K
in 42:16, the half-marathon in 1:30:31, his marathon in 2:59:59, 50k in 3:34:16 and
100k in 7:14:56. The 150K halfway mark was met at 11:04:56. Unbelievably his
longest lap for the first 12 hours was a 3:03 during a toilet break; one of only 5
laps over 2 minutes in 12 hours! (Yiannis had a special 70-meter screen set up
where he could still walk and relieve himself at the same time!)
As one of Yiannis's helpers, I watched as he focused and drew upon what he
describes as the 'power from above'. And the longer the race went the less human
and more otherworldly he appeared. A Sri Chinmoy event, Yiannis often spoke of
his close friendship with the 'running-Guru' describing the Indian mystic as being
on the same path as himself, but only a long, long way ahead. Sri Chinmoy, for his
part, pronounces Yiannis as a kind of future prototype for humanity.
The statistics for the second half of the race are even more astounding. Three laps
for the entire last twelve hours were completed in slower than 2:10. The longest
lap in 24 hours for Yiannis was a 4:37, this included shoe changes, food and water
breaks, everything! For the last six hours, between 2-8 AM, when most mortals are
well and truly laid up in bed, after having already completed 233 kilometers in 18
hours, Yiannis did not have a slower lap than 2:09, averaging an unbelievable 2:03.
He passed 200K in 15:10:34, 250K in 19:28:30 and his ultimate goal of 300K in
23:43:26. In 24 hours, he had set 5 new world records and 2 Australian records,
but his most treasured the 24 hour mark of 303.506km surely will stand for
Perhaps, the most poignant tribute, came from another helper, a Greek pastry-cook
who had met Yiannis for the first time just 24 hours prior. Joining with the
hundreds of teary-eyed spectators who raced across the track to greet Yiannis as
the 24 hour clock ticked down, he remarked, "This is the best day of my life - I
have been in teams that have won Grand Finals and that was fantastic, but Yiannis
has done something very special that will live forever and I have been here to
witness it, the greatest world-record ever!!"
THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL RUNNING
By Michael Selman
You cannot really call yourself a runner until you have experienced one of the
A) Locking yourself of your house or
B) Locking yourself out of your car.
Who among us has never done this? If not, then you cannot call yourself a runner.
The best you can claim to be is a "recreational jogger." It doesn't have quite the
same ring, does it?
There are various means to reaching this end. Sometimes, you just bring the wrong
key. I have locked myself out of the house this way a couple of times.
It goes like this. I grab the key to the house, tuck it in the key pocket of my shorts,
lock the door and pull it closed behind me. Then I go for my run, usually
wondering where my next article is going to come from. When I finish my run, I
confidently reach in my key pocket, pull out the key and discover that now, I can
also lock the dead bolt lock, which requires a totally different key. Locking yourself
out of the house isn't too bad, because you can usually hang out with a neighbor
until a spouse comes home. You eventually gain access to your home without
having to call AAA.
The more severe of the lockouts is the automotive variety. They are worse for
many reasons. First, they usually occur in the middle of nowhere.
Second, you may really have to inconvenience someone else to travel long distances
at inappropriate times to bring an extra key. Third, you may have to shell out large
sums of money to repair broken glass, motors in power windows, or to pay for
roadside assistance. From personal experience, I can tell you that the two most
common reasons for locking ones key in the car are miscommunication and
stupidity. I'll relate a few of my exclusive experiences to you now.
The very first business trip I ever went on was to Lexington, Kentucky. There were
some beautiful places to run there, but none were really convenient to my hotel. I
drove to one really nice park, tucked the key to my Chevy Sprint in my key pouch,
and had a very pleasant ramble around the park. It's always invigorating to
discover new places to run when you travel. I was really pleased with myself until
I got back to the parking lot and realized that the key to my Sprint would not work
too well with the Toyota I was renting.
My next business trip was to Tampa, Florida. I found a wonderful place to run on a
pedestrian path leading up to the Clearwater Causeway. Again, it required a drive
from the hotel. This time I was cautious to be sure to bring the keys to the car I
was renting with me on my run. I locked my wallet in the glove compartment
using one key, and then used the other key to lock the car from the outside. I
tucked both keys in my pocket and took off on a very scenic run as the sun was
rising. It was a stunningly beautiful sunrise, and I effortlessly glided over the trail,
with just the clinking of the keys to keep me company.
Did you ever notice that, as running shorts start to age, the first thing to lose it's
integrity is the lip of the key pocket? Depending on the design, a determined key
can sometimes slip over the edge of the pocket and escape.
Well, as I was admiring the beauty of the Tampa Bay sky, I noticed my keys
weren't jingling together any more. I felt the pocket and there was only one key
there. The whole rest of the run, I felt like a contestant on Lets Make a Deal. There
was a 50/50 chance that the key that remained would open the car door. If I had
the option, I would have traded it for $500 and the curtain that Carol Merrell was
standing in front of. When I finally got back to the car, I put the key in the lock. It
wouldn't turn. I sat back on the car wondering what I was going to do, and felt
something kind of unusual. It was the other key. As it turned out, the key had
slipped out of my pocket, bus was caught in the "support" below. It did leave a
really interesting imprint on a body part which I shall not elaborate on at this or
any other time.
For a few years, there used to be another big point to point 10K race on July 4th
weekend, which wasn't in Atlanta. It started on the Jersey side of the George
Washington Bridge, crossed over and ended at Inwood Park in New York.
My father and I decided to do this race one year. He was living in Fort Lee, New
Jersey, about three miles from the start of the race. Point to point courses are
always logistically inconvenient for the runners, especially if the race doesn't offer
any kind of shuttle service. This one didn't.
We planned our day as if we were members of the IMF force on
Mission:Impossible. We got up at 5 AM on race morning and drove our two cars
over to Inwood Park. We then parked my car there, drove back to Jersey in his car,
and filtered in with 3,000 other runners at the starting line, with old glory hanging
from the near span of the bridge. The cannon boomed, the bridge shook, and we
were off. It was a great race. To this day, bridge runs are among my favorites. It
was an additional comfort to know that my car was only one block from the finish
line. If we were lucky, we could shoot back to Jersey before the bridge converted
back to it's usual congested state.
As we approached the car, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten one minor
detail in this master plan. At about the same time, dad said "Okay, let's go so we
can beat the traffic."
What I told him next didn't please him at all. I had forgotten to pocket the key to
my car before heading for the starting line of the race. The key was still in the
glove compartment of the car on the Jersey side of the bridge. The rest of the day
went like this.
10:00-10:15: Hail a cab
10:15-11:45: Took the cab back to dad's car in New Jersey (NOTE: The cab trip back
took much longer than the race across.)
11:45-11:45:15: Paid cab fare of $35.00
11:46-12:30: Drove dad's car back to Inwood Park (Paid $3.00 toll to cross bridge.)
12:30-1:45: Drove both cars back to New Jersey (Paid $6.00 toll to cross bridge in
1:45-bedtime: Dad didn't say one word to me.
Bridge runs and locked cars seem to go together. We were getting ready to run the
Tri-Span Run in Wilmington, North Carolina one year. It's a very challenging 8K
race held every August in muggy intolerable Coastal Carolina conditions. The course
crosses over three bridges along the route. Two of the bridges have metal gratings
across their spans which have sliced runners up in the past and sent them to the
We were stretching by my car, and just before race time, we opened up the trunk
and threw all our goodies in: our T-shirts, upcoming race applications, the
keys............and closed the trunk. Fortunately, one of our friends at the race was a
policeman on the local force. He said he'd help us get into the car after the race.
We looked for him after the race. When we found him, he seemed in a hurry.
When we got his attention, he said he had to leave because something had just
come up, but he gave us his own personal Slim Jim, a device used to pick car locks.
"Just bring it back to the station when you are finished with it." he said, and then
he was gone.
We tried our best to open the car door using this thing, in the middle of a busy
street, to no avail. People walking by gave us funny looks. We were about to give
up and call a locksmith when a really roguish looking guy passed by. Instinctively,
I said "Excuse me, do you know how to pick a car lock?" His eyes lit up. Am I a
good judge of character, or what?
The car was opened in less than a minute. We had some explaining to do when we
returned the Slim Jim to the police station. I hope our friend is still on the force.
STRENGTH WITHOUT WEIGHTS
By Woody Green
When thinking of strength training, you might normally be expected to picture a
weight room in your local health club or rec center. Free weight stations and
specialized machines of all types are available to anyone wishing to improve their
strength. This is a good idea both to improve running performance and to protect
The fact is, many people have a hard time finding the time or motivation to go to a
rec center or health club to lift weights. Also, some runners feel rather self
conscious lifting weights around big, muscular folks who's forearms are wider than
the average runner's waist.
One solution is to buy a weight set for your home, but this is expensive, and it
takes up a lot of room. This doesn't mean you can't do a good deal of strength
training at home, though. With no or very little equipment you can still find ways
to improve your strength.
Here are a few ideas for your upper body:
Push-ups are a much underrated exercise. If you have problems doing regular
push-ups, try doing them from your knees instead of from the toes. Start with just
a few and slowly increase as you get stronger.
Another great exercise is chair dips. Using a desk or dining set chair, face away
from the chair and put your arms behind you so that just the palms of your hands
rest on the seat. Put your feet well out in front of you with your legs straight so
that you are resing your weight on your heels and palms only. Do the exercise by
lowering yourself toward the floor by bending your arms, then pushing back up by
straightening your arms. Do this several times until your arms are fatigued. Be
careful at first, this one can leave your arms very sore after the first few times you
do this exercise. Also be careful that you don't tip the chair over by putting too
much weight on the very edge of the seat. Make sure you use a solid, stable chair.
For a small investment, you can purchase a chinning bar at your local sporting gods
store. This will mount in your doorway. Chin-ups are another simple, yet effective
exercise. If you can't pull yourself up, you are not alone. Many people can't. Work
toward the goal by first jumping up and lowering yourself down as slowly as you
can. Eventually you will probably find you have gained the strength to pull
After mastering these exercises, they can be made more difficult. Push-ups can be
done with your legs elevated above your body on a chair. Some people enjoy
pushing up forcefully and clapping their hands together between repetitions.
Another way to add difficulty is to do the push-ups on your fingertips.
Chair dips can be done with some sort of weight in your lap, such as a heavy book.
You can increase the work load for both chair dips and pull-ups by raising and
lowering yourself very slowly.
While these simple exercises cannot replace a gym full of weight equipment, they
can do a surprising amount to increase upper body strength and increase a
runner's efficiency. Next moth we'll look at some ways to increase leg strength
without weight equipment.
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
A new online resource for recreational and competitive runners of all levels called
"Kick!" is now available. A quick rundown of the
* Over 1000 race listings throughout the U.S.
* Interactive "virtual races."
* Weekly digest of running-related info on the web.
* Training programs for runners of all ability.
* Pointers on every aspect of the sport.
* An introduction to running for the newcomer.
* A whole slew of links to other running sites.
Whether you are looking for the most basic information (e.g. how to stretch
properly before running) or the most obscure (e.g. where to find a nude running
event), Kick! can help you find what you need. Stop by for a visit:
Mannatech was recently picked as the official food supplement provider for USA
Track and Field (see Odds and Ends in this issue.) The information for one
Mannatech supplier's web site is:
Sandra Larsen LMP
Independent Mannatech Associate #72,330
4 Star National Director
Lots of mail this month wishing the editor's father good health. He's doing great,
now, and thanks for your thoughts and prayers!
ODDS AND ENDS
*Mannatech Named Supplement Supplier for USATF*
USA Track & Field has named leading neutraceuticals developer Mannatech Inc. as
its nutritional food supplements supplier. Mannatech will provide its products to
U.S. athletes in a four-year deal worth $2 million, part of USATF's move to broaden
its base of support in corporate America.
"Having Mannatech step up as a supplier is an example of what we're looking for in
our new partnering arrangements," USATF CEO Craig Masback said. "Mannatech and
USATF clearly view this as a
mutually beneficial relationship, and it will be the first of several new agreements
we'll be announcing in the near future."
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:
Pass the address on to your friends!
Also visit the COLORADO RUNNER'S NICHE site at:
This publication is a print version of the electronic RUNNER'S NICHE, with an
emphasis on Colorado running.
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