No Apology Necessary

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News item: (Lancaster News) sports columnist Mike Gross issues apology in the wake of the passionate outrage sparked by his track and field column…” – LancasterOnline

“The past few years, I have volunteered to be a part of LNP’s coverage of the season-ending league, district and state high school track and field meets. This was no one’s idea but mine, and I have done so entirely because I like track and field and its unique feel and atmosphere. For Monday’s paper, I wrote a piece that attempted to describe that atmosphere and failed — utterly and spectacularly — to do so. For that I am very sorry.”

– Mike Gross, Lancaster News/LancasterOnline columnist

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Path of Least Resistance

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My opinion is that the single most effective tactic used on Saturday was to have Kipchoge run most of the distance close behind a Tesla vehicle onto which had been mounted a large wind shield pretending to be a clock.” – Ross Tucker, The Pursuit of the sub-2 marathon: where to next?

At the Endurance Research Conference at the University of Kent [in September 2015], Andy Jones gave a talk about the prospects for a two-hour marathon in which he argued that dramatically reducing air resistance could make an enormous and immediate difference. Simply arranging for a runner to draft behind others all the way to the finish rather than just to the halfway mark, he argued, would enable a runner to go two to three minutes faster.” – Alex Hutchinson in Runner’s World, Does Drag Matter for Runners? (Oct 2015)

Notice to readers: If you were inspired and elevated by Eliud Kipchoge’s tremendous run on Saturday morning, I encourage you to SKIP this blog post. If you are tired of all the negativity out there, and think that any criticism of Nike and the breaking2 project just brings down the sport of distance running, I encourage you to STOP reading now. If you believe that Nike “won” and Nike’s critics “lost,” then you really would be happier if you returned another day, when I’m back to writing about high school athletes, quiet trails, and the seasons of an aging runner.

Readers, you have been warned! Continue reading

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Two hours: A Writing Exercise

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[A moment ago, I started a stopwatch. I plan to sit here at my computer for the next two hours and write about Nike’s ‘breaking2’ publicity stunt for that exact amount of time. I’ll try to fix typos and other errors as I go, but one way or the other, when the watch hits 2:00:00, I’m done. Wish me luck!] Continue reading

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Red-Letter Days

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There they are, prominent among countless undistinguished runs dutifully recorded within one’s physical or virtual training log, the workouts that tower above the rest like monuments. They are the long, long runs, or the special blocks, or the hardest track workouts you’ve ever done. They are the red-letter days in your own personal Running Book of Devotions. Continue reading

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Sharing Battle Road

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So here it is May, and in Southern New England spring is in full riot. Gardens have flowers again, and trees have green leaves. It finally feels like it’s OK to put the storm windows up and the screens down. It’s not going to jinx anything to bring out the lawn chairs and the backyard picnic table. Continue reading

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In Memoriam: Tom Fleming

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He was high energy, very empathetic, and had a remarkable ability to reach a wide range of kids, boys and girls. He didn’t run an easy classroom but it was a great classroom. Third graders who heard about him kept their fingers crossed that of our three sections of fourth grade, they’d end up in his.” – Tom Nammack, headmaster of Montclair Kimberly Academy, where Tom Fleming taught and coached

In this era of manufactured marathon heroes, I know the real ones. Tom [Fleming] was one.” – Bill Rodgers Continue reading

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Boston, be my shining star

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Some things should be obvious.

It should be obvious that the Boston Marathon is not like London or Berlin or Chicago. It should be understood that, above all, the Boston Marathon is a competition, not a time trial, a test of physical and spiritual fortitude that humbles you and — sometimes, if you’re lucky — exalts you. It should be self-evident that Boston’s unique combination of downhills, uphills, fickle winds, and unpredictable weather favor certain athletes and destroy others. It should be known by now that Boston doesn’t need an asterisk; Boston is what it is, and an asterisk doesn’t begin to capture its subtle and singular challenges. Continue reading

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