In a race against the clock, excitement is often the loser

By the time most of you read this, Shalane Flanagan will have broken Deena Kastor’s eight-year-old marathon American record of 2:19:36.
Or she won’t have.
And that’s the problem with this, or any other, record attempt: It’s a Pass-Fail exam, all black and white, no shades of grey.
finish-lineclockSo while some may set their alarms to 2:30 a.m. on the East Coast to follow Flanagan’s attempt in Berlin online, I won’t be among them. I’ll be up early enough Sunday, on my way to time a local trail race, and I’ll check the Twitter feeds and message boards to see how she did, and if she was successful, file the time away in my memory bank of other semi-useful (or semi-useless, depending on your point of view) athletic facts and figures. Continue reading

Beyond Words

NHFatBroad

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Then, there are those times when no words will do, when our language, no matter how richly textured, is inadequate to convey the image observed.
Yesterday, just before the halfway point of the USA 20 km championships in New Haven, was one that fell squarely in the latter category.
As the men’s lead pack approached the city Green, a rather large woman, clad in flip flops and burgundy velour pants, began to cross the street in their path.
Thinking she was simply oblivious to the oncoming racers, warnings to get out of the way were yelled from the pace vehicle.
But instead of stopping and letting the men pass, the woman hopped right in with them, running along for several meters, an impressive feat given her footwear, clothing, and girth.
It provided a brief moment of levity for the leaders, and perhaps enabled them to momentarily forget the miserable conditions they were racing in, with temperatures and humidity both in the mid-80s.
Before the day was out, photos of this incongruous runner had gone viral on social media sites, and the following morning was the lead photo in the New Haven Register’s race story.
While the photo’s (and the woman’s) five minutes of fame has doubtless just about expired, for Labor Day 2014, it was the athletic image of the moment, right up there with streakers at the Super Bowl or animals on the field at a baseball game.