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May/June 2012 - Level Renner

May/June 2012 - Level Renner

Lane 3: Commentary Moore

Lane 3: Commentary Moore on day 31. Photo by Christine Racine. 2:00 vention activities for the rest of the day. The last day before I left, I even managed to sneak in a half marathon, winning my age group and getting the additional 5 miles I needed for the day during my warmup and cool down before catching a flight back home. For the final 2 weeks, I finally had to break down and start splitting up my day into multiple runs. At first, I’d just run half my mileage and take a short break at the house to eat before heading out for the other half. Finally, though, I needed a few hours between each run. I don’t think that running is the real challenge at the end, when you are running 196 miles (or in my case 200) in the final week. There were only a few days when I wasn’t enjoying myself while I was out for the miles. The real trouble comes from how much of your day those miles require. The longest time I spent putting one foot in front of the other on any given day amounted to about 5 hours, and there were only a half dozen days where I ran for more than 4 hours. Many of those days, however, had a few hours between each run, plus the time it took to get myself ready to go out for the first run or to wind down I ran 1 more mile every day for 31 days, 504.1 miles total, with 200 of them coming in the final week. It took me 75 hours and 57 minutes. from the last one. It’s also amazing how time consuming eating the number of calories that’s required can be. There were a few minor injuries that I experienced along the way, but I was able to overcome them. On the final day, 27 other people joined me at Camp Sunshine for a Fat Ass 50K, and 5 of us finished the complete distance. The course was mostly on trails, it was a beautiful day with some great lake views and forest solitude, and it was all capped off with a trip to a local winery. In the end, I ran 1 more mile every day for 31 days, 504.1 miles total, with 200 of them coming in the final week. It took me 75 hours and 57 minutes. I don’t mind failing when I try something difficult (January 2010), but I can tell you one thing for sure: it feels much better to succeed. You can learn more about the 1 More Mile for Sunshine Challenge and watch the daily video updates for each day’s run at http:// www.1moremileforsunshine.com. Blaine Moore “runs” the website, www.news.runtowin.com. When? June 10, 2012 at 9:00am Where? Epiphany Parish Church, 62 Front St, Walpole, MA (junction of Routes 1A & 27) Why? To benefit the Walpole HS XC & Track Scholarship Programs Course? Scenic Rolling Country Roads Awards? 3 Deep in 14 Divisions www.villagefair5k.com 28

Lane 3: Commentary The IAAF came to their senses and Paula has her record back. At least that’s over with. Or is it? Radcliffe’s record stands, but according to the IAAF, in the future women will only be allowed to set a new world record for the marathon in womenonly races. Brilliant! Now, conceivably, a woman could run the exact same race on the exact same course under the exact same conditions as Paula, run a faster race, and not get the world record because she ran alongside men. Is that fair? The odd thing is that this is all the culmination of more than 50 years of trying to make racing “fair.” How did we get here? For most of history when humans raced, there was this thing called a “winner.” Each race had one of them. Everybody started at the same time, ran the same course, and the winner was whoever made it to the finish line first. If it was a serious race at the highest levels of competition, the winner was usually a man in his twenties. We all recognized that young men were the best athletes, we celebrated them for their feats, and we cherished the outliers, like Dale Greig or Johnny Kelley, in part because of their contrast with the typical form of athletic accomplishment. In the 1960s, that began to change. Maybe it was part of the social upheaval of the time. Maybe it was because more people were running, people who weren’t as steeped in the traditional culture of competition. Maybe it was the extra exposure from television. Maybe it was the additional money brought in by the extra people, the sporting goods companies, and the TV ads. For whatever reason, races started to recognize additional winners to make things more “fair.” The early 60s were when more male runners started to hang around past their competitive prime. That was a good thing, but it didn’t take long for 40- and 50-year old men to realize that it wasn‘t “fair” that they had to compete with younger men, so road races started giving separate awards to older runners. At about the same time, women started jumping into events that were formerly solely the domain of men. It wasn’t “fair” to exclude women from those races. Of course, almost immediately people realized that it wasn’t “fair” to require women It Isn’t Fair by Ray Charbonneau to compete with men, so races began to award separate prizes to the fastest women. Things quickly proceeded to a point where it was “fair” for women to set up races that excluded men, starting with the L’eggs Mini Marathon in 1972. Races began to add awards for wheelchair racers in the 1970s, and as those became common, divisions for handcycles, mobility-impaired runners, and other types of differently-abled runners soon followed. In the 1980s, races added Clydesdale and Filly awards for heavier runners because it wasn’t “fair” that they had to compete with less weighty runners. However, some women resented being in a category named after horses, so the Athena category was born. No one who actually runs marathons believes that Boston is an easier course than the flat tracks at Berlin or London. Today, races have awards for fastest local runners, fastest costumed runners, fastest first-time racers, or even fastest jogglers. In smaller races, it can be hard to avoid going home without a prize, no matter how slow you might be. And you know what? All that's great. Everybody gets a chance to win something, but everybody still knows who the real winner is. But sports aren’t just about winning or losing on a particular day. In 1961 when Roger Maris hit another home run, it wasn’t just part of yet another Yankee victory, it was another step in Maris’ chase after Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. Just this past NFL season, Drew Brees passed for more yards than any quarterback ever has. In running, we want to know who wins the race, and we also want to know how that person compares to the best runners ever. That’s when the real problem starts. Unfortunately, we can't take Johnny Hayes, Abebe Bikila, Ron Hill, and Haile Gebrselassie in their primes and put them all on the same course to fight it out. The best we can do is take the times from individual races and compare them to determine who’s best. That’s simple, and that’s how it was done for years, but it turns out that simply comparing times from different races isn’t "fair.” In the 1970s, statisticians first developed “age-graded” tables, to help compare performances between runners of different ages. Other people created weightgraded tables followed inevitably by ageweight tables. But these were just for fun. No one seriously considered using them to determine world records. In shorter events, runners have always been faster on the track than on the road, so conditions for record times have been relatively easy to standardize. Races had to use approved timing methods and the shortest races had to take wind speed and direction into consideration. Every once in a while, officials reject a record time in the 100 meter dash because of a tailwind that’s a tenth of a mile-per-hour too high, but track has a long tradition of official organizations controlling things at the highest levels, so these regulations aren’t too onerous. Marathons are different. Marathons are held on the roads on courses that vary widely. For years, people took that in stride. The marathon world record was simply the fastest marathon ever run. There was only a controversy if there was a question of whether the course had been measured accurately. But in the early 2000s, the bureaucrats at the IAAF got into managing marathon records and things started to get out of hand. Once the IAAF took over, marathon records only counted if they were set on approved courses. That’s resulted in a situation where Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02 at the 2011 Boston Marathon is "the fastest Marathon ever run" according to the IAAF, but not the world record. It’s a travesty if a fast time at the Boston Marathon, the world’s most famous marathon, doesn’t qualify as a record. I doubt Mutai thinks that’s “fair.” No one who actually runs marathons believes that Boston is an easier course than the flat tracks at Berlin or London. But even if you take an extreme course like St. George, where you could conceivably have a tailwind and a 2500 foot elevation 29

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