Lance Armstrong to run Boston ’08

21 01 2008

OK, this is pretty damn cool.

Think I can take him?

> Lance Armstrong to run 2008 Boston Marathon 


Sir Lance-a-lot and the NYC Marathon

5 11 2007

I can’t believe it’s been a full calendar year since I last spouted off about Armstrong running NYC. Can it really have been 12 months? 

He was back again this year, finishing in 2:46.

> Full story from the AP

As the story sez:

“I enjoyed it much more this year,” said Armstrong, who finished 698th in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 43 seconds Sunday. “Last year, I had no idea what to expect with 26.2 miles, and I paid for it.”

The seven-time Tour de France winner trained harder, was injury-free and drew upon the experience of running in the showcase event. Last year, he called the five-borough race “the hardest physical thing I have ever done.”

Armstrong looked fresh in his yellow jersey at the finish after hobbling in last year.

“I came in better prepared, but perhaps I started faster than I wanted,” Armstrong said. “I sort of got out there and realized I was either going to finish OK or be crawling home.”

Armstrong said he needed about four months to recover from the shin splints last year, when he finished 856th. This time, he trained more consistently and included faster 18- and 19-mile runs.

Well, well … it looks like even Tour de France winners have something to learn when it comes to training. The lesson was, as it always is, RESPECT THE DISTANCE.

You can take this as my official end to whining about Lance.

BTW – Full props to Paula “The Phenom” Radcliffe and Martin “The Magnificent” Lel for taking home the top honours from the Big Apple.

I love Lel’s quote: “”To be a champion, you have to be a champion fighting with the man.”

I’m not sure I know what it means, but it sounds bad-ass.

Tragedy in New York, star runner Ryan Shay dies at 28

3 11 2007

Very sad news from the U.S. Men’s Olympic Trials today, in case you hadn’t heard. From the AP:

NEW YORK — Top distance runner Ryan Shay died during the U.S. men’s Olympic marathon trials Saturday, overshadowing what was supposed to be a showcase day for the sport.

Shay collapsed about 5½ miles into the race and was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:46 a.m., New York Road Runners president Mary Wittenberg said. He was 28.

“It cuts a knife through everybody’s hearts,” said Wittenberg, whose group organized the race.

Shay was the 2003 U.S. marathon champion. Absolutely heartbreaking. My thoughts go out to his family.

His death cast a shadow over the day’s proceedings, including the incredible accomplishment of three young American runners.

Ryan Hall, who had never run a marathon before April, won in a trials record time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 2 seconds. Dathan Ritzenhein followed in 2:11:07 and Brian Sell was third in 2:11:40.

They’re all going to Beijing to represent the U.S. in the marathon. Meb Keflezighi, the reigning silver medallist from Athens, won’t be there. He finished eighth. Neither will Khalid Khannouchi, the 35-year-old former world-record-holder. He was fourth.

The young guns made them take a back seat. Will the 25-year-old Hall, 24-year-old Ritzenhein or 29-year-old Sell come through in China? Can’t wait to see.

Don’t forget, tomorrow is the big show — the NYC Marathon. Can’t believe it’s been a whole year since last year’s debut of Sir Lance-a-lot (of pain, that is).

Some YouTube-age to get you psyched:

The Chicago gong show

9 10 2007

I can’t even imagine the scenario.

You’ve been running a marathon for 3.5 hours, maybe closing in the finish line, definitely closing in on some serious fatigue in temperatures that feel like 40 degrees Celsius with the humidex.

 Then, you’re told the race is cancelled. Sorry, time to go home. It’s just too hot.

 As I’m sure you know by now, that was the situation in Chicago this weekend, as one of the world’s biggest marathons was shut down due to the record-shattering heat. From The Associated Press:

Chicago Marathon organizers defended their preparation for a brutally hot marathon as runners told stories of fainting or vomiting by the roadside and of angry participants detouring into convenience stores in search of the hydration they say they couldn’t find along the course.

A 35-year-old Michigan man who had a heart disorder died and scores went to hospitals during the 26.2-mile race, which organizers halted about 3 1/2 hours after the start because of fears of heat exhaustion.


“We did feel we had more than adequate water supplies out there,” said Shawn Platt, senior vice president of LaSalle Bank, the marathon’s sponsor.

Platt said planners did not anticipate runners would use drinking water to cool themselves when misting stations and sponges weren’t available. He acknowledged many stations were set up toward the end of the route instead of early on when runners first started showing signs of fatigue.

“Probably we should have been a little more proactive about that,” executive race director Carey Pinkowski said.

Signs of trouble came early.

“By the first or second water station, they were out, and they were apologizing, saying, ‘Just run a mile or two and there’ll be more water,'” said Merrie Ann Nall, 59, of DeKalb.

What a frickin’ nightmare. Where even to begin with that.

I honestly don’t know how I would react to those kinds of conditions. I can’t honestly say I would have obeyed the “bullhorns” telling me to stop after months of hard work and preparation, but could you risk serious heat exhaustion and illness to continue?

Meanwhile, our friends at the AP also asked today: “Are big-city marathons becoming too big?” Not a question we need to grapple with very often in small-scale Canada, where a 3,000-runner full marathon counts as a decent-sized field.

My biggest races have been a 30,000 (Marine Corps Marathon) and 25,000 (Honolulu) and let me say — those were just huge. Frankly, once a field gets beyond a certain size, you just lose perspective as a runner. I’ve never seen a New York or a Boston live, but can only imagine the added impact of 10,000 more runners and hundreds of thousands of additional spectators.

I think the point of the article is one we circle back to in running chit-chat: Should everybody run a marathon? Is that reasonable?

But one thing is for sure: contrary to the lead on the AP story, I’ll never run a big-city race in a chicken suit or G-string. You have my personal guarantee on that.

BTW – Picked up this little bit of youtube gold from The Joggler’s site. Good catch, Michal. 

The Joggler sets a world record!

2 10 2007

In my haste and sleep-deprived confusion after the Scotia Waterfront Marathon, I neglected to mention one of the biggest stories of the day.

T.O. runner — and all-around great guy — Michal Kapral set the world joggling record with a lights-out 2:50:06. From his blog, I see he even chewed a little gum throughout his history-making run.

(For the record, this author couldn’t run 42k and chew gum, let alone keep three beanbags in the air. Kudos to Michal.)

For a little background on the Joggler, check out this slideshow from the good folks at

Check Kenny’s site for a pic of the Joggler in action. Thanks!

Update: I’ve been up to a few other things over the last few days, so I was saddened to learn today about the fatality at the end of the Scotia race. As the Toronto Star reported:

Running was David Youkhana’s passion.

The 65-year-old Toronto man always took good care of himself and liked to volunteer, but three years ago he started to do them together.

He began running for a cause.

“He loved to do charity events, he loved to run for a cause,” his daughter Nahrain Sciulli said yesterday.

Youkhana collapsed at the start of Sunday’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and died at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Youkhana’s elder daughter said he began running marathons a few years ago even though he’d had a mild heart attack 11 years ago. He was careful about his health and made a point of meeting with his doctor before a race to get the green light, she said.

And he was proud when he achieved his running dreams.

My thoughts go out to his family.

Waterfront — Good times all around

30 09 2007


Great day along the lakeshore today.

Ideal weather conditions. Believe it was about 61 F/16 C at race time. Very little wind, a striking contrast to last year’s gale-force treats.

The race has grown a lot in recent years, and has grown up nicely as well — unlike other local marathons that have creaked under the strain of bigger fields.

The organization was uniformly strong, from the system of ‘seeding’ faster runners at the front to the barriers that kept the runners, literally, on course. Sorry it made it a bit harder for spectators and residents to get around, but the end result was a smooth, easy-to-follow course for the participants.

more crowd

Kudos to the organizers for bringing the 5k into the mix as well by having the finishers come alongside the half-marathoners. Was good to see that race get a little time in the spotlight.

There were a number of small touches, too, from the free “Canada” wristbands to the spirited bands and cheering stations along the course.

As for the times, we have a 2:09:30 by come-from-behind winner John Kelai, the fastest marathon ever on Canadian soil. What a finish watching Daniel Rono chase him to the finish, just six seconds behind.

Congrats to Kenny, as well, for a sizzling 1:31:33. Good luck at the MCM. And my sister, Erin, beat her goal time by four minutes and didn’t even yell at her brother for almost making her late by being too flipping casual about getting to the start line on time.


My sister, Erin, right, and wife, Julie, in the cool-down area.

As for me — that was perhaps the most enjoyable race of my life. Not a PR, but close, but that didn’t really matter much. It’s the first time I’ve been out in a loooong time without the pressure of needing or wanting a specific time.

I had an absolute blast from start (getting to the corral at 6:59:55) to the high-fiving, fist-pumping antics along the last 200 metres. I’m cringing at the thought of the race photos.

Not bad considering the three glasses of wine last night, and the five hours of sleep. Damn, 5:15 a.m. comes around early.

Cheers to my mom and dad for making the drive up to see it happen, and to Julie, always my bedrock. (You have to say that about the person who brings your dry clothes to the finish line.)


Big screen near finish = fun

roy thomson

Sports drinks and sunshine near Roy Thomson after it’s all said and done.

Expo Waterfront and centre

29 09 2007

scotia expo

Don’t want to blow too much sunshine in the general direction of the Waterfront Marathon, but they very much do know how to put on a successful race expo.

Aside: Yes, I’m biased because a) I always manage to get to this one on Friday afternoon (when it’s quiet) and b) it’s usually the first race, and hence the first race expo of the fall.

It has:

* Consistently good speakers on stage (Bingham, Stanton, etc.)
* A wide open space at the convention centre
* Unfailingly friendly volunteers — and I mean *really* friendly and helpful
* Nifty little extras, like this year’s “picture with the race trophy” freebie.

If only they had a sampler tap of beer like at the Marine Corps in Washington. But I digress.

Another source of happiness: I love this little quirk with the race bib…

race bib

“Sub-elite”? That’s what you’re called if you’re running a 1:35 or less. Sure, it’s a wee bit of easy flattery. But I don’t care if it’s preceded by “sub” or “quasi” or “not really an” — seeing the word elite next to that race number is a damn fine feeling indeed. Watch out Kenyans, I just might catch ya. Or not.

Speaking of, probably turn in for the night. Can’t believe we need to be down there for 6:30ish. What will the Nuit Blanche stragglers think of the early morning masses? Or are we just another art installation?

Oh yeah: has full coverage.