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Posted: Monday August 10, 2009 11:27AM; Updated: Monday August 10, 2009 11:28AM
Tim Layden Tim Layden >
VIEWPOINT

My Bucket List

derby.bucketlist.jpg
As Mine That Bird proved in 2009, the Kentucky Derby can be won by any horse on the starting line.
Bill Frakes/SI

1. Boston Marathon

I was once a good runner. Not Olympic/NCAA good, but better-than-most-road racers good. I ran 32:50 for 10K and 50:59 for 15K and several times tried training for a marathon, but on each occasion got injured. This was 25 years ago. Now I have arthritis in one knee and can't run much, so I ride a bike. I have covered many Boston Marathons, but never ran it. I wish I had. I wish I had just sucked it up, qualified, and run it once relatively slowly, even in the years long after my prime.

2. Tour de France

Like I said, I'm "cyclist'' now. I was better as a runner. Still, before I cash out I'd like to get across the pond, rent a bike and attempt some of the climbs in Le Tour. I have no great desire to watch or cover the race. I think many of the top racers still use drugs, and it's a lousy spectator event anywhere but in front of a television screen. But I would love to be in the saddle, grinding my way up Alpe d'Huez.

3. Big waves

I am no surfer. But I love waves. Love to body surf and body board in the wimpy New England shorebreaks. Just the power of those mini-rolls amazes me, the way you can get blown out of your bathing suit. I also love Riding Giants, filmmaker Stacy Peralta's homage to the timeline of big-wave surfing. Someday I would love to sit with somebody's crew at Maverick's (Northern California) or Peahi/Jaws (north shore of Maui) when the surf is monstrous. Just to see it up close.

4. Big mountain climbing

It's too late for me to learn technical climbing, but not too late to climb some tall mountains that can be hiked with equipment (crampons ice, axes). Hood, Rainer, Kilimanjaro. Each is a significant challenge and each would be a huge accomplishment.

5. Augusta National

I've never covered The Masters. Never set foot on the grounds. When I do, I'd love it if the bag over my shoulder contains golf clubs and not a laptop. Although I would be happy to tweet about it when I stiff a six-iron at 16.

My favorite: The Kentucky Derby.

Not only is the Derby an iconic American sporting event, where the wealthy and the poor gather in one place and drink the same whiskey and bet on the same animals, but they also do it on the same grounds where the race was contested just a decade after the Civil War. You think Wrigley Field is historic? Churchill Downs was 41 years old when the Cubs first played a game at Wrigley. War Admiral ran right here.

Then there is the journalism angle: There are 20 "players'' in the Derby. Any one of them can win the race, and the entire thing, start to finish, is over in two minutes. One moment you're standing at the finish, clueless as to what you will soon be writing, two minutes later you're chasing a story. At the Super Bowl, at the Final Four, there are hours to digest the unfolding result. Not at the Derby. It starts, it's over. For those two minutes, your heart pounds as if it's trying to escape your chest, and 160,000 people are in full throat around you. In any year, those are almost always the most nerve-wracking two minutes in sportswriting -- and two of the best.

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NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson had the ultimate "Man's Day" -- his term -- a few years back when he was on the sidelines for both the AFC and NFC championship games. (A bottle of Grey Goose also was involved.)

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Michael Bamberger
Mavericks, in Half Moon Bay, Calif., a half-hour south of San Francisco is one of the best large-size surf breaks in the world. As I can barely stand on two feet of warm Atlantic mush, the idea of surfing one of the most radical waves in all of wavedom ...

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When it comes to watching livestock race through the streets of an ancient European city, this turf writer remains partial to the 90-second spectacle of the Palio di Siena. Twice a year, every July and August, the cobblestones of this Tuscan hill town's Piazza del Campo are covered with a thick layer of dirt, and its stone walls are layered ...

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Adam Duerson
By some stroke of luck I got to attend Super Bowl XL in 2006 as a "photo assistant" (meaning that I had to hand rolls of film to Walter Iooss Jr., who sat next to me, every several minutes). It was the Steelers versus the Seahawks ...

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Michael Farber
Bone weary of a manicured lawn and you-da-man/in-the-hole galleries, and distinctly unmoved by the self-consciousness of Augusta, I yearn for golf au natural. A little rain. A lot of wind. Gore-Tex instead of Spandex. Bump and runs. Fescue up to Anthony ...

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Damon Hack
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Lee Jenkins
I have never been to Omaha, but I imagine a baseball utopia smack in the heartland where for two weeks every June teams from the South and West Coast gather to eat grade-A steak and settle the one major college championship that is still relatively pure. I watch at least half-a-dozen games on television every year ...

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Peter King
Not sure where, but in places like Billings, Mont., and Casper, Wyo., with the sun setting over the left-field fence, with purple mountains majesty above thy fruited plain. Preferably with a local microbrew in my right hand.

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Tim Layden
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Jack McCallum
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S.L. Price
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Alan Shipnuck
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