The death in Hagerstown, Md. last week of Representative Goodloe Byron, 49, of an apparent heart attack during a 15-mile training run along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath does not prove or disprove anything about the relationship of running to heart disease, but it does serve as a reminder of how little is known about that relationship.
Byron had run six Boston Marathons, his best time being 3:28.40 in 1974 when he was 44 years old. He was 5'7", weighed 130 pounds, ran almost every day for at least half an hour and he had not smoked in more than 25 years. On the other hand he had a family history of early death from heart disease, and two cardiologists had advised him to stop running because of a "severe abnormality" discovered in tests nine months ago.
Some doctors see running as a form of medical insurance. A California pathologist says flatly, "Completion of a marathon in under four hours is permanent immunity against a heart attack due to arteriosclerosis."
But for every such conclusion there are those who say, "Hogwash," or words to that effect, and more who have reached no conclusion at all. As Coleman McCarthy, a 40-year-old runner, wrote in his Washington Post column the day after Byron's death, "One certainty is clear; a ton of grant money is available for more studies, with researchers ready to run up Heartbreak Hill to get it."
In a medical debate that involves America's hottest new sport and America's longtime leading killer, the more opinions the better. An ounce of honest maybe is worth a pound of undocumented sure.
Violence, it has been said, is as American as cherry pie. Make that pie � la mode. Baskin-Robbins, once the gentle purveyor of ice creams such as Pablo Picashew and Here Come the Fudge, has named its latest flavor of the month Quarterback Crunch.
Where will it all lead? Banana Blitz? Block Walnut? Any Given Sundae?
Bob Short, the man who once owned the Washington Senators, is now close to becoming one. In the Democratic senatorial primary in Minnesota on Sept. 12, Short, these days an Edina trucking executive, upset the Democratic Establishment's candidate, Donald Fraser, by 3,000 votes and is now favored to beat the Republican candidate, David Durenberger, in November.