- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
MICHIGAN CITY, IND.: MARCH 21, 1969, 7:30 P.M.
It is Friday evening. I'm lying down on the couch. I test my right thigh with one hand. It feels different from the left thigh. I think my leg is asleep. My circulatory system is failing. I am certain I have cancer, or gangrene, or podeoprosis, or something Oriental. I'm going to die.
My only worry is whether or not death will come in the next 31 days. After that I don't particularly care, because I will have run in the Boston Marathon exactly one month from today. I have been anticipating running once more in this greatest of all American long-distance running events for nearly a year, training 60 to 70 miles a week on the roads near my home. I hate to waste all that effort by dying a few days too early.
Moreover, I hate to disappoint my wife Rose. I have run in seven Boston Marathons and each time she has stayed home. This year, for the first time, I plan to take her along as a spectator. Moreover, before the race we intend to spend two or three days in New York attending Broadway plays and spending my money on Fifth Avenue. Sort of a second honeymoon. But what a way to end a honeymoon—by running 26 miles 385 yards. Nevertheless, if I die before April 21 she never will forgive me.
MICHIGAN CITY: APRIL 7, 11:30 A.M.
Steve Kearney, a junior at Ball State, is home for Easter vacation. We work out together. I run 20 miles, but Steve only goes half that distance because of an injured leg. Athletes must learn to live with pain. Steve also plans to run at Boston. Everybody plans to run at Boston. I received a letter yesterday from Jock Semple of the sponsoring Boston Athletic Association, and he anticipates 1,400 entries.
The Boston Marathon owes its position alongside other sporting events, such as the Kentucky Derby, the Indianapolis 500 and Wimbledon, to tradition. In addition to being the most popular marathon race in the United States it is the oldest. In 1896 the organizers of the first modern Olympic Games in Greece decided to include a race from the plain of Marathon to Athens. This race of about 25 miles would commemorate the run by the legendary Pheidippides, who in the fifth century B.C. is supposed to have announced the Greek triumph over the invading Persians by shouting, "Rejoice, we conquer." He then died. That provided one hell of a precedent. Anyway, several Bostonians were at the 1896 Olympic race and the following spring they organized a "marathon" in their home town.
John J. McDermott of New York's Pastime Athletic Club won the first Boston Marathon, covering nearly 25 miles in slightly less than three hours. Early marathon distances varied considerably. At the 1908 Olympics, officials added extra yardage so the race could begin at Windsor Castle and thus permit the royal family to view the start. The 26 miles 385 yards from the castle to the Olympic stadium finish line soon became the official distance for all marathons, although the Boston course was not increased to that length until 1927. Runners having difficulty finishing the last mile blame it on the Queen of England.
MICHIGAN CITY: APRIL 14, 6 P.M.
My wife and three children are seated with me at the dinner table when a red-clad figure bursts through the door. "I'm in the 12th mile of a 17-mile workout," it explains. "I need a glass of water." It lunges into the kitchen.