When I heard that our founder Johnny had been picked as Runner of the Century by Runner’s World, my initial thought on the award was that they picked the guy that really loved it the most. One can debate and compare the records of all the greats, from Demar to Rodgers, with various and sundry points of value according to the voter’s opinion, but isn’t it nice that the winner’s unsurpassed 61 Bostons bespeaks the mindset of a man who first and foremost absolutely loves running. Now and always, that will always be Johnny Kelley’s lasting image: a man forever involved in exactly what he loved to do.
It was great to see Will Kadunc qualify for Boston at Ocean State with his ever-so-close 3:24, exactly what he needed. Now, actually getting him on the bus next spring is, unfortunately, a whole different matter. Weight has to be down, bod’s got to be sound, mood’s got to be on the GO!, and they very stars have to be aligned right for ol’ Willie to grace the hallowed ol’ course with his presence. Can’t make the Boston attempts too frequently, understand. Stay tuned . . .
A veritable star is in the making, about to emerge from the unsung and unlikely ranks of Kevin’s Wednesday night jogging classes. I’ll just say that her first name is Elizabeth, she has no prior running history, and she’ll likely make her debut at one of the Grand Prix races this winter. But Bill Lord was watching her go the other night and idly wondering just what her VO2 Max might be . . . she can bring it, as the boys say, and on pretty much one workout a week.
Almost, but not quite, included Paul Fendler down to the Nifty Fifty ultra last month. He would have been a cinch for the 50K. I was perusing through some old Ultra running magazines and came upon Paul’s victory in the New York Metropolitan 50 Miler back in 1986. Paul was 30 years old at the time and covered the distance in 5:59:56. He also had a 14 hour-plus 100 miler about that time, too. So that, coupled with his recent 16:56 5K down in Chatham at the Turkey Trot, says volumes about the hoary old adage of ultras robbing one of leg speed . . . Along those lines, Chancellor Challenge 100K winner Jim Garcia cam back from the Leadville 100 miler this summer to post a 15:47 5K and a 25:47 five miler.
Dublin was beautiful, like the rest of Ireland. Jane Hattemer ran a debut marathon in 4:22 at age 48. Seven months from “walking a bit to get away from the stuffy classroom and into a little fresh air,” to doing intervals on a wet track on a rainy night, at which Dave Baker dryly observed, “Tough coach.”
Speaking of the Bakers, Dustin broke 28 minutes for a certified five miles at Fitchburg’s Thanksgiving race. That’s a 5:36 pace, folks. The kid keeps on improving. And Marilyn, and Maryland! won the female seniors by a scant two seconds in a huge field in the same race, an annual fixture on the Baker running schedule. With Dave coming back from an injury and Courtney now competing regularly, there has to be a family tag team relay out there somewhere, doesn’t there?
Received my official invitation to Western States the other day. To answer tow of the most often-asked questions: yes, you really do see rattle snakes on the course, (as well as 14-inch pine cones), and yes, you really do run from the snows of the upper Sierra Nevada mountain ridges to the 100 degree heat of the canyons. You simply have to see the course to believe it. Its pristine beauty is massive, breath-taking, and really quite overwhelming. I just feel so fortunate to be granted a second chance this quickly. Now, I have six months to get ready. I’ll be 59, and don’t expect to get many more opportunities.
See you on the trails,