If you live near Haddonfield NJ, come and hear my talk at the Wednesday, May 14th meeting of the South Jersey Athletic Club. I'll be giving a presentation on MY BEST RACE -- admission is free. See below for more info.
Sixty years ago today, May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute mile by running the four laps of Oxford’s Iffley Road track in a time of 3:59.4.
When one considers that the busy medical student lacked the sophisticated training of today’s elite athletes, ran that race on a speed-killing cinder track, and could usually spare just 45 minutes a day to train, that accomplishment seems even more extraordinary. Bannister became a neurologist when his track career ended, and later became Sir Roger Bannister after being knighted by the queen in 1975.
Recently, Bannister discolosed in a radio interview that he was diagnosed two years ago with Parkinson's Disease, but he remains active as a walker and in good spirits. Here is a good account of the famous race.
One of the highlights (if not the highliight) of my trip to England many years ago was taking a run on the Iffley Road Track where Bannister made running history. It has since been renamed in his honor, and if you ever get a chance to visit Oxford, by all means take a lap (or four) on that piece of hallowed ground.
The following link should answer all your questions about where to find live coverage of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.
Live Coverage information
If you want to see it up close and personal, here is a spectator's guide you can download, full of great info and a course map.
And if you need inspiration to qualify for the Boston Marathon, or run your first race, or just some encouragement to keep running as you are, check out
MY BEST RACE -- 50 runners and the finish line they'll never forget.
The first day of Spring,
Daffodils should be here soon.
But first there’s the mud.
What a winter here!
So cold and so snowy too.
Is it over yet?
All that winter snow,
I run through the last remnants,
Melting on the trail
Racing will start soon
It’s time to do some hill work
Quads won’t be happy
Downstairs in winter
Doing much treadmill running
Thank goodness for Spring!
Running in the park
or on a nice hilly trail
Just watch out for dogs!
My Best Race excerpt
In Running Times magazine
Have you seen it yet?
I've talked before about adding variety to your running to keep it fresh. Things like trail races, stair climbs, and running different or unique distances.
The guy in this video added variety to his repertoire, by attempting to be the first human to run the loop-the-loop; something only skateboarders, Hot Wheels cars, roller coasters, and cyclists have successfully completed.
For the video, go here -- and don't try this at home!
Stair climbs in skyscrapers around the world are referred to as vertical road races. The ultimate stair climb is the Empire State Building Run-up which is 86 stories to the top of the world's most famous skyscraper. The brainchild of Fred Lebow, the Run-Up has been on the New York Road Runners annual calendar since 1978 and will be run again tomorrow (Feb. 5), that is, if the competitors can get through the ice and snow which is in the forecast for NYC.
The fastest runners climb the 1,576 steps in an amazing 10 minutes! For more on stia climbs, go to towerrunning.com.
A preview of a review of my book from Rich Benyo, editor at
Marathon & Beyond.
(this will be published on their website)
My Best Race. 50 Runners and the Finish Line They’ll Never Forget
by Chris Cooper
Every runner who’s been at it a while can readily cite both a best and a worst race. For many of us, our worst race stands out more clearly than our best because many of us tend to learn more easily from failures than from successes: the more spectacular the failure, the more enduring the lesson.
Let’s face it: Unless you are perfection personified, you’ve had more failures than successes.
But a stunning success, whether accidental or well-planned, often stands out because it illuminates what amounts to a peak performance, a race where everything clicked and brilliance shone. It should be noted that a successful race does not mean that you have to win the race. If that were so, the rate of success at today’s mega-races would be pitiful.
One of the delightful aspects of My Best Race is that not all of the 50 racers who shared their best race with Chris Cooper won that particular race, and of those who did, it is often pleasantly surprising the learn that their best race was not necessarily the race they are most famous for.
In fact, in some cases, the best race occurred back in high school or college and not necessarily on the professional circuit. And, another aspect that keeps the book fresh, is that the author does not only deal with professionals. He presents a nice mix of pros and amateurs, and often the amateurs have better stories to tell than do the pros.
Cooper, whose previous book was Long May You Run: all. things. running, is a sub-3:00 marathoner and host of the blog “Writing on the Run,” so he is plugged into his subject and able to access some of the more accomplished racers in the sport. His book contains best races from Kara Goucher and Jeff Galloway, Zola Budd Pieterse and Scott Tinley, Marty Liquori and Craig Virgin. It is a virtual who’s who of running over the past four decades. But he balances out all of the star power with racers we’ve never heard of—until now.
The recreation of the prime races are long enough to give pertinent details, but short enough to sample a handful of them at each sitting. Cooper does a nice job of giving sufficient background on the specific runner while at the same time not slowing down the race in question. At the end of each race, the runner shares a simple piece of advice; none of them are especially profound, but they are all practical and easy enough to fold into our own running and racing. Things like: “Plan a strategy and don’t forget to execute that plan in the race. You can’t go into a race and just wing it.” That’s from Miguel Galeana’s account of the 2000 Chuckanut 7-Mile Foot Race. You’re right. I did not know who Miguel Galeana was and I had never heard of the Chuckanut 7-Mile Foot Race, but that glaring ignorance has now been corrected.
Although it was tempting to race through the book in a handful of settings, it was more enjoyable to read two or three race accounts at a time and let them ferment overnight before digesting a few more. Kind of like practicing self-control by eating only one handful of Doritos a day. The anticipation of the next handful is thereby heightened.
There are only a few areas of complaint:
At this time, the book is only available in a digital format. (It is published by Diversion Books.)
And Chris Cooper is listed as “editor.” In reality, Chris Cooper interviewed each of the 50 racers, and then wrote up each of the 50 race profiles, each of which flows well and is tightly drawn, so let’s call him the author. One sign of a good author is that the writing flows so easily that you’re never conscious of the author.
Being the Luddite than I am, I’m hoping that a publisher comes out with an ink-on-paper version, but in the meantime, you can’t go wrong listening in on these 50 stories of races both memorable and educational.