Friday, August 20, 2010
Posted by Michael Ring at 7:24 AM
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Runners for the Ages
Jim Israel, PPTC member
For this writer, the concept of a ‘marathon’ took hold during the Olympic Games in Rome, 1960. Before that event, a marathon competition seemed to this observer a sport for crazies – who on Earth could possibly run 26 miles, or, for that matter, who the hell would want to? No one sane, that’s for sure. Yeah, I knew the story of a Greek warrior running that distance to forewarn his Athenian countrymen of an impending attack by marauders, dropping dead after reaching his destination. I didn’t believe that tale for a minute; in fact, I’ve always wondered why didn’t Pheidippides saunter over to a rental counter at one of Ben Hur’s franchise-stores, Rent-a-Chariot, yoke the vehicle to a couple of speedy steeds, and hightail it back home much more quickly, with no threat to life and limb? The story doesn’t add up.
But enough of my musings.
In 1960, an Ethiopian unheralded and unknown, with no history whatsoever on the track-and-field international circuit, not only ran away from all his competition, winning easily, he completed the entire course in bare feet, in a race that occurred at night to avoid the intense summer heat of Rome.
We’ll start at the beginning: born a shepherd’s son in the hills outside of Addis Ababa, Abebe Bikila did not take up marathon training until the age of 24 [four years prior to the Rome Games]. No one in the track-and-field community had any inkling as to Mr. Bikila’s prowess prior to the marathon start. One European coach months earlier had read in a running magazine of a marathoner who ran a 2:24 race in Eithiopia, but he dismissed the report: no one can run that fast in the desert, he reasoned.
Mr. Bikila, in fact, was a last-minute replacement when the originally selected Ethiopian marathoner broke his ankle in a soccer match. He arrived in Rome without a suitable pair of running shoes. Adidas, the shoe sponsor for the Games, had only a few pairs left, none of which fit Mr. Bikila comfortably. No big deal: Abebe Bikila decided, on the spot, to run barefoot.
Gordon MacKenzie, an American in the race, recalled looking down the starting line at Mr. Bikila [The race began and ended at The Arch of Constantine, just outside the Coliseum.], and saying to himself, “He’s barefoot? That’s one guy I don’t have to worry about.”
The race, begun at dusk as nightfall beckoned, was compelling, indeed. Not so much for the nature of the competition: Mr. Bikila led virtually from the start, never relinquishing his lead, and finished in 2:15:16, a new Olympic record at the time. Dramatic, though, was the scene: a half-moon aglow, soldiers holding torches 10 yards apart from each other, block after block, strobe lights used in filming the race highlighted Mr. Bikila’s relentless pounding along the route and his indomitable will to win, running over the centuries-old streets of ancient Rome in darkness. Mr. MacKenzie, himself despairing of the potholes and cobblestones, remembered hearing the ‘pat-pat-pat-pat’ staccato sound of someone’s bare feet hitting the streets.
There’s an iconic image of Mr. Bikila approaching the finish line, a thousand photo flash bulbs going off, the Arch of Constantine lit up, and the huge Coliseum as a backdrop. It’s breathtaking.
Abebe Bikila’s heroics did not cease with Rome. Four years later, 40 days after suffering an attack of acute appendicitis and having his appendix removed, he won the Olympics marathon again, this time in Tokyo. And, he set a world record, 2:12:11. For that race, alas, he weakened, and ran in running shoes [Pumas, in fact].
Lest we forget, too, Abebe Bikila was the first African to win a gold medal in an Olympian track event. Every one of the African runners who has competed and won in subsequent years – including all those Kenyans – must have been inspired by the diminutive, barefoot marathoner from Ethiopia who, emerging from essentially a desolate butt end of the earth, defeated all those high-and-mighty European colonialists in the capital of what once was the most powerful empire in history.
Comments? They’re always welcome, pro or con…. email@example.com:
Posted by Michael Ring at 7:13 AM
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
THE INSIDE LOOP
TOM BYRNES and FRIENDS
PPTC had six finishers at the Pepper Martin 5 on
Lots of PPTC Group conversation on the PPTC Open Forum in July about our club’s efforts with printing and distributing Park User Safety Cards, using PPTC funds, for at least the past two years but few police and Park Personnel seem to deal with the enforcement of the rules. To many of us, this is similar to the issue with the law about using cell phones while driving. Paul Soskind put it not so mildly when he wrote that without teeth so to speak there will always be accidents in our park because most people do not possess a strong enough sense of justice to obey rules unless fear of consequences hangs like the Sword of Demosceles over their "it's about ME" heads! Biking in the park requires one to be hyper vigilant. Heads up out there!
Sad news. James J. BUCKLEY passed away on July 16, 2010. James was the proprietor of Buckley's Restaurant on
David R Chen psyched to compete in the 2011 Finger Lakes International Dragon Boat Festival. Sure hope that David and teammates delayed the
PPTC’s Patti Perlo along with other animal activists and local residents attended the vigil condemning the gassing death of over 250 Canadian Geese in
The NYRRC Queens Half Marathon sure seemed to be a ‘’hot’ race, pun intended. Congrats to PPTC runners who gave the 13.1 miles their best shot on such a hot day!. PPTC times in the Race Results section. Great to read Robert Elkin‘s piece on PPTC’s Will Abrahms after his performance. Abrams covered the 13.1 mile course in 1:28.17 for second place in the 50-54 age bracket and overall placed 46th in a field of 4996 entrants. As Elkin indicated, Will trains in
Bobby Fisher and Team Doherty, Clair and Danny, all biked the Harlem Valley River Ride the end of July. With the heat and the hills, an admirable feat!
On July 31, 2010, the Central Park Track Club hosted a 5k race in our very own
Great to learn that Michael Ring is back. “1,250 horizontal miles and 1.25 vertical,” he says. Now for ten points, the first question on the pop quiz is "where did he go?" Just in time to direct another 5k summer speed race too!
A sign of the times as summer passes. Rosemary and Piet Bezuidenhout’s daughter Nikolien pondering her choice of school uniforms and would seem to prefer colors of her own choosing. Now if you ask
Check out the glorious changes to the PPTC.ORG site if you haven’t been there lately. New pics of some of the usual suspects and the opportunity to order PPTC garb on- line ! Get thee to the website if you haven’t been there in a while.
Congrats to Geoff Vincent on his qualifying for the XTERRA Trail Running USA National Championship in
Posted by Michael Ring at 7:16 AM
Monday, August 2, 2010
Three bloggers blogged about our group run on Saturday July 31.
Posted by Michael Ring at 9:02 AM
Sunday, August 1, 2010
William Abrams at 53 years of age is still going strong and turned in a decent performance during the Queens Half Marathon held on Saturday, July 24 at a new site, Flushing Meadow Corona Park.
Abrams covered the 13.1 mile course in 1:28.17 for second place in his 50-54 age bracket, received a trophy, and overall placed 46th in a field of 4996 entrants, Some of the original entrants did not show up because of the humidity and heat, which slowed the times down. His best time for a half marathon was 1:07 in Guyana in 1987.
A member of the Prospect Park Track Club and a resident of Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant area, Abrams originally came from Guyana. He is believed to be the first Caribbean to cross the finish line in the huge field of the Queens event last week.
“I’m happy to represent the Caribbean,” he said after the race that was held along the streets of nearby College Point. “It’s very humid.”
Abrams and the rest of the entrants ran on what he considered a ‘nice’ but ‘tricky’ course.
“Tricky because of the hot humid weather,” said Abrams, who ran on this course for his first time. “And because it’s new, we didn’t know where we were going. We had to be cautious because we didn’t know what else we were going to catch up into.”
Abrams trains to enjoy life and to do such a thing one has to be in be healthy.
“I chose to run to be fit,” added Abrams, who trains in Prospect Park twice a day - 10 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the afternoon.
Abrams will be competing in the Bronx Half Marathon in mid-August, followed by the Staten Island Half, and then the New York City Marathon in November. His best New York City marathon clocking is 2:54.
“It’s very joyful to compete in a marathon,” he said. “My goal is to run a 2:45 for the New York City Marathon.”
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Michael Dixon of Fanwood, New Jersey, captured the Queens Half Marathon in 1:14.0.Most of the entrants came from the tri-state area.
The race was conducted by the New York Road Runners Club, headquartered in Manhattan. The College Point Road Runners Club also helped to make this 13.1 mile event a tremendous success.
“We had a great crowd and the runners competed in hot weather,” said a spokesman for the race committee. “Last year there were 65 turns in College Point.Every thing here in Flushing Meadow Park was just great.”
Posted by Michael Ring at 10:25 PM