Hotlanta -- congrats on a fine Waitarua run. I had the pleasaure of meeting HRE and Nobby last April at Boston, and if you're in Boston this year I'm sure it's a swell party.
I've been a little banged up recovering from a posterior tibial shin splint (my first injury in a while, go figure), and at my age I heal a bit slow. Some observations/comments:
On calf muscles and such: I think the comment about Kenyans and skinny calves also comes up in the Chi Running book. The Chi folks focus on posture and running with core and thigh muscles, with a relaxed calf, and they assert the Kenyans run this way. I've been trying their method a bit because of my calf/shin injury. Not to divert to thread into a Chi discussion, but I think their insights on posture and balance have some validity. But if one is born with exceptionally strong leg muscles (Snell, Seko), I can't imagine one is penalized for using them.
The largest runners: point for Jack Bachelor who was something like 6'6". Walker, Clayton, van Damme also come to mind.
I indulged myself and bought Ron Daws book a bit ago (Self Made Olympian, used of course). For those unfamiliar, Daws asserts that he had fairly minimal talent, but squeezed onto the '68 Olympic Marathon team through Lydiard training methods and taking advantage of every preparation and racing tactic possible to outrun better runners at the trials. It's a terrific book, mainly because most of us can identify better with a guy who had more persistence than talent, no money, and had to learn how to run smart. It includes a very good description of Lydiard systems (. . . and helps put in perspective what it was likein the 60's when all this coaching information wasn't readily available). On the topic of shoes, Daws on shoes is a hoot and a revelation: he actually describes razor-blading and disassambling shoes to make them lighter; even tells you what kinds of glue to buy. He also puts in a plug for a particular JC Penney model that he says was cheaper and better than Adidas (now THAT's old school).
One last thought tying together tall runners, skinny calves, and old school: one of the central running questions I'd like to have answered someday is about Lasse Viren. How was it that Viren someone managed to run sub-4:30 pace (e.g. a 10k finals) and look like he was just walking out to get the paper. He hardly seems to exert any effort. And I'd especially like to know because Viren and I are almost the same size (I think I'm an inch taller, being over 40 I'm sure I'm a good bit heavier, sadly).
Thx for all the posts. Nobby, I think you have a couple books in you.