David Graham: My Thoughts On The Men’s Marathon For 2014
By David Graham
As 2014 winds down, here are some of my thoughts about the 42,195-meter race which as an American hopelessly oriented towards English units of measurement I still think of as being 26 miles, 385 yards long…
The last five years of men’s marathoning have seen an amazing, explosive growth of fast times. The word “revolutionary” comes to mind; and what makes the word “revolutionary” appropriate is not so much the quantity of time that has been taken off of the world record in the last five years, but rather the quantity of marathoners who are running really fast times. There is much greater parity of competition. In other words, the pyramid of elite running has gotten wider at the top.
(This is true of other distances as well, such as the 800, 5,000 and 10,000 meters. It is also true of NCAA-level competition – it’s more competitive than ever and what used to be “wow” performances [e.g., sub-24:00 8K cross country races] are now routinely achieved by many, not just a handful of runners.)
In 1967, Derek Clayton become the first man to break 2:10 in the marathon. Throughout the 1970s, 2:10s and 2:09s were rare enough to still be considered noteworthy, “wow” races. (I counted 25 such performances in the 1970s, only six of which were sub-2:10, with only four of those 2:09‘s on non-aided courses and only three free from suspicion of drug use. If interested, you can read the specifics in the Post-Script.)
Following both Alberto Salazar‘s 2:08:13 in NYC and Rob de Castella‘s 2:08:18 at Fukuoka in late 1981, 2:08 became the new “wow.” Times continued to drop, but by the end of the decade, only seven sub-2:08‘s had been recorded (one on an aided Boston course).
Even by the end of 1996, only nine sub-2:08s on non-aided courses had ever been run.
Then in 1997, after many years of “stagnation” in the marathon, the number of history’s sub-2:08‘s nearly doubled in one year, as suddenly eight marathoners ran 2:07s, headed by Khalid Khannouchi‘s 2:07:20 in his debut at Chicago, which was within 20 seconds of the nine-year-old world record. So in 1997, the number of marathoners running a “wow” marathon – a 2:07 attention grabber – was amply increased.
In 1998, Belayneh Dinsamo‘s 2:06:50 world record was finally broken after more than 10 years on the books. (Only two other marathon world records have lasted longer: Clayton’s 2:08:33.6 run in Antwerp in May 1969 lasted 12 years, 6 months, and 7 days, while Son Kitei‘s 2:26:42 WR in Tokyo in November 1935 lasted 11 years, 5 months, and 16 days.)
In 1999, the first 2:05 was run (Khannouchi’s 2:05:42 at Chicago) and a 2:05 continued to be rare enough to grab attention up to 2011. (There were no sub-2:06s in 2000, 2001, 2004 or 2005, three in both 2002 and 2003, and one in both 2006 and 2007. Things began to pick up in 2008, with seven 2:05s [at least one run by a proven drug cheat], two 2:04s and eight 2:05s in 2009 and three 2:04s and eight 2:05s in 2010.)
These low numbers show that there were few 2:05s until the year of unparalleled Kenyan dominance in 2011, when there were 13 2:05s or faster run on record-eligible courses, headed by Patrick Makau‘s WR 2:03:38; plus there were the four windy sub-2:05s at Boston, one forming part of Geoffrey Mutai‘s 2:03:02/2:05:06 double, which took over two and a half minutes off both the Boston and New York course records, respectively.
So from 1999 to 2011, 2:05 was still a “wow” marathon.
With the explosion of fast times at Dubai in January of 2012 (headed by an 18-year-old named Ayele Abshero who ran an eye-popping 2:04:23), followed by 2:04 performances in Rotterdam, London, Berlin and Chicago, in all 11 men ran under 2:05 in 2012, so it became necessary to run 2:04 to achieve “wow” status.
Then in 2013, with nine men under the 2:05 barrier, a new 2:03 WR in Berlin, and, for the first time, two men under 2:04 in the same race in Chicago, 2:03 became the new “wow.”
In 2014, the WR went down to 2:02:57, a 2:03:13 performance was relegated to second place, and TV announcers at Chicago would have to point out that the winning time of ‘only’ 2:04:11 would neither be a course record nor a personal best!
I wonder if folks in the past would have shared our same degree of awe about the pace of progress? In one year‘s time from 1908 to 1909, for example, the marathon WR went from 2:55 to 2:40 — a whopping 15-minute improvement.
Or perhaps we would have been more impressed in the 1950s, when Jim Peters in four races took the marathon WR from 2:25:39 down to 2:17:39?
In the late-’70s/early-’80s, Grete Waitz took the women’s WR down nine minutes, from 2:34 to 2:25.
But of course the competition in the past was nothing like it is today.
In the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis, the winner beat the runner up by six minutes, while the silver medalist was almost 13 minutes ahead of the bronze medalist.
Over the ensuing decades, the gap between medalists significantly narrowed as the competition improved. Even so, at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, when Jim Peters entered the stadium during the marathon, he wobbled around the track and repeatedly collapsed, covering 200 meters in 11 minutes, before completely fainting after he crossed what he thought was the finish line (he was actually a half lap short). All eyes in the stadium were on Peters as he went through this ordeal. Why? Because no other competitor entered the stadium during that time. He came into the stadium with a 17-minute lead!
Flash forward to 2014, and we see Dennis Kimetto, who could break the world record and yet still only win by 16 seconds.
When Geoffrey Mutai destroyed the course record in Boston in 2011 with history’s fastest time, he nevertheless won by only four seconds.
THAT is how far we’ve come…
(At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 43 seconds separated the winner and second-place finisher. Unlike Peters’ 17-minute lead over the second-place runner in 1954, this year 20 competitors finished within 17 minutes of Michael Shelley‘s winning time, eight of them within the next four minutes).
As another example of how far we have come, in December of 1967, Derek Clayton became the first man to break the 2:10 barrier for the marathon, when he ran 2:09:37 to win the Fukuoka Marathon. Forty-seven years later, where does that world record now rank? Still in the top 100 times ever? Top 200? Top 500? Nope. As of December 18, it was the 1,624th-fastest marathon on a certified, record-eligible course…
1. With that preamble about the amazing increase in competitiveness in the last five years, here are some big city marathon winners for 2014
Dubai – Tsegaye Mekonnen, 2:04:32
Tokyo – Dickson Chumba, 2:05:42, Course Record (CR)
Paris – Kenenisa Bekele, 2:05:04, CR
Vienna – Getu Feleke, 2:05:41, CR
London – Wilson Kipsang, 2:04:29, CR
Rotterdam – Eliud Kipchoge, 2:05:00
Boston – Meb Keflezighi, 2:08:37
European Championships (Zürich/Letzigrund) – Daniele Meucci, 2:11:08
Commonwealth Games (Glasgow) – Michael Shelley, 2:11:15
Asian Games (Incheon) – Ali Hasan Mahboob, 2:12:38
Berlin – Dennis Kimetto, 2:02:57 World Record
Chicago – Eliud Kipchoge, 2:04:11
Eindhoven – Tilahun Regassa, 2:06:21
Amsterdam – Bernard Kipyego 2:06:22
Frankfurt – Mark Kiptoo 2:06:49
New York – Wilson Kipsang 2:10:59
Fukuoka -Patrick Makau 2:08:22
2. Top 10 Marathon Times in 2014
1. Dennis Kimetto – 2:02:57 (Berlin)
2. Emmanuel Mutai – 2:03:13 (Berlin)
3. Eliud Kipchoge – 2:04:11 (Chicago)
4. Sammy Kitwara – 2:04:28 (Chicago)
5. Wilson Kipsang – 2:04:29 (London)
6. Tsegaye Mekonnen – 2:04:32 (Dubai)
6. Dickson Chumba – 2:04:32 (Chicago)
8. Stanley Biwott – 2:04:55 (London)
9. Eliud Kipchoge – 2:05:00 (Rotterdam)
10. Kenenisa Bekele – 2:05:03 (Paris)
3. Fastest Second-Place Finisher in History – Alas for Mr. Silver: Emmanuel Mutai‘s 2:03:13 was 10 seconds under Wilson Kipsang‘s previous WR of 2:03:23, but still behind Kimetto’s 2:02:57. The name for the fastest second-place marathoner in history, however, remains unchanged, Emmanuel Mutai’s 2014 Berlin race now replacing his 2:03:52 second-place finish in Chicago in 2013.
4. Fastest Third-Place Finish in History – Dickson Chumba‘s 2:04:32 in Chicago displaced Tadese Tola‘s 2:04:49 from Dubai in 2013.
5. Fastest Times for Top 25 Places – Here is how the list now reads after 2014:
1st Dennis Kimetto – 2:02:57, Berlin 2014
2nd Emmanuel Mutai – 2:03:13, Berlin 2014
3rd Dickson Chumba – 2:04:32, Chicago 2014
4th Endeshaw Negesse – 2:04:52, Dubai 2013
5th Bernard Koech – 2:04:53, Dubai 2013
6th Dadi Yami – 2:05:41, Dubai 2012
7th Shami Abdulahi – 2:05:42, Dubai 2012
8th Deressa Chimsa – 2:05:42, Dubai 2012
9th Seboka Dibaba – 2:06:17, Dubai 2012
10th Yemane Tsegay – 2:06:29, Dubai 2012
11th Eshetu Wendimu – 2:07:28, Dubai 2012
12th Moses Kigen – 2:07:45, Dubai 2012
13th Bazu Worku – 2:07:48, Dubai 2012
14th Julius Karinga – 2:08:01, Dubai 2012
15th Stephen Kibiwott – 2:08:15, Dubai 2012
16th Mike Mutai, 2:09:18, Dubai 2012
17th Chala Dechase, 2:09:22, Dubai 2012
18th Bernard Rotich, 2:10:18, Frankfurt 2011
19th Grigoriy Andreev, 2:10:15, Frankfurt 2011
20th Lusapho April, 2:11:09, Frankfurt 2011
21st Isaac Arusei, 2:11:21, Frankfurt 2011
22nd Sila Toek, 2:11:55, Frankfurt 2011
23rd Günther Weidlinger, 2:12:23, Frankfurt 2011
24th Berhanu Kassa, 2:12:29, Frankfurt 2011
25th Marius Gizynski, 2:12:34, Frankfurt 2011
The 2012 Dubai and 2011 Frankfurt marathons were impressively deep races…
Thanks to Brett Larner who last year responded to my marathon commentary to point out how deep the 1991 London Marathon was, with best marks for places 28-105. (Maurice Cowman broke 2:20 that day with a 2:19:56…and finished in 105th place!)
Note: the Association of Road Racing Statisticians lists Moses Mosop‘s 2:03:06 in Boston in 2011 as the fastest second-place marathon time ever. Strictly speaking, that’s true. But it was an aided time, as we all know how the wind was blowing that day…
6. PRs – Who set personal bests in 2014? We all like to run PRs, so I salute the following (in alphabetical order) who ran PRs under 2:07:
a) Kenenisa Bekele – his 2:05:03 debut in Paris broke Stanley Biwott’s course record by eight seconds
b) Girmay Birhanu – his 2:05:49 for third in Dubai axed 2:22 off of his time in Rome last year. (He also achieved a marathon “W” at the Beijing Marathon in October, winning in 2:10 in smoggy conditions.)
c) Stanley Biwott – his 2:04:55 for second in London was a 17-second improvement on his 2012 CR win in Paris
d) Stephen Chemlany – his 2:06:24 for second in Seoul was a PR by 1:20 (his progression: 2009, 2:16:14; 2010, 2:13:10; 2011, 2:07:55; 2013, 2:07:44; 2014, 2:06:24. In all, he has taken nearly 10 minutes off of his marathon debut time…) Chemlany also added a Commonwealth Games silver medal to his resume this year.
e) Dickson Chumba – Two PRs this year, first in his win in Tokyo (2:05:42, beating his 2012 Eindhoven PR by four seconds) then in Chicago (his 2:04:32, lowering his PR by another 50 seconds).
f) Shumi Dechasa – his 2:06:44 win in Hamburg took 27 seconds off his PR from Seoul last year
g) Limenih Getachew – his 2:06:49 for second inParis (behind Bekele) took 46 seconds off his Hamburg PR from 2013
h) Yacob Jarso – his 2:06:17 win in Seoul axed 4:56 off his marathon debut in Oita in 2012
i) Geoffrey Kamworor – a 2:06:12 debut in Berlin got him fourth
j) Mike Kigen – his 2:06:59 for second at Frankfurt beat his debut marathon in Dubai in 2013 by 1:25
k) Dennis Kimetto – took 48 seconds off his marathon PR with his world record in Berlin this year. His 2:02:57 works out to a mind-boggling 4:41.3 per mile.
That’s an average of 23:18 for each 8K segment. (Actual 8K splits were 23:27, 23:36, 23:08, 23:04, 23:14, + final 2k in 5:51). As we tend to view performances in relation to our own experiences, and since I attended a Division III school, I marvel at the fact that since its inception in 1973, no NCAA Division III Cross Country Champion has ever run as fast for one 8K at nationals as Kimetto averaged for five consecutive 8Ks in his marathon. (In fact, the fastest winning time ever run at NCAA Div. III Nationals was the 23:42 run by Dave Davis in 1999. In other words, Kimetto averaged 24 seconds faster for each of five 8K segments than the fastest-ever NCAA Div. III winner ran for one 8K race.)
That is a jaw-dropping amount of talent.
Here is Kimetto’s marathon progress, starting with a scary fast debut, moving to a scintillating course record, and arriving at a world record: 2:04:16 in Berlin 2012, 2:03:45 in Chicago 2013, 2:02:57 in Berlin in 2014. He has broken course records at three World Marathon Majors cities (Tokyo, Chicago, and Berlin) and has broken two WRs in Berlin (the 25K – 1:11:18 – in 2012 and the marathon this year). He is human – as his DNF at Boston this year showed – but his talent level reminds me of Sammy Wanjiru. What will we see in 2015 and beyond??
l) Bernard Kipyego – his 2:06:22 on a hot, humid day in Amsterdam took seven seconds off of his PR from Chicago in 2011
m) Sammy Kitwara – a PR by 48 seconds in Chicago (his previous best being 2:05:16 in Chicago in 2013, which bettered the 2:05:54 he ran there in 2012). His 2:04:28 is only two seconds slower than Haile Gebrselassie‘s WR from 2007 (which was rewarded with big headlines everywhere). By contrast, only seven years later, Kitwara received a minimal nod of the head in the press, with a few lines buried in articles praising Kipchoge’s race and noting Bekele’s woes. (“In taking second some 17 seconds behind, Kitwara continued his progression in this race, having finished third last year and fourth 12 months prior,” as the IAAF briefly reported; or “The two Kenyans who hung on to Kipchoge the longest, Sammy Kitwara and Dickson Chumba, finished in second and third in 2:04:28 and 2:04:32, respectively” as Runner’s World laconically noted.)
Geb’s 2:04:26 got major headlines while Kitwara’s 2:04:28 got none. In his biography of Franz Liszt, Alan Walker wrote, “History does not enshrine the names of those who follow the pioneers.” Indeed.
n) Abera Kuma – his 2:09:53 debut in Dubai was followed by a 2:05:56 in Berlin, which got him a very quiet third=place finish behind Kimetto’s WR and Mutai. (Showing how quickly the marathon has evolved, in 2006 – a mere eight years ago – the exact same time, on the exact same course, got Gebrselassie much press with a win, a course record, and the distinction of only being the fifth man in history to break 2:06. By comparison, Kumera’s 2:05:56 merely got him a quiet listing in the final results. “History does not enshrine the names…”)
o) Tsegaye Mekonnen – his debut in Dubai was a scintillating 2:04:32 for the win, the second-fastest time ever on that course. He was 18 years old at the time…
p) Emmanuel Mutai – Mr. Silver ran a 2:03:13 for second in Berlin, beating the old WR by 10 seconds and his PR (from Chicago in 2013) by 39 seconds. (His PR progression: 2:06:15 in 2008, 2:04:40 in 2011, 2:03:52 in 2013, 2:03:13 in 2014)
Mutai is also the new official 30K road world record holder (1:27:37).
Mutai’s current list of second-place marathon finishes: 2009 World Championships (Berlin), 2010 London, 2010 New York, 2011 New York, 2013 London, 2013 Chicago, & 2014 Berlin. (He got wins at Amsterdam in 2007 & London 2011)
Mutai has the odd distinction of being able to claim that when he toed the line at the start of the 2014 Berlin Marathon, the world record was 2:03:23, yet after crossing the finish line two hours, three minutes, and thirteen seconds later, his time was not a world record, not a national record, not even a course record, nor the world’s fastest time for 2014…
…and not even good enough to win his age division! Kimetto turned 30 on January 22nd of this year while Mutai didn’t turn 30 until two weeks after the Berlin race. However, the BMW Berlin Marathon website listed both runners as being in the 30-year-old age class…Well, phooey!
q) Tamirat Tola – a 2:06:17 debut marathon got him fourth in Dubai
7. Fastest Non-African for 2014 – The top 69 performances were occupied by men born in Ethiopia & Kenya. Kohei Matsumura was the fastest non-African marathoner in the world in 2014, running 2:08:09 for eighth place in Tokyo.
8. A few noteworthy Sub-2:10 Non-African PRs (all Japanese except for Uribe, who is from Mexico, and Lebid, who is from the Ukraine):
a) Kohei Matsumura – his 2:08:09 eighth place at Tokyo took 2:03 off his time at Otsu in 2013
b) Serhiy Lebid – his 2:08:32 for fourth at the JoongAng Seoul Marathon took 2:52 off his time in Lisbon in 2013
b) Koji Kobayashi – his 2:08:51 for ninth in Tokyo took 1:49 off his 2012 Chicago PR
c) José Antonio Uribe – ran 2:08:55 for third in Houston to take a huge 3:48 off his 2012 Berlin race
d) Hirokatsu Kurosaki – his 2:09:07 for 11th in Tokyo took 3:15 off his 2013 race at Nobeoka
e) Masanori Sakai – ran 2:09:10 for 12th in Tokyo to take a whopping 5:34 off his 2013 Oita race
f) Masato Imai – ran 2:09:30 for second in Oita to take 59 seconds off his 2013 Tokyo PR
g) Satoru Sasaki – ran 2:09:47 second-place finish in Otsu to take 1:41 off his 2013 Tokyo time
9. European Marathoners
Born in Somalia but British citizenship:
Mo Farah‘s 2:08:21 was his debut marathon.
Fastest European not named Mo Farah:
Serhiy Lebid – this Ukranian runner ran 2:08:32 for fourth place in Seoul.
Two European PRs of note:
a) Daniele Meucci – the Italian’s 2:11:08 win at the European Championships took 55 seconds off of his 2013 time at NYC
b) Michael Shelley – this Aussie’s 2:11:15 to win the Commonwealth Games took eight seconds off his 2011 Amsterdam race
10. A few sub-2:12 American PRs
a) Jeff Eggleston – 2:10:52 for second at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia took 1:11 off his 2012 Chicago PR; he also ran 2:11:57 for a seventh-place finish in Boston this year, which was also faster than his 2:12:03 PR from Chicago 2012.
b) Ryan Vail – 2:10:57 for 10th in London took 48 seconds off of his 2:11:45 at Fukuoka 2012
c) Bobby Curtis – 2:11:20 for ninth in Chicago took 2:04 off his previous PR
d) Fernando Cabada, Jr. – 2:11:36 for 10th in Berlin took 17 seconds off of his 2012 Houston race
*Meb Keflezighi’s 2:08:37 at Boston was the fastest he has covered the marathon distance, though his best time on a record-eligible course is still his 2:09:08 from the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
11. Tsegay Kebede’s “Off” Day – Kebede had what was probably the worst marathon of his sterling career when he “only” ran 2:10:27 for ninth place in Berlin. Any American whose name is not Keflezighi, Abdirahman, Ritzenhein, or Hall would be thrilled to have such an “off” day.
It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?
(Kebede’s only marathon slower than 2:10:27 was the 2:10:47 he ran at the very hot 2013 World Championships, where his effort got him fourth place. Hence, Berlin 2014 was probably his worst marathon performance. He has one 2:04, three 2:05s, five 2:06s, one 2:07, and two 2:08s to his name, along with an Olympic bronze medal, a World Champs bronze medal, and six marathon victories, including two at London, two at Fukuoka, one at Chicago, and one at Paris. And he is still only 27…)
12. A Master of Note – Kenneth Mungara beat all the younger runners (which included four 2:09 marathoners) and won the Singapore marathon outright at age 41. For anyone to run 2:16:42 on a 30 C/86 F degree day is remarkable.
13. Mongolia’s Pride – Ser-Od Bat-Ochir ran 2:08:50 to take third at the Fukuoka Marathon, a PR and NR by 10 seconds over his 2013 victory in Hofu. Except for Keflezighi’s 2:08:37 on an aided course, no other American came within two minutes of Bat-Ochir’s time in 2014. Coming from Mongolia, a name associated more with Genghis or Kublai Khan than with track and field athletes (the NR for 800 meters is 1:52.6, for 110 hurdles is 16.36, and the decathlon is 5945), Bat-Ochir’s 2:08:50 is easily the best of the Mongolia’s national records. This the sixth time he has bettered the marathon NR.
Post-Script: The 25 2:10s and 2:09s for the decade of the 1970s: Ron Hill ran 2:10:30 at Boston in 1970 & 2:09:29 in the Commonwealth Games at Edinburgh a few months later (which some thought should be the new WR as it was run on a certified, looped course – see, for example, the Association of Road Racing Statisticians list for WR Progressions), Akio Usami ran 2:10:38 at Fukuoka in 1970, Frank Shorter ran 2:10:30 at Fukuoka in 1972 and 2:10:45 at the ’76 Montreal Olympics, Ian Thompson ran 2:09:12 at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch in 1974 (also considered by some as a new WR; again, see ARRS list), Jerome Drayton ran 2:10:09 at Fukuoka in 1975 (still the Canadian record!), David Chettle ran 2:10:20 at Fukuoka in 1975, Bill Rodgers ran 2:09:55, 2:10:13, & 2:09:27 at Boston in ’75, ’78, and ’79, 2:10:55 at Fukuoka in 1977, and 2:10:10 at New York in 1976, Shigeru So ran 2:09:06 at Beppu in 1978 (new WR per ARRS) and 2:10:37 at Fukuoka in 1979, Takeshi So ran 2:10:40 at Fukuoka in 1979, Jeff Wells ran 2:10:15 at Boston in 1978 and 2:10:20 at the Nike OTC marathon in Eugene in 1979, Tony Sandoval ran 2:10:20 at the same ’79 Nike OTC marathon & John Lodwick ran 2:10:54 for 3rd, Toshihiko Seko ran 2:10:21 at Fukuoka in 1978, 2:10:12 at Boston in 1979, & 2:10:35 at Fukuoka in 1979, and Bernard Ford ran 2:10:51 at Fukuoka in 1979.
Also included in the 25 performances is Waldemar Cierpinski’s 2:09:55 at Montreal in 1976, though given the reports of systematic, state-sponsored performance-enhancing drug use in the East German system at the time, there is still the lingering issue of whether or not this performance was clean.
NOT counted is Bill Rodgers’ 2:08:23 that he ran in the 1976 Sedo Island Marathon in Japan, only a few weeks after smashing the NYC Marathon course record; Rodgers’ time in Japan was 10 seconds faster than Derek Clayton’s world record, but remeasurement of the course showed it to be about 200 meters short of the full marathon distance…Rodgers must have had a lot of empathy for Alberto Salazar and his 1981 race in New York, in which Salazar thought he had bettered Clayton’s WR by 20 seconds, only to later find out that the NYC course was 148 meters short…had the Sedo Island course been properly measured beforehand, Rodgers would possibly have become only the second marathoner in history to run under 2:09…of course, Clayton’s WR in Antwerp, Belgium in May of 1969 was set on a course that was never remeasured, and many speculated about whether or not the course was accurate.
Rodgers’ race at Sedo Island was possibly the best marathon he ever ran…yet who today ever mentions it?
Archives – Last Year’s Column: Ten Thoughts About The Marathon For 2013 2013 was quite an amazing year in the men’s marathon. Guest columnist David Graham takes a look back and gives you the top 10 rankings for 2013 (which have WR holder Wilson Kipsang only at #4), marvels at the fact that guys have now run 2:03 and lost and run 2:04 and finished fifth, wonders whatever happened to Evans Rutto and Duncan Kibet and looks ahead to 2014 and a possible masters WR for the great Haile G.
Guest columnist David Graham is a general surgeon who works at a mission hospital in Shell, Ecuador. A fan of LetsRun.com since 2002, Graham’s pieces have appeared many times on LetsRun. He can be rearched at email@example.com:
We asked him for a bio and he wrote: “I was never a highly talented runner (good enough to make All Conference in high school in Johnson City, Tennessee and make varsity at a division III school – Wheaton College, west of Chicago, where I graduated in 1986 – but I was never an elite runner). However, I’ve always been a fan of the sport. One of my first real inspirations was a guy named John Stewart, a 4:02 miler for Tulane who made it to the finals of the 1972 Olympic Trials in the 1,500. He gave me a pair of his old spikes back in the early 70s (back when the tracks we ran on were cinder) and from there I got started. By vocation, I’m a general surgeon By avocation, I’m a running enthusiast. I’ve been a fan of Letsrun.com since someone first told me about it in 2002.”
If you are interested in writing a guest column, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.