Friday, February 18, 2011


There is something about a sports comeback that is so appealing. Even people who don't follow sports will read the articles and books and watch the movies that recount some athlete's unexpected return from nowhere to achieve success. I suppose in part,that is one of the reasons I found the movie, On the Edge starring Bruce Dern to be so good. This was a fictional account of a runner attempting to make a comeback after being banned from racing because he had at one time violated amateur regulations.
There is no question in my mind that the greatest running comeback ever was Alberto Salazar's record setting win at the 1994 Comrades Marathon. After years of injury and illness Alberto returned and won a race traditionally dominated by elite ultra runners. Few in the running world would have disagreed with the statement that prior to this race Alberto's best running days were far behind him. For those who may not realize, Comrades is a 52.9 mile race, not 26.2. Why they call it a marathon I am not entirely sure but it is one of the premier sporting events held in the world each year.I'll always remember learning of his win the day after when I picked up a copy of the USA Today newspaper and saw three very short paragraphs describing it.I wasn't even aware that he had been training and planned to race at the Comrades. The other thing that made this win so incredible was that this is a race always won by the very best and experienced ultra runners in the world. As I later read stories that covered this race I learned that Salazar's entry was viewed with skepticism by the other top runners. Often in the past elite marathoners with pr's below 2:20 had entered and went on to "crash and burn". But not Alberto, he not only won but he set a record on that day. In describing his win he said, "what happened was a miracle." I would encourage everyone to do a search on the Web and read the stories relating to his win,they are so inspiring. It's really amazing how few people who follow running are even aware of Alberto's comeback. The account of his win would make a great book.Someone call Kenny Moore.
Tomorrow I will post Comebacks,pt.2.,comebacks are not just for the formerly great,they can be for you and me as well.

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