Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Miss the Time

Those of you who have been around for awhile understand that the running scene has changed alot in the last several decades. I got to thinking about this the other day and came up with a "I Miss the Time" list. Those of you who are 30 years old and younger may not realize what the running scene was like back then but perhaps the following will give you an idea. It was a unique and exciting time. In no particular order of importance,here goes.
I miss when the age-group qualifying times for the Boston Marathon were actually difficult to attain. You had to work hard to reach those times,if you did at all. If you don't know what they were, Google, "the Boston Marathon qualifying times as they existed in the 70's" and you'll see what I mean.
I miss the era when you could race at the major U.S. marathons and there would be less than 10,000 entrants.The key word here is 'major' U.S. marathons. I really am amazed how people can go to places like New York and Boston where there are 20,000 plus entrants with wall to wall people before and after the race,where if you are not careful,you'll spend an inordinate amount of time searching for family members and friends. Does anyone actually enjoy walking or slow jogging for 5,10 or 15 minutes before you actually get to the starting line?
I miss the days when American runners were in the top 10 of the 'world' rankings for distances ranging from the 5k through the marathon. On a related note, read the next entry.
I miss the time when U.S. runners regularly finished in the top 10 of the major road races and marathons around the world.These guys and girls became our running heroes,we read their interviews and studied how they lived and trained.
I miss the time when the running scene had charismatic athletes like Slaney,Salazar,Prefontaine,Benoit,Shorter, and Rodgers. There were more but these are a few who readily come to mind.
I miss the time when entry fees for races were anywhere from 7 to 15 dollars. Now, I understand that this is the 21st century and all, and the $25 and up fees are for the charitable cause that is sponsoring the race, but....
I miss the time when the running mags were really good. When they were geared towards doing mileage and getting as fast as you possibly could. Running Times was an especially great magazine back then. They focused on race results from around the country as well as having a section recognizing outstanding performances in various age groups. For example,you could get a short report on a race that Bill Rodgers ran somewhere in New Hampshire with top ten results in the different age groups.The few articles they carried were outstanding. Runner's World? In the 70's and first few years of the 80's they were the go to source for running info,they had the experts and the people in the know writing and working for them. Let me quickly add this,I am not criticizing the way these two mags are today because to stay in business you have to be in the 'black' to survive. American Runner and Marathoning were great magazines but they failed because they couldn't get the numbers to stay viable.
I miss affordable running shoes. Personally, I see very little difference in the quality of running shoes today as compared to the ones in the later 70's, especially when compared with the lighter,minimalist shoes(I'm not talking about the Vibram Fingers here). I'm still replacing my shoes as often as I used to but now I'm paying much more.
I miss the great running books,especially the bios. Bill Rodgers,Ron Daws,Herb Elliott,Derek Clayton,George Young,Tom Jordan's Pre bio,as well as training books by Lydiard,Bowerman and Cerutty were a few of the classics that were published. Also,the training books back then were geared towards performance not just finishing like the ones you see dominating the bookshelves these days.
In closing, it was a unique era. However, as nice as it was,and as nice as it would be to have it still around,ultimately,and thankfully,the beauty of running is in the actual participating,the going out and just running.

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