Friday, April 10, 2009

10 Days to Boston Marathon: Rosie the Running Rogue

Many Boston Marathon runners opt to ride the school buses out to the Hopkinton start of the race. Some even have a bus or private charter to stay cozy on at the start. But any runner knows it's a 26.2-mile foot race back to the finish line, a long two-plus hour journey that can get so intense at times you wished you could hop back on that bus--or the T--and ride to mile 25 to run the final mile. Unless you want to pull a Rosie Ruiz, but be sure not to be the first across the finish line.

With Championchips, checkpoints and cameras on the course, it'd be near impossible these days to accomplish the Rosie Ruiz feat at the 84th Boston Marathon. On April 21, 1980, Ruiz was the first female to cross the finish line in roughly 2 hours and 31 minutes. But she didn't legally cross the finish line. It was later revealed that Ruiz jumped onto the course around Kenmore Square, only about one mile from the finish line, and ran from there. Now as most urban legends would go, there are surrounding rumors that she started the race and took a bus to the near-finish or that she dropped out and rode the subway to where she began running again. Yet some tales don't mention that she started the race at all--although I would hope that she didn't wait in the crowd near Fenway Park all day and at least put forth the effort to run more than a mile.

Eventually race officials figured out the scam and Ruiz was stripped of the title. And it turned out that Boston wasn't the first place she started the stop and run. Looking back on the incident, The New York Times indicated that she pulled out of the 1979 New York City Marathon, rode the subway to Columbus Circle and then crossed the finish line in 2:56:29. That time would be fast enough for her to qualify for Boston and end up on the list of those who could register. I thought I read that crossing the finish line was unintentional--that another runner on the subway said to come and watch the runners finish.

Regardless, some believe that Ruiz never intended on winning the race. She may have just wanted to finish and flash her finish time to her coworkers who thought she was an expert runner. Maybe it's just the opposite of an age-old saying and this time the early bird never gets the worm? Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

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