Saturday, April 18, 2009

2 Days to Boston Marathon: Duel in the Sun

Spring and sun finally arrived around here today, so I only found it fitting to remember the year the Boston Marathon became the "Duel in the Sun." That and after all of our reporting on the American runners Elva Dryer, Kara Goucher, Ryan Hall and Brian Sell gunning for 2008 champions Robert K. Cheruiyot and Dire Tune, we could see a repeat duel battling toward the finish line on Monday.

The year was 1982 and it was a race that came down to the wire and in the way it's always described starts to remind me of a horse race or the 100-meter dash at the Olympics where a photo finish determines the winner. But at Boston, it was two Americans running toward the finish line neck and neck only to finish two seconds apart. Those two men were Dick Beardsley, a farmer from Minnesota who trained through his home state's frigid winters, and Alberto Salazar, who hailed from nearby Wayland, Mass., and now calls himself Kara Goucher's coach. Beardsley and Salazar battled between first and second from the Newton Hills at mile 17 to the finish line with Salazar ultimately winning in 2:08:52 and Beardsley in 2:08:54. It was the first time two men had run under 2:09:00 in the same race and in sun-scorching conditions no less.

Talk about giving a show to the spectators lining the marathon course from Newton into Boston. Beardsley, no Salazar. Salazar, no Beardsley. Then both sprinting to the finish line trying to outlast the other. And yes, Salazar did run away with the victory, but not without paying the price. In battling Beardsley throughout the race, you could almost say he was so focused he forgot to refuel. Just after crossing the finish line, he collapsed and needed to visit the emergency room for IV attention. Word has it he received six liters of water intravenously because he didn't drink during the race--note to runners: Be sure to frequent the water and Gatorade stations.

You can read far more about this exciting race in John Brant's Duel in the Sun--definitely a recommended read in my book--which recounts the race-day excitement while telling the story of each runner and his preparations. Now here's to watching and waiting for what might unfold on Monday. Photo grabbed from Posted by Kate

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