Area blogger RacesLikeAGirl has been going through her bookcase, and writes a typically insightful review of one of her books, the apparently out-of-print “A Cold Clear Day: The Athletic Biography of Buddy Edelen.”
Her quotation about the sham of amateurism reminded me of articles written about the troubles elite runners had when I was young. This sent me looking back to old Sports Illustrated issues.
The articles I most recall are by Kenny Moore. Moore wrote the biography, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon and he is prominent in the Oregon Public Broadcasting piece I just posted. He also co-wrote the screenplay for “Without Limits,” which contains many of the stories in his Bowerman bio. Both the book and the movie have sections focusing on Pre trying to battle the hypocrisy of the control wielded by the AAU on atheletes.
After finishing fourth in the 1972 Olympic marathon, he wrote one of my favorite running pieces of all time for Sports Illustrated entitled “The Long Blue Line.” It’s a combination of his experience during the race itself and the events of Munich 1972. It has a great final line.
Before Munich, Moore wrote about the Fukuoka Marathon, which was then essentially the world championship of marathons. His “Concentrate On The Chrysanthemums” is another wonderful piece and another that I recall from my youth.
Finally, although I don’t recall this one, I found a short piece that echoes my view about the joys of cross-country running, “‘one of the Pleasures of My Life.’”
Cross-country too often has been portrayed as the last bastion of the puritan work ethic, a sport where miles are counted not as units of joy (as are touchdowns or baskets) but of suffering, a sport whose motives are so pure as to be incommunicable. Certainly the runner, at least initially, must have the will to endure. But when he has attained basic fitness, the sense of ordeal ebbs. Through his fatigue he begins to appreciate this most primary of athletic relationships: a man crossing the earth, unaided, as it presents itself to him.
The USATF X-C champs is in February in Maryland, and I hoped to run it, but not this time. Maybe when it’s again in the northeast. Come summer, however, I’ll be promoting the Van Cortlandt Track Club’s Thursday night series.