Who is Runner 129"
Newly posted to the Internet is a newsreel from the 1959 Boston Marathon, the first year I ran that classic race--or any marathon for that matter. (Yes, that's me wearing a University of Chicago Track Club singlet and number 129.) I would run Boston seventeen more times, most recently at the 100th running in 1996. My first marathon was far from successful. I had raced and defeated many of those running in 1959 at shorter distances. That included Canada's Gordon Dickson (17) and the Boston Athletic Association's John Kelley (2), sharing the lead with me as we run through Wellesley, halfway through the race. But 26 miles was more their distance, than mine. I still not had figured out the proper blend of speed and endurance training necessary for success in the marathon. I stayed with the leaders into the Newton Hills, but was sitting on the curb by Cleveland Circle, 22 miles. Kelley went on to finish second in 2:23:43; Dickson placed 2:24:04, fast times for that era
Winner that day with a time of 2:22:42 was Finland's Eino Oksanen, who also won in 1961 and 1962. To see the newsreel of the Kelley-Oksanen dual from 1959, go to Running Past, a website designed by Andy Yelenak. You will need a computer capable of streaming video. Once you have the Running Past home page on your computer, surf down to the 1959 Boston Marathon Highlights Newsreel. After viewing the 1959 race, check some of the other newsreels available, including Emil Zatopek's 5000 meter victory in the 1952 Olympic Games and Roger Bannister's First Four-Minute Mile.
It took me a few years to figure out the type of training necessary to stay with the leaders at Boston for longer than I did in my first Boston Marathon. I returned in 1964 and led going up the second of the four hills, faded, but managed to hang onto fifth place in a Personal Record of 2:21:55. Recently, one of the runners who participates in the forums that are part of my Virtual Training posted a question, asking: What did you learn from your first marathon? My response was simple: "Don't try to win the race!"