Marathons breed winners
June 7, 2003
Ondoro Osoro’s first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 1998. He won with a time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 54 seconds. At the time, it was the third fastest marathon ever.
My first marathon was last Sunday at the sixth annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego. I won with a time of 4:36:21. Even with the time lapse from several bathroom breaks, it was the one of the worst marathons ever. Carrie Heilman, 32, of Carson City also won with a time of 6:49:35.
“It was a total personal accomplishment,” Heilman said. “I walked most of the time. At about mile 16, I was wondering what the hell I was doing out there. When I finished, I felt relief. I just wanted to prove I could do one.”
Purists might think Osoro was the actual winner. A former member of the Kenyan Olympic team, he was the first to cross the finish line on Sunday, 2 hours, 9 minutes and 38 seconds after starting in Balboa Park. Osoro’s story, though, is inspiring. Nearly three years ago he was shot in the back of the neck by a carjacker in Kenya. Hospitalized and unable to walk, the 35-year old never thought he’d run again. But he proved he can still run — and quite well.
For the duration of the marathon he averaged less than a 4 minute, 50 second mile. He basically ran 13 mph for two hours. If he had run through a school zone, he could’ve gotten a citation.
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Purists, though, probably never sat at the finish line and watched for hours as people’s dreams came true following a 26.2 mile journey. (I wouldn’t have either except my ride was several hours late.) The 16,977 others who finished after Osoro also inspired. Not only themselves, but those who saw them become winners on a warm sunny day in Southern California.
One women crossed the finish line, bent over and puked — a few times. “Best feeling of my life,” she said as she wiped chunks off her sunburned cheek. Another women was in tears and limping badly with only 20 yards left. That’s when her son, who was maybe 6, ran out of the crowd, grabbed his mom’s hand, dipped his head into her right hip and crossed the finish line with her. She finished in just over seven hours. Big winner — who’s raising another one.
My girlfriend, Isabelle, also became a winner on Sunday. However, she also became my punching bag that night because it was her idea to run one. She read a book a few years ago that listed the 100 things everybody should do before they die. Running a marathon was on it. The best part about that list, though, was that running a marathon twice wasn’t on it. But what happens when you die from running a marathon, as Pheidippides, the first person to ever run one, did?
In 1879, Robert Browning wrote a fictitious poem about Pheidippides dying after running a marathon. He was a true martyr. He died, or least he did in Browning’s poem, so thousands of uncertain and unfit people in the 20th and 21st centuries might understand what it’s like to live.
Fortunately, we’re not cats. There’s no reason to live more than once, let alone nine times. Which means there’s no reason to run a marathon more than once. I came, I saw, (I hurt), I conquered. Mission accomplished. Onto the next challenge, whatever it may be. And whatever it may be, it can’t be more difficult than running 26.2 miles. And whatever it may be, it won’t be as fulfilling as running 26.2 miles.
Jeremy Evans is a Nevada Appeal sports writer who would like to point out that Carson’s Scott Robertson (stud) finished in 38th place overall, finishing in 2:46:07, and 25-year-old Carson resident Nathan Logan finished in 4:17:51.