Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ekiden Relay, New York City 1989

On April 9th, 1989, i had the privilege of running in the Ekiden Relay in New York City. It was made up of 8 international and 50 state teams plus Washington, DC and New york City. The distance covered was the marathon, 42 kilometers in 5 legs, running the lower perimeter of Manhattan and finishing with a loop of Central Park. This was the second and last year that this race was held. Why i did not make the first years race i don't know, i was faster than 4 of the 5 runners that year, but so much for sour grapes, at least i was here this year.

Asics was footing most of the bill on this race and seemed to spare no expense. We had our whole trip payed for, airfare, hotels and meals. We flew down on Friday for the Sunday race, meeting at TF Green Airport in Warwick, it was a pretty talented group of us. The RI team consisted of Charlie Breagy, Mike Crawley, Mark Donahue, Dave Murphy and myself, plus alternate runner Mick O'Shea. Also on the plane with us were Irish team runners John Treacy and John Doherty. I felt more like i was on the Irish National Team than the RI team with Mick being a former Irish Olympian and Charlie being from over there too. Once we got down to New York and got settled, it was off to dinner and a stop at an irish pub for a few pints of Guinness. It's pretty cool to hang with a bunch of talented irish runners in an irish bar, i remember getting my balls busted for drinking my Guinness too fast. What do i know, i didn't grow up with the stuff.

Saturday, we ran Central Park. I did the whole loop i was to run the next day, but wasn't paying too much attention as i was running with Dave Murphy, who finished second at the NYC Marathon a few years before and was telling stories about that. We ran 10 miles and i was second guessing if that was a bit much for the day before our race, didn't matter, i was having a great time.

Sunday morning, we wandered over to Tavern On The Green where the relay was starting. My leg was going off last so there was time to kill. I was hanging around watching everyone warm up for the first leg of 5k and was just amazed at seeing Steve Scott doing strides. He has the longest, most graceful, effortless looking stride, just incredible. He was fastest on the first leg, blasting a 13.35 5k time. We started out with Charlie Breagy doing 14.43, running mid pack at 25th position, he handed off to Mark Donahue for the 10.8k leg which he ran 32.32 and moved us up to 14th place in the state team division. The international teams were running their own division, not that we had to worry about trying to compete with them. The third leg was a 9.3k leg that we had Dave Murphy doing, he ran 28.20 and moved us up into 11th place and was followed by Mike Crawley for 7.1k in 21.32 to put us into 10th position. It should be noted here that the second fastest state time for this leg was by Dave Dunham in 20.44 for Massachusetts. I took the handoff for the last leg, 10k around Central Park. I remember not feeling all that smooth out there, but being a relay, i was all alone for most of the run. As in any relay, you do not want to get caught from behind, but about 4 miles in, i hear people cheering for RI and then almost right away for Pennsylvania. I'm thinking, oh shit, Sydney Maree is running for them, nothing i can do except watch him blow on by. Sure enough, here he comes, there he goes, former world recold holder for 5k. Next from behind comes Paul Cummings, ex-olympian, on his way to a 29.24 followed by Pat Peterson, who ran 28.46. Now after all this, i think i must be running 6 min pace which i wasn't, my finishing time was 30.27, not a good race in my mind, but my teammates did not mind. We finished 14th in our division. The team from Ma. was in 4th place with DD, Dennis Simonaitis(who i knew from work at the Athletic Attic), Wally Collins, Paul Gorman and Tim Gannon. The Irish team finished first in their division with a come from behind win on the last leg, John Doherty ran 27.50 to pass Pat Porter( 28.20) for the win.

This was a fun race. It is too bad that it ended after only 2 years. The race was on tape delay replay by NBC on a Sunday afternoon. So it was a pretty big deal.

Click on the results pages to enlarge.

1 comment:

mike said...

I ran the Ekiden Relay for Kentucky both those years. I anchored the 10k. In 1989, the second year, I ran a 30:08 and change which was rounded to a 30:09, I think. I almost missed the exchange warming up that year. Someone called me Rosie Ruiz when I asked how to get to my starting line! A memorable experience.