A Fifth Green Blazer, an Exemption, and Number 52 Straight


Not that long ago, many folks wrote Mr. Woods off as a contender. Today, after much work and many great shots, he proved that he, nor any serious athlete, should ever be written off. Five wins in Augusta is quite remarkable, and something I do not fully understand, but fully appreciate. However, tomorrow is the running of the 123rd Boston Marathon, an event that I am more familiar with since I have raced it and many other marathons as a runner and as a hand cyclist.

For whatever reason, many outlets have written about NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson, running in tomorrow’s race, his first marathon. Five years ago he ran a 1 hour 28 minutes and 16 second half-marathon. From what I gathered in the article of my local newspaper; he sees this time as an indicator for a sub-three hour run. What the heck, since it was a half, just double the time, right?? Well, no, because as an athlete he should know that the second half is more difficult than the first half, for obvious reasons. What galls me most, however, is that Johnson has not qualified for the race, he was given an exemption by Gatorade, a long-time personal sponsor. He says that he desired to qualify the old-fashioned way, but his NASCAR racing prevented him from running a qualified time. Over 7,000 runners who ran qualifying races were turned away by the BAA because of safety concerns, especially at the start. However, the privileged boy of Gatorade lines up in Wave 2, wearing 4848 because an elite runner, Jonathan Mott, is wearing number 48. Poor Johnson. For many factors, I predict that Johnson will falter: his training, his inexperience at the distance, the course (first ten miles are downhill, giving a false sense of pace), and the Boston weather.

Ben Beach of Bethesda, Maryland will line up for his 52-straight run at Boston. Way back in 1968, as a high school senior, he ran his first Boston. His time in that race was 3:04, a time Johnson would like to run tomorrow. Beach’s best at Boston, Now in his late 60’s, he is happy to be on the course and is pushing to pass Johnny Kelly’s number of runs for Boston. Tomorrow a time around five hours would satisfy, double his best time.

Woods fought hard and came back, at least for this Masters. Beach, dystonia and all, continues to run each third Monday of April in Boston. Johnson is given an exemption. Let’s hope he makes the most of it.

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