Saturday, December 22

Running is life

I saw a couple of interesting marathon-related news stories in the papers this morning.
First, the New York Times headlines a story Study shows Marathons aren't likely to kill you.
So if you're at a cocktail party or family dinner this holiday season, it's something to talk about if you want or need to.
Here are some excerpts:
Worried about dropping dead if you run a marathon? Researchers in Canada say you can put your mind at ease. The risk of dying on a marathon course is twice as high if you drive it than if you run it, they find....
Dr. Redelmeier, who has run a marathon, said he began his study out of annoyance with the enormous attention given to each death in a marathon — often even greater, he added, than the attention paid to the winner. When someone died in the Toronto Marathon, he said, there were immediate calls to close it down.

“It has a chilling effect,” he said, “and becomes one more excuse not to exercise.”

So he and his colleagues decided to examine data from 26 American marathons over 30 years. They included results from 3,292,268 runners on 750 race days and 14 million hours of running. For comparison, they also examined national data on traffic fatalities, estimating how many would be expected to occur in the area on marathon day and comparing that with the number that did occur.

Fewer than 1 in 100,000 people died while running a marathon, Dr. Redelmeier and his colleagues reported. The chance that a middle-aged man — the typical marathon fatality — would die while running a marathon was about the same as the chance a middle-aged man would suddenly die anyway.


Maybe being a middle-aged man is the real problem.

The research also found that half of all marathon deaths the authors studied came in the last mile. Almost nobody dies in the first 13 miles.

The other story, from the San Diego Union Tribune, was For Dave Dial, running is what life's all about.

The story was OK, but a little bit long. Still, it starts off nicely.

A 2-hour, 24-minute marathoner at 19, Dave Dial does not race much anymore. Pride, he admits, gets in the way.
“Probably, I'm in denial,” said Dial, 47, who lives in Carmel Valley. “Why would I want to race a 10K, trying to run six-minute miles when before I was way under five minutes? I need to rearrange my goals.”

Dial, who once trained beside Bill Rodgers, writes poetry, freelance magazine articles and song lyrics. But at heart, he's a runner. His above comments aside, he's not the bitter has-been athlete, angry that his pace is not what it once was.

He runs now for the pure joy of feeling his 5-foot-11, 132-pound body in motion, his shoes crunching a dirt trail.

“It's a spiritual thing,” he said, sitting inside a coffee shop near his home. “It's like breathing to me. It's who I am. I think psychologically, certain people, that's just who we are.”

Dial has kept workout logs since he was 14. On Aug. 9 of this year, he says his total reached 140,000 miles, enough to circumnavigate the Earth at the equator 5½ times.

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