Friday, October 31, 2008

Marathon Virgin No Longer - Pre Race

(The video above was supposed to go in this post but I got an error message every time I tried to put them together so separate they stayed. You have to watch it with the sound. It really is one of my favorite commentaries of all time. About 2 minutes and 15 seconds.)

The Marine Corps Marathon is officially and successfully over. We both had a decent run and although neither one of us is interested in another marathon anytime soon it was a good experience.

Mr KT was running for Team Running Strong. On Saturday we attended a luncheon event for their team where we got to hear Billy Mills speak.

This is part of the Wikipedia entry for Billy Mills.


William Mervin Mills ("Billy") was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, a Native American (Oglala Lakota (Sioux)), and was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was orphaned at the age of 12. Mills took up running while attending the Haskell Institute, which is now known as Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. Both a boxer and a runner in his youth, Mills gave up boxing to focus on running.

He attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship. He was named a NCAA All-America cross country runner three times and in 1960 he won the individual title in the Big Eight cross country championship. The University of Kansas track team won the 1959 and 1960 outdoor national championships while Mills was on the team. After graduating with a degree in physical education, Mills entered the United States Marine Corps. He was a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves when he competed in the 1964 Olympics.

Billy Mills qualified for the 1964 Summer Olympics on the U.S. Track and Field Team in the 10,000 m and the marathon.

The favorite in 1964 was Ron Clarke of Australia who held the world record. The runners expected to challenge him were defending champion Pyotr Bolotnikov of the Soviet Union, and Murray Halberg of New Zealand, who had won the 5000 m in 1960.

Mills was a virtual unknown. He had finished second in the U.S. Olympic trials. His time in the preliminaries was a full minute slower than Clarke's.

Indeed, Clarke set the tone of the race. His tactic of surging every other lap appeared to be working. Halfway through the race only four runners were still with Clarke: Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, Kokichi Tsuburaya of Japan, and Mills. Tsuburaya, the local favorite, lost contact first, then Wolde. With two laps to go only two runners were still with Clarke. On paper, it seemed to be Clarke's race. He had run a world record time of 28:15.6 while neither Gammoudi nor Mills had ever run under 29 minutes.

Mills and Clarke were running together with Gammoudi right behind as they entered the final lap. They were lapping other runners and, down the backstretch, Clarke was boxed in. He pushed Mills once, then again. Then Gammoudi pushed them both and surged into the lead as they rounded the final curve. Clarke recovered and began chasing Gammoudi while Mills appeared to be too far back to be in contention. Clarke failed to catch Gammoudi but Mills sprinted past them both. His winning time of 28:24.4 was almost 50 seconds faster than he had ever run before and set a new Olympic record for the event. No American had ever won the 10,000 m before Billy Mills did it.

An infrequently mentioned fact is both Clarke and Mills ran the marathon at the 1964 Olympics after the 10,000 m. Clarke finished in 9th place, Mills finished in 14th, in a respectable 2:22:55.4, approximately two-and-a-half minutes behind Clarke.

Anywho, (Blink, go ahead and tally one up for that) we listened to him speak, had lunch, took some pictures of the team and checked out the National Museum of the American Indian and then went back to the hotel to put our feet up. They also did a ritual before we all left that was pretty cool. A blessing of sorts on the runners.

The Running Strong Team

Mr KT getting blessed.

The place where the blessing and prayer took place.

Next post will be all race related I promise.


Iron Krista, "The Dog Mom" said...

Congrats!!! There's nothing like that first marathon finish...

Until your first IRONMAN finish! :-)

Can't wait to hear about it!