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New England Walkers Newsletter
June 2005


Special long-distance edition

Our biggest, and longest, official event of the year is two months away -- the 2005 National 15-Kilometer Racewalking Championship, to be held Sunday, August 7, on Greenough Boulevard in Watertown, MA. Planning is underway, and many details will follow.

Between now and then, we have several shorter races on our calendar: the New England Outdoor 3K at MIT on June 19; the Bay State Games 3K on July 16; the New England Masters 5K at Springfield College on July 23; plus our monthly Danehy Park 5Ks on June 5 and July 10 and a Sports for International Peace 5K in Watertown on June 11. (Details for all are in the race calendar below.)

But some club members are already basking in the memories of their really long effort of 2005 -- 26.2 miles long, to be precise. For most of them, the event unfurled from Hopkinton to Boston on April 18; for one, the marathoning took on a singular global quality. Here are their stories.

Racewalking a marathon on every continent
...and pondering what to do next

By Marcia Gutsche Rutledge

At long last, I'm pleased to write that I have completed my goal of racewalking a marathon on each of the 7 continents.  After 8 years, my goal was accomplished when I successfully finished the Santiago, Chile marathon on April 10th in 4:24.58.  The other marathons I have completed since 1997 included Dublin, Ireland, Auckland, New Zealand, San Diego, CA, Cape Town, South Africa, Beijing, China, and Antarctica.  To date, 30 women and about 110 men from around the world are members of the 7 Continents Marathon Club to the best of my knowledge, I'm the first racewalker.

I am frequently asked which marathon was my favorite or most memorable. Each marathon was memorable or special in some way, but Antarctica and Beijing are probably top on my list.  Antarctica was special because it was Antarctica after all!  The experience of getting there and back on a boat across the Drake Passage (better described as the "Drake Shake") and the scenery are unforgettable memories.  I remember pinching myself during the race just thinking about how far away from home I was and how unbelievable it was to have seals and penguins as race spectators on an otherwise desolate course.  I also remember just ½ mile into the race when I seriously questioned my mental competency when I signed up for the race and wondered how in the world I would ever finish 26.2 miles on the very challenging course (which we had to complete twice) with significant snow drifts, 30-40 mph wind gusts, a rocky beach and a ¾ mile glacier!  No amount of training in Boston had prepared me for this experience!!  About 25% of the marathon participants dropped out at the half, but I was determined to finish and managed to finish in 5:39 for 32nd place out of 62 finishers - not too bad for a racewalker on a boat filled with 90 avid runners!

My other most memorable marathon was Beijing,.  It was memorable because I achieved a huge 30 minute PR (4:16.41) which caught me totally by surprise.  I kept looking at my splits and thinking "you're going too fast - you're not going to have anything left at the end." This PR was achieved the day after the tour leader from Marathon Tours warned me about the strict 5 hour cut-off and expressed his concerns about my ability to finish the race in less 5 hours.  I vividly remember the look of amazement on his face when he saw me cross the finish line well ahead of about 1/3 of the other runners on the tour.  I also remember the special feeling I got when the otherwise stoic Chinese spectators, who were lined up several deep along the marathon route, cheered for me and pointed their fingers at me as one of only a few non-Chinese women in the race and the only racewalker. Needless to say, I was definitely an anomaly amongst the marathon participants and the crowd's support kept me going strong.

So, "what's next?" is the other question I'm being asked these days.  Well, believe it or not, I haven't completed the Boston Marathon.  It's closer to home than I'm accustomed to, but it is the granddaddy of marathons so I figure I'll have to do it.  Beyond that I'm less clear on my next "Thing to do before I die" (TTDBID) goal - maybe I'll do a marathon in each of the 50 states or hike the 48 4,000+ peaks in NH or hike the highest peaks on each continent (not likely!) or just keep racewalking.  Stay tuned!  With any luck, I'll have my next TTDBID goal figured out by the time Charlie approaches us about our 2006 goals for the NEW newsletter!

An effort entwined with family

By Maureen Danahy

Well, once again with the help of my son Ralph and the support of my husband Rick, I was able to train for the Boston Marathon.  This year my family without a doubt went above and beyond the call of duty.  Last summer I decided to go back to school and get my masters in education (children with special needs).  This of course meant that from 7:30-2:30 Monday-Friday I would be at my day job and 4-9 Monday-Thursday I would be attending classes.  Ralph agreed to make dinner two nights a week, read to his sister two nights a week, do the dinner dishes, make sure the laundry made it into the washing machine, and get up early every Saturday and do a long walk work out with me.  Ralph is 16, so getting up early every Saturday was indeed a gift of love.  Rick made dinner four nights a week, helped with the housework, took care of our daughter while I was at school and most of all gave me the freedom to go out and train with while he played with our 6-year-old daughter, Tatyana.

The best part of training for the Marathon was the long workouts with Ralph. Sometimes they started out slow, especially during the cold winter months; however, the cold gave us great incentive to move quickly so we could stay warm. During some of our adventures we were alone in knee-deep snow.  We made tracks in the snow and enjoyed the quietness of the day. Those walks were great because they gave me the opportunity to talk with my son. They also taught me how to listen. It's amazing what we can learn from children.

Ralph met me at the 20-mile mark of the marathon and finished the last 6.2 miles with me.  I have to admit I was a bit sore when I saw him at the 20 mile mark.  The blisters on my feet had been bleeding for the past two miles, and I was tired.  He had this great grin on his face and it carried me the rest of the way.

It isn't easy being a parent today as many of you know.  Every day we try to do what's best for our children.  There's no manual; we learn along the way.

I guess you could say that parenthood is like a marathon.  Some parts are flat and even and some parts are hilly and tough, but as long as you can remember that for every flat there's a hill around the corner and for every hill there are the even flats to enjoy, you can make it to the finish line. This year I was fortunate to complete my 13th marathon.  As Ralph and I came upon the finish line he turned and smiled at me and said, "I'm proud of you, mom." The flat surface felt good underneath my feet.

After decades, a dream fulfilled

By Chris Luck

Back in high school in the 1970', I was a "long-distance" runner,  and I was often asked if I was going to enter the marathon in that faraway land known as Boston. Thus the seed was planted where it lay dormant until my recent association with the New England Walkers.

It wasn't until I saw the seemingly endless line of school buses on the Boston Common that I appreciated the enormity of this event, and it wasn't until I was riding on one of those buses to Hopkinton that I was reminded just how darn far 26 miles and a few extra yards really is.

  I participated in the "Tent City" activities prior to the race start, enjoying tales of people's experiences with this and other marathons. The veteran participants of the race arrived with air mattresses, radios and plenty of food. They were indeed rested and nourished for the day ahead. Even the longish lines to the port-a-potties were an opportunity to give and receive encouragement for the miles to come.

I was fortunate to get my race bib through the NEW, and was seeded in coral # 18. It was a long 23-minute crawl to the starting line. Many of my friends encouraged me to take in the entire event … the crowds, the scenery, the energy of the competitors etc. When I crossed the starting line all those thoughts simply vanished. I was pure adrenaline, hyper-focused on getting to the finish line before 6 p.m. and getting the coveted finisher's medal. The first 13 miles went relatively easily, made easier with a "Hello" from Joe Light as he effortlessly zipped past me, a handshake from Bob Keating as he zoomed past me and a hug from Heidi Duskey as I finally caught up to her around Natick. In Natick, a friend of mine jumped out of the crowd and shouted that the race leaders "were only about 10 minutes ahead" of me. He snapped a photo and I believe that was the last time I smiled until possibly the next day.

The final 13 miles were all business and blisters. I will always be grateful to those anonymous individuals who shouted "Go race walker," "Power walker" and "Good form."These people lifted me when I really needed it most. The ladies of Wellesley College and the coeds of Boston College often get a lot of publicity,  but my true heroes are the folks who cheer on us racers who are not world champs. The adults and children handing out popsicles 5 hours into the race are the ones I will always remember and appreciate. The hills of Newton turned my hamstring muscles into balls of mush that cramped badly, so by the time I hit Heartbreak, I was in a zone that allowed no more pain! Post-race, I discovered that one of my blisters would have qualified me as a generous donor at the Blood Bank. Yikes!

5 hours and 23 minutes after I crossed the starting line, I received the Boston Marathon medal I had dreamed of since my youth. THANK YOU, Justin, for helping make this a reality, and many, many thanks to those of you who wrote to wish me success before the race and those who offered congratulations after the big day. This is THE marathon, and congratulations to all who attempted this very difficult course.

A long, long trail of pick-me-ups

By Heidi Duskey

I had no intention of walking the Boston Marathon this year, but my friend Becky from Houston had other ideas.

In 2004 we both had numbers. Mine came from NEW and hers from John Hancock, one of her clients. My marathon ended at Mile 7 when I left the course with a highly elevated heart rate and was taken to the hospital for dehydration. After several bags of IV fluid and some tears, I headed back to Boston to return my chip and find Becky for our scheduled post-race dinner. I was aimlessly wandering down Boylston Street when she turned the corner to the finish line. It was incredible to see her finish and to be able to cheer her in.

Becky was determined to return the favor and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. This year she would enjoy the marathon as a spectator and wait for me at the finish line. Since I was already preparing for Sunmart (a 50k trail event) in December, 2004 and would have a base of distance training, I reconsidered and wrote Justin requesting a number. Happily he said yes! My training went well, despite the huge amount of snow we received this winter and 4 falls on the ice - after which I reluctantly moved indoors to the treadmill and more mileage than I care to recount. In March Becky and I received some exciting news: another friend of ours, Judy, also received a NEW bib number. She would be flying in from Rochester, Minnesota to join us for the weekend.

So now the stage was set. To say that I was excited about this year's marathon is an understatement!

The morning of the marathon, Judy and I got up, said good-bye to Becky (who was going to spend the day with my husband and son), and headed over to the buses. Judy has racewalked and/or run over 15 marathons and she was astounded by the number of people and the organization. We boarded a bus and struck up a conversation with the people sitting behind us. The ride went quickly. When we reached Hopkinton, we wished everyone a great race and walked over to the Pratts, who were generously hosting the New England Walkers for the morning.

I felt relaxed and the morning flew by. I talked with everyone, stretched, and had only one cup of decaf coffee (no dehydration for me this year!), and a bagel with cream cheese. At 11:30 a.m., it was time to walk over to the corrals.  I found mine and settled in for the long wait until we would actually reach the start line. By this time I was excited and nervous.

The significant thing about being in the back corrals is that you have no sense of the start. We didn't even begin to move until 12:15 p.m., and then it was very slowly. We would walk 50 feet and stop, walk some more and stop. Finally, we turned the corner and I could see the start line. I remember taking a deep breath and reminding myself to relax and have a good time.

My most vivid memories of the first 4 miles are the crowds - which were amazing! - and the number of people surrounding me on the road. I could hear Bill Harriman's voice in my mind telling me to slow down and it helped to "high 5" the kids standing along the edge of the road. I was really enjoying myself. Runners and spectators would periodically remark on my racewalking; some knew what I was doing and others had no clue, but it was fun to be acknowledged nonetheless.

At Mile 4 Bob Keating passed me and, a mile or so later, Joe Light caught me as well. It was great to see people  I knew, even if the moment was fleeting. Mile 7 was sweet! Unlike last year, I felt so good that I wanted to kiss everyone standing on the side of the road. And just beyond Mile 8, I heard a voice behind me say, "Racewalkers are the coolest people." I turned around that there was Chris Luck. We walked together for a minute and then he took off.

I remember wishing that I could stay with Chris, but he was walking too quickly. I had trained to walk at a 12 minute per mile pace and knew there were many more miles yet to go. So instead, I watched him from behind and critiqued his form in my head!

At the Mile 10 water stop, Mark Zullo and Jay Diener were a welcome sight and shortly beyond them were my bosses and their son. I felt great as I headed into Natick Center, and then continued through Natick into Wellesley.

Everyone knows that the women of Wellesley College cheer you up the hill into Wellesley Center. I know there's a hill because I've trained on it. And yet I have no recollection of walking up the hill during the marathon. I only remember the women. They were screaming and holding signs that said "Kiss me" and "Hug me." I didn't, but it was a fabulous experience anyway. At this point I was walking with a group of 4 joggers and we laughed about it all the way through Wellesley Center.

The stretch of road from Wellesley Center to the turn onto Commonwealth Avenue in Newton was the loneliest for me. I reached the ½ way mark at 2:39 chip time, pretty close to pace. But when you add the 22 minutes it took for me to reach the start line, it was quite late in the race and most of the spectators had already gone home to watch the finishers on TV.

This was also the stretch where I began to feel the heat. In fact, I was hot. So at Mile 15 I stopped for a few minutes, took off my T-shirt (sports bra, be damned!), and generally re-collected myself. A ½ mile further ahead were Bill and Joanne Harriman. It was great to see them! After a quick hello and a gift of Vaseline to prevent chafing, I was off again. Things remained uneventful until somewhere around Mile 19.

I had made the turn onto Commonwealth Avenue and had conquered 2 of the hills. I did not train on the marathon course this year, choosing instead to walk the hills surrounding my home in Medford. Some of my distance routes are rolling and others have moderate to steep hills ranging from ½ mile to over 1 mile. The training paid off; the hills were not difficult and my legs felt pretty good. I was, however, becoming bored.

And then I saw Marcia Rutledge, a very pleasant surprise. She graciously walked along with me for a few hundred meters and then we saw Michele Bouchard and Pat Yingling - and they had a bottle of Coke for me!! Mari Ryan had offered to bring me the Coke, but had developed food poisoning the night before. Ever dependable, Mari asked Michele and Pat to bring it instead. It was great to see them and the Coke was fabulous. They all walked with me another 100 meters as I chugged down as much of the Coke as I could. What a tremendous pick-me-up!

Now it was on to the remaining Newton Hills. As I approached Mile 20, I felt a pain under my left shoulder blade. I slowed down and stretched my upper back, but it didn't help. The pain increased and I could feel it with every step. Judy caught up with me at the base of Heartbreak Hill and offered to walk in with me. But by this time the pain in my shoulder prevented me from swinging my arm even a little and I couldn't maintain racewalking form. I knew I was only going to slow her down and my friend

Gina was waiting for me at the top of Heartbreak Hill, so I told her to go on without me. I watched her leave and proceeded up the hill alone. Gina was at her appointed spot. We had agreed that she would walk with me for as long as I wanted and, frankly, I was in considerable pain and wanted company. At this point I was just walking. Gina kept me company as I slowly made my way into Cleveland Circle, frustrated at my inability to resume any semblance of racewalking and losing whatever pace I had been able to maintain. At Mile 22, medics gave us 2 ice bags and we stuffed them under my sports bra on top of my shoulder. Once I recovered from the shock of the ice against my skin, the cold felt wonderful.

I remember seeing the Citgo Sign in Kenmore Square for the first time. I became really excited. The ice had considerably eased the pain in my shoulder and, if I held my left arm tight to my body, I could racewalk slowly. I was surprised that the crowds on Beacon Street were still so large and I was shocked at the number of "walking wounded," some of whom looked delirious. It felt as though I was crawling and yet I was passing people everywhere.

As we approached Kenmore Square, I began to walk faster. By the time we turned into the square, I was racewalking fast enough for Gina to jog (she's a runner). As we entered Back Bay, I tossed the ice bags and started to pick up speed. Adrenaline kicked in. The crowds became bigger and louder.  I was psyched about finishing. I picked up my speed again and turned on to Hereford Street.

And I was totally unprepared for the last turn onto Boylston.  It was shortly after 6 p.m. and the official clock had been turned off. I couldn't have cared less. All I saw was the banner at the finish line and my grin must have been huge. I have no idea what speed I was walking and I'm sure it wasn't really that fast, but it felt as if I was flying. Gina was running to keep up with me at this point and had moved over to the side of the road so she could find a break in the barricade before the finish line. I could hear her cheering for me, yelling my name. And whether it was because they weren't many runners coming in then, or because I was racewalking, or both, people in the crowd started yelling my name as well. Then I heard Judy cheering from the sidewalk. She had already finished and was waiting for me. The last few blocks were amazing and it's still overwhelming when I relive it in my mind.

And then the marathon was over. I crossed the finish line and my family and Becky were waiting for me. Judy and Gina found us shortly afterward and I went to return my chip and receive my medal. This was a poignant moment for me. Last year when I returned my chip, a volunteer began to place the medal around my neck; after all, they didn't know I didn't finish. I sadly told her that I hadn't earned it. This year, however, it was different and I'm very happy about that.

I have one last thing to share: During the latter stages of the marathon (the stage that my friend Dot calls the "bite me" stage), I told Marcia and Gina that I would NEVER again do another marathon. It's no surprise that neither Marcia nor Gina believed me! And in fact, either Chicago or Portland, ME will likely be on my calendar for next fall. I may even give Boston another try if Justin will give me a number. After all, I have yet to finish with an official time and that's a goal I'd like to accomplish.

Grand Prix results

Participants are ranked by their times in their four best designated events, as measured against age-graded tables. The next even is the N.E. Outdoor 3K on June 19.

Following are the standings so far, with thanks to scorekeeper Bill Harriman.

Women
Four races
Joanne Harriman 303.77
Three races
Dot Zullo 206.45
Mari Ryan 195.46
Two races
Marcia G. Rutledge 174.18
Kate Dickinson 156.84
Pat Godfrey 144.74
Dotty Fine 143.2
Heidi Duskey 141.01
Michelle Bouchard 130.44
Men
Four races
Bill Harriman 296.97
Three races
Bill McCann 229.52
Charlie Wilkinson 211.74
Charlie Mansbach 210.04
Two races
Bob Keating 177.53
Brian Savilonis 160.19
Bob Ullman 158.84
Adam Staier 150.94
Bob Beaudet 147.65
Chris Luck 119.86

2005 race calendar

As always, our listing of racewalking events is not engraved in stone. Some races are added during the season, others are changed or canceled. It's always best to verify the time, date and location with the race director before setting out.

June

5 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

11- Sports for International Peace 5K, 10 a.m., Greenough Boulevard and North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA. El Hassan Kouchaoui, 617-923-0620 or el.ko@caramail.com

19 - 3K, 12:15 p.m., USATF-NE Outdoor Championships. MIT track, Cambridge, MA. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600 or usatfne.org.

24-25 Massachusetts Senior Games. 1500M June 24, 5K June 25, for athletes age 50 and above. Springfield College. 413-748-3812.

July

4 - Dedham 5-miler, Dedham, MA. An unjudged walking division as part of the town's holiday road race.

10 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 9 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

16 3K, Bay State Games, MIT track, Cambridge, MA. www.baystategames.org or 781-932-6555.

23 New England Masters 5K championship, 11:15 a.m., Springfield College, MA. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600 or usatfne.org..

August

7 - National 15K championships, Greenough Boulevard, Watertown, MA. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600 or usatfne.org.

14 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 9 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

20 - Thomas Metrano Memorial 5K, 10 a.m., Greenough Boulevard and North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA. El Hassan Kouchaoui, 617-923-0620 or el.ko@caramail.com

September

11 - 5K, Danehy Park, Cambridge, MA, 10 a.m. Contact Bill Harriman at 978-640-9676 (before 9:30 p.m.)

24 - Connecticut Racewalkers 10K.

September or October- Eastern Regional One-Hour Championship, Bentley College, Waltham, MA. New England track and field office, 617-566-7600 or usatfne.org.

October

8 - Sports Against DomesticViolence 5K, 10 a.m., Greenough Boulevard and North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA. El Hassan Kouchaoui, 617-923-0620 or el.ko@caramail.com

Phone any time

For up-to-the-minute information on race schedules, clinics and other events, call the New England Walkers hotline at:

781-433-7142

The New England Walkers

Send material to:
Charlie Mansbach
25 Larkspur Road
Newton, MA 02468
E-mail address: mansba@globe.com
For membership information, contact Justin Kuo at 617-731-9889

New England Walkers
NEWalkers@jkuo.com
39 Oakland Road
Brookline, MA 02245-6700
United States


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This page was last updated Tuesday, May 24, 2005.
Corrections? Contact Justin Kuo (617-731-9889)