- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

Since grade school, summer always has meant extra reading for me.

This summer, I’m catching up on some new running books, and first up is “26.2 Marathon Stories,” a labor of love from two experts in the business, the husband-wife team of Roger Robinson and Kathrine Switzer.

The 253-page historical pictorial is presented in, what else, 26.2 chapters, from the starting line in Chapter 2 to the halfway mark at Chapter 13 to the finish, appropriately named Ecstasy.

This is a fine complement to the coffee table collection of any serious marathoner. The book’s strength is its fabulous pictures. Photos include a shot of a woman sitting down after the Tibetan Marathon with Buddhist monks admiring her finishing medal, some great views from the mountains of the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland, the famous 1980 photo of Canadian hero Terry Fox and the snapshot that started Switzer’s meteoric rise to national fame, capturing race director Jock Semple’s lame attack to shove Switzer out of his “all-men’s” race at the 1967 Boston Marathon.

The book shows Robinson’s handle on history, with many references to the origin of the sport in the ancient Olympic Games and from the advent of the modern Olympic Games of 1896 to the present. And short bios on the hundreds of international marathon legends help move the book along.

A bit of a turnoff for me was that in several places the verbiage becomes a bit over-dramatic and overstates the importance of the marathon. For example, I find it hard to believe that “Finishers’ medals are the ultimate testimony to achievement and are valued as much as Olympic winners’ medals,” as the authors assert.

The book ends on this note: “Finishing a marathon is a contribution to something that is more like a movement than a sport. To finish a marathon is to attain a small piece of immortality.”

I never felt that way after my four marathons. Am I missing something?

Aside from leaving out one of my favorite marathoners, three-time Boston Marathon champ Uta Pippig, the book does make for a keeper at $29.95.

Unreal — In just one day, the New York Road Runners filled all 10,000 spots for its inaugural NYC Half-Marathon on Aug. 27.

The race loops through much of Manhattan’s streets, starting in Central Park, then down Seventh Avenue through Times Square, across 42nd Street and along the expansive West Side Highway to Battery Park in the heart of the city’s financial district, and finishing with a view of the Statue of Liberty — all without the pain of the full marathon.

Masons step to plate — The Veterans Day 10K has been a survivor on the Washington racing scene. This week, the race, which is scheduled for Nov. 12, received a boost from a new title sponsor, Justice-Columbia Lodge No. 3, one of the District’s oldest Masonic lodges.

The race is in its seventh year of production by Capital Running Company, although it did begin back in 1998 following other previous Veterans Day races. NASDAQ was the title sponsor from 1998 to 2000, but did not return in 2001 after Capital was beaten out for the permit for West Potomac Park by a competing race, the United We Stand 10K.

After United’s two-year stint, Capital was back in 2003 and until this week, Capital still was able to organize the next three years of Veterans Day races without a title sponsor.

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