Honesty of the Long Distance Runner

Courtesy Calleja (Diario de Navarra)

Courtesy Calleja (Diario de Navarra)

Sometimes winning isn’t everything. At least that’s what one elite Spanish runner thought when he had the chance to take the lead at a December race in Berlada, Spain, when the Kenyan runner leading the race mistakenly stopped short of the finish line, thinking he’d already crossed it.

Instead of passing by lead runner Abel Mutai, the second-place 24-year-old Spanish runner Fernández Anaya gestured to the Kenyan that he needed to keep going to finish and win the race. As the English version of the Spanish newspaper El Pais reports, from an interview Anaya did after the race:

“I didn’t deserve to win it,” says 24-year-old Fernández Anaya. “I did what I had to do. He was the rightful winner. He created a gap that I couldn’t have closed if he hadn’t made a mistake. As soon as I saw he was stopping, I knew I wasn’t going to pass him.”

What’s interesting is that this isn’t simply a pollyana-ish piece about good overcoming bad. As Anaya admits later in the interview, he probably would have passed by Mutai had the race been one in which the stakes were higher, like an Olympic trials race or one for a medal.

And his coach, former long distance runner Martín Fiz, openly admitted to the reporter that it was something he himself certainly wouldn’t have done:

“It was a very good gesture of honesty,” says Fiz. “A gesture of the kind that isn’t made any more. Or rather, of the kind that has never been made. A gesture that I myself wouldn’t have made. I certainly would have taken advantage of it to win.” (Emphasis added)

Honestly, as I read this I thought to myself, how many of us would make the same gesture in our own lives — and not just in a public event like this, where our actions would be seen. Would we do the same if no one would have known the difference otherwise, except ourselves?

Read the full story at El Pais.

Make Your Flu Shot More Effective… with a Run

sylvar/flickr.com

sylvar/flickr.com

Being active, especially getting cardiovascular exercise like running and walking, may improve your body’s ability to fight off the flu in concert with seasonal flu vaccine.

That’s what the New York Times reported this week, in a Well blog post by Gretchen Reynolds on a report by researchers at Iowa State University on the potential for exercise to give a boost to the immune system and help the body produce more antibodies to the influenza virus.

While past studies had established the effectiveness of exercise in improving overall immune response in people who ran, walked or worked out regularly, the Iowa State researchers wanted to know: would just a single run do the trick?

To find out, they recruited college students to take an hour-and-a-half-long jog or bicycle ride about 15 minutes after receiving a flu shot. To compare results, a separate set of students was asked not to exercise after getting the shot.

Even from just a single session of exercise after the shot, the results were encouraging. As Reynolds notes in her post:

Those volunteers who had exercised after being inoculated, it turned out, exhibited “nearly double the antibody response” of the sedentary group, said Marian Kohut, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State who oversaw the study, which is being prepared for publication. They also had higher blood levels of certain immune system cells that help the body fight off infection.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

Don’t Stop Running

Kim Olson/flickr.com

Kim Olson/flickr.com


Our brains get lots of benefits from running and other forms of cardiovascular exercise, according to a study presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans last fall and reported in the New York Times Well blog.

There’s just one catch: Stop running, and the benefits of exercise don’t seem to last very long.

The study looked at two groups of rats — one that was allowed to run whenever they wanted on running wheels, while the other was forced to remain sedentary. The rats that got lots of exercise, researchers found, performed much better in memory tests than those that didn’t.

But after they took a few weeks off, the exercised rats lost their edge, researchers found.

“Brain changes are not maintained when regular physical exercise is interrupted,” he said, adding that, “though our observations are restricted to rats, indirect evidence suggests that the same phenomenon occurs in human beings.”

Meaning that the lessons of both studies point in the same direction. For the ongoing health of our minds, as well as for the plentiful other health benefits of exercise, it might be wise to stick to those New Year’s exercise resolutions.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

(Yet Another) Race Company Cancels Events

Ken Hawkins/flickr.com

Ken Hawkins/flickr.com


Readers here will be familiar with stories from last year about race management companies cancelling events almost without warning, even though hundreds of runners had signed up and paid their registration fees to participate in several of their events.

Another race company appears to have folded in the opening weeks of 2013, as the California-based IO Events — which organized half marathons in Temecula, Calif.; Vista, Calif.; and San Diego — has closed its doors and cancelled its events.

The organizers tell the San Diego Union-Tribune that they will post information for runners on how to get refunds for events they’d already entered on the company’s website, www.ioevents.com.

So far as we can tell, this doesn’t appear to sink to the level of instances we saw last year, in which races were simply cancelled for no apparent reason and refunds not provided (though after major pressure from local officials and entrants in the cities where those races had been scheduled, refunds were later made in some cases).

It looks as if the race company has simply gone out of business here. Though surely that’s small comfort to anyone who signed up and has been training for months.

As they say, with the popularity of the half marathon and other distance races driving the creation of so many new events, buyer beware — most new races are obviously run by well-meaning people who simply want to stage fun, meaningful events for runners. Occasionally you run into people who aren’t so scrupulous, however, so please be careful.

Read the full story at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Update: Check out the Facebook page for Runners Trying to Get Refunds from IO Events.

Let’s Get Started… for 2013

Daniel Horande/flickr.com

Daniel Horande/flickr.com


So…. we’ve been away for a little while here on the blog and on HalfMarathons.Net. But we have a really good reason. At least I hope you think it’s a good reason!

The editor, owner and publisher of the site — that’s me, Terrell Johnson — just got married and had a honeymoon with my new bride in Montana, which was gorgeous and amazing.

During these past couple of weeks, however, updates to the site and the blog have been scarce. Today, that all changes.

We have tons of updates on the way, with new articles on great running apps and race fundraising efforts from our writer Carissa Liebowitz, and a new series of posts from our new guest blogger Melissa Mincic on the way.

There’s also lots of new races I plan on adding to the site, thanks to the dozens and dozens and dozens of race directors and race management companies who’ve written me to let me know of the new races they’re hosting across the country over the past couple of weeks.

It literally never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many races I add to the site here, there are always more. That means there are more and more opportunities to run in the race distance we all love, and that many more ways to stay fit and improve our health.

Here’s to a great 2013 for all of you guys, and a HUGE thanks once again to making this site possible with all of your contributions.