I’m a pretty big nerd and I’m big into running. One might say I’m a pretty big running nerd. I’m constantly talking about running, reading about running, and literally, actually running.
What I’m not is a running STATS nerd. Some people are. I’m not. I don’t care who won the Boston Marathon for the last two years, nor do I even know what the world record is for a marathon time. If I needed to know, I would just goggle it. (It’s 2:03:23 set by Wilson Kipsang in case you’re now curious. I just looked it up).
Why is the fact that I’m not a running-stats nerd important? Because I just finished the Running Encyclopedia and I may have skipped A LOT of it but I still feel like I can offer a good book review.
This book is actually pretty interesting for runners, even the non-stats nerds like me. There is more than just stats in there. The authors love to insert a little humor so the you don’t get bored by the monotony of an encyclopedia. For example, the definition for Gore-Tex starts out like this: “Al Gore may have claimed to invent the internet, but he didn’t invent Gore-Tex…..” and they insist on calling “rest” a four-letter word!
Although the version I got from the library was published in 2002 and is slightly out of date, it is still filled with years and years of running information. Complete with a user’s guide, there is everything thing from famous runners, different races, running shoes, brands, books, to definitions of running related things (i.e. fartlek or band aids – yes, that’s in there).
“The Running encyclopedia: The Ultimate source for Today’s Tunner” was written and put together by two famous running writers: Richard Benyo (a past Runner’s World publisher) and Joe Henderson (a magazine writer). It includes mostly information on road racing, like the 5k, 10K, half and full marathon, but has little on Cross Country events, Track and Field or ultras.
- Famous Races – maybe even a few I’ll consider for my out-of-state races.
- More information on my running heroes – I know very little about famous runners, but the ones I do know are definitely listed in this book. Like, Kathrine Switzer, the first female to run the Boston with a bib in 1967. She registered at K. Switzer, so none of the race directors knew she was a women. I’m sure you’ve all seen the famous picture of the race director trying to pull her off the course. But, actually, it was Roberta Gibb to be the first female to run boston, sans a bib.
- I picked up a few more running heroes – Like Joan Benoit who was the first ever American olympic marathon finisher for women in 1984. She had knee surgery just before competing and finished in 2:24:52 and that was the first year they introduce the women’s marathon to the olympics games.
- Fun facts about running history – like tidbits from the first traditional olympic marathon and other races. (The Yonker’s Marathon is the 2nd oldest American race, after the Boston marathon of course).
- Fun running related things to look out for – Like the Hash House Harriers, a drinking club with a running problem, that has chapters all over the world.
- Fun new terms – Like Megamarathoners: people who have completed over 100 marathons!
What I didn’t read, but want you all may get from the book:
- PLENTY of statistics – who won what race, with what time, whenever…blah blah blah.
- Fun side stories or old articles from Runner’s World and other magazines written by the encyclopedia’s authors about whatever particular topic you’re on in the book.
- There was LOTS of other people, american and non, that I had never heard of, nor would I ever remember if I had read about them and their running feats.
Other Fun Facts, if you’re interested/Did you know????
- The first US marathon was held from Stamford, Connecticut to Knickerbecker Athletic Club in Manhattan in 1896. It had 30 entrants and only 10 finishers. The winning time was 3:25:55 by John McDermatt. This race was never run again, and the first Boston was held in the following Spring.
- Some fun facts about the Olympic Marathon – The first modern olympic marathon was held in 1896, and actually, there was two races a few weeks before the official olympics competitors ran the course. The first was held for the area club members and there was a dozen competitors. The second was two weeks later, an open race, and 38 people ran. On April 10th, 1896, the 3rd traditional marathon was held for Olympic Competitors. There was one US guy name Arthur Blake, but he failed to finish. It wasn’t until 1900 that an american, Arthur Newton placed 5th and ran the distance in 4:04:12 and would have won the race if it weren’t for people cutting corners due to a poorly marked course.
- Joan Benoit was the first US Female to win a marathon olympic gold in 1984 with a time of 2:24:52
- In 1908, at The London Olympics, the distance was changed to add the point two to accommodate for the royal family to view the proceedings. American Johnny Hayes won and from there on out, the marathon was 26.2 miles.
- In 1952 at the Helsinki Games, Emil Zotopek of Czechoslovakia won both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races. He then elected to run the marathon, the first time ever doing that distance. He won with a time of 2:23:04!
- How the marathon got it’s start: Pheidippides, the marathon patron saint! He died on the gates of Athens after running about 25 miles to announce the victory over the invading Persians. Little do people know (or, I didn’t know), He had previously run about 300 miles, round trip to Sparta and back. The encyclopedia states that it may not even have been Pheidippides that bore the message and he may have made a full recovery. I guess we’ll never know!
So, if you’re just curious about more running related things, or if you are a running stats nerd, you should definitely find a copy of this book. I checked mine out from the library – YES! Those still do exist!
YOUR TURN: Are you a running stats nerd?? Or do you follow famous runners either from the past or current?
More information on the book, click HERE
World Records list for all running events
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