Test your knowledge – take this quiz

By taking this quiz, you can determine how knowledgeable you are about running history. Though it’s virtually impossible to score a perfect six out of six, give it a try. The correct answers and how you rate follow the quiz.

1) John Walker, who ran the first sub-3:50 mile in 1975, is from what country?

A) USA  B) Deer Park  C) Florida  D) England  E) Distancerunistan  F) New Zealand


2) Bernard Lagat, a naturalized US citizen from Kenya has been one of the top US middle distance runners for years. What university did he attend?

A) Spokane Community College  B) Villanova  C) Dresden School of Beauty  D) Washington State  E) ITT Technical Institute  F) Penn State


3) In 1984, what American won the first Olympic Women’s Marathon with a time of 2:24:53, then a year later, ran an American record 2:21:21 that would last for 18 years?

A) Lady Gaga  B) Steve Prefontaine  C) I.P. Aard  D) Joan Benoit  E) Brad Pitt  F) Julia Roberts



4) Pictured above is Paavo Nurmi of Finland, the only runner to simultaneously hold the mile, 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter world track records. He won nine gold medals during his Olympic career in the 1920’s. What was Paavo Nurmi’s nickname?

A) Superbad Fasty  B) The Scorcher  C) 5F  (Finnish Fireball Finishes First Forever)  D) Flying Finn  E) Pantin’ Paavo  F) Golden Legs of Speed


5) Name the Greek soldier who originated the marathon by running from Marathon, Greece to Athens in 490 BC.

A) Pheidippides  B) Minnesota Fats  C) Brad Pitt  D) Aristotle  E) Bernard Lagat  F) Hercules


The difficulty rating for the next question is 10, the highest level possible. Refer to the below photo for a clue to the answer.

jim ryun6) The runner pictured on this magazine held the world mile record for eight years. He’s the only American runner to run a sub-4 minute mile as a junior in high school, and set an American record in the mile as a high school senior. Who is he?

A) Bill Clinton  B) Mike Boit  C) Jim Ryun  D) Minnesota Fats  E) Jonathan Hill  F) Brad Pitt


Answers: 1) New Zealand  2) Washington State  3) Joan Benoit  4) Flyin’ Finn 5) Pheidippides  6) Jim Ryun

5-6 right – Congratulations, you are an expert.

3-4 right – You are very, very good. You are an impressive individual.

1-2 right – You’re above average. Give yourself a pat on the back.

0 right – Please enroll in my low-cost, on-line course, Running History 101.



Petra and I tangle

In my last post, I wrote how I missed meeting Petra for coffee because of a miscommunication. Luckily, a fellow Irish Running Club member, Gerry Manfred, intervened and saved the day.

Petra and I finally made it to the Rockwood Bakery, and after some small talk, I went right to my core issue. “Petra, I’d like to have a relationship with you.”

“What kind of relationship do you have in mind?” she asked, folding her arms.

“I’d describe it as intense realism.”

Petra broke down in laughter. “Intense realism? That sounds like a style of painting.”

“Well, you see, Petra, intense realism has the qualities of bright colors and controlled strokes carefully applied to a soft medium, but it’s not painting. It’s relationshipness.”

“You’ll have to give me a better idea of this style of relationship because, you know, since breaking up with Byron, I don’t look at coupledom the way I used to.”

“I can relate to that. Since I have some experience as well, I know over time how a couple, despite being in love, experience…..complacency.”

“Yeah, but complacency is for mild cases. Lots of couples get to the point where they either don’t want to be together any more, or feel stifled by a lack of freedom.”

“True, oh knowledgeable one, but if a pair are on the same wavelength, have similar experiences and background, and whose greatest desire is simply to be side by side, then I think the worse they’ll experience is complacency.”

Petra leaned back, her eyes locked on mine. “How do you alleviate complacency?”

“By giving each other freedom, which includes the always present desire to be fluffy with others.”

“That’s dangerous territory,” Petra said. “Another always present desire is to not be left for someone else.”

“That’s true, but if you’re a strong couple, and both have agreed to incorporate fluffiness with others, it fosters trust and causes any vestige of jealousy to wane. And in the end, the couple always wants to come home to each other.”

Petra smiled. “I’m starting to comprehend your vernacular. Being fluffy with others would certainly be intense realism.” She took a sip from her coffee mug and set it down, staring at me the whole time. “I haven’t told you this, Jim, but ever since we met, I’ve been a little crazy about you.”

I had to look away, and I fought and fought because there was no way it’d look good losing it in front of her and all the customers. She is my twin soul, and my heart is totally owned by her.



My near miss with Petra

Last Saturday, I arranged to meet Petra at two o’clock at the Rockwood Bakery to talk about a possible relationship. Based on comments she’d made before breaking up with Byron, I believe she and I may have similar views.

Rockwood bakeryPictured above is the Rockwood Bakery, where Manito Runners Club members convene following their Saturday morning run. I did not run the day of our meeting. I’m still out with a hurt toe.

I arrived a little early, ordered a drink, and found a secluded table. At 2:20, Petra still hadn’t shown. I didn’t think she’d stand me up, and she lives so close to the Rockwood Bakery. I wondered what was up. I pulled out my phone, and could’ve kicked myself. I forgot to charge it.

After more than a half hour of waiting, I left. As I was walking home, a fellow Flying Irish Running Club member, Gerry Manfred, happened to drive past. He honked, pulled to the side of the road and rolled his window down.

Gerry Manfred is a dedicated runner and a good guy.

Gerry Manfred’s a dedicated runner and a good guy.

“Jim, what are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m headed home. Why?”

“Petra’s sitting all alone waiting for you.”


At the Rocket Bakery on 14th. She’s been there since two o’clock. She tried calling you. What’s wrong with you?”

“I thought we were meeting at the Rockwood Bakery. May I borrow your phone, Gerry?”

I got hold of Petra and found out I’d said Rocket Bakery when I meant Rockwood Bakery. She told me she’d be right over. Gerry had stopped at The Rocket for coffee and even though he had briefly talked to Petra just once months ago, he recognized her, and they ended up having a lengthy chat.

“Thanks, Gerry,” I said, returning his phone. “You saved the day.”

“Listen, Jim,” Gerry said. “Do the right thing – treat that girl well. She’s a darling.”

“You’re right – she is a darling. I’ll do my best, Gerry.”

He gave me a wave as he drove off, and a few minutes later, Petra arrived.

“Sorry, sweet pea. Totally my bad,” I said.

“It’s all right, oh injured one. Let’s get something to eat.”

In next week’s post, I’ll give details about our conversation.


Injuries – that’s my middle name

About a week and a half ago, I jammed my toe and tripped while going down some stairs at home. It was near the bottom of the staircase, and the fall didn’t hurt, but my toe didn’t come out of it so well.

footI posted the above photo on Facebook and an acquaintance, Jim Hoppe, a very experienced distance runner, commented that competitors in the Leadville 100 often have similar looking toes after the race and use drills to relieve pressure under the nail. He recommended I use a ¼ inch bit. I replied I’d done it before, unsuccessfully using the back-door method to fix a tooth in the very back of my mouth. I posted a photo as proof.

drilledTo be real, this is a gag photo taken when I was a college student.

I just finished a three-week layoff for a minor calf muscle tear, so now I get to have more time off. If the toe is broken, I’m looking at about five weeks. It’s the second time I’ve broken this toe.

When I was a 19-year-old, I entered the mile at an all-comers track meet at Spokane Community College. It was mid-June, school had just gotten out, and I’d been running only a short time because I’d missed the outdoor track season with yet another injury – a stress fracture.

At the meet, I told my longtime friend, Dave Dixon, who ran for the University of Idaho, that I wanted to get under 4:20 during the summer. He expressed doubt, knowing that I just resumed running.

I finished the race in 4:29, and Dave said to me afterward, “Maybe you can get under 4:20.”

A few days later, Dave and I were horsing around, wrestling, and my foot got slammed against his foot. Broken toe – end of sub-4:20 quest.

When I was younger, I was disappointed and frustrated when I got injured, and it happened over and over. I’ve had stress fractures in both tibias, both fibulas, both feet, and believe it or not, both femurs – all on separate occasions. I’ve had tendinitis, shin splints, a torn meniscus – twice, and multiple episodes with lower back pain that ultimately ended in back surgery. Three times in my running career I’ve had to lay off from running for a year or more.

However, when I get injured these days, instead of disappointment, it’s a shoulder shrug and an “Oh, well”. Though I never realized the times I was capable of, I’m grateful for all the friends I’ve met through running, and that I’m healthy, usually uninjured and can still run.

A woman alone, soon is not

(To start off the new year, I’m re-posting a blog entry from July 26th, which I consider one of my top ones from 2013. I’ll resume with new posts next week.)

When there are only two people in a room, one a man, one a woman, and I’m the man, it’s natural for me to want her attention. This was the situation when I went to a coffee shop this morning.

coffee waiting2

After doing a seven-miler early to avoid the heat, I walked to a coffee place near my house at the corner of Wall and Nebraska. The morning rush was over and the woman in front of me, electing not to purchase the caramel cinnamon roll because it’d be too much, was the only other customer in the shop.

coffee shop bakeryAfter she took a chair in the seating area, I ordered my usual 12-ounce mocha and for the first time ever, a caramel cinnamon roll.

I sat a couple tables away, noticing she had a top with stylized lettering on her sleeve that read AFS. I offered an apology for interrupting her reading of The Inlander and asked if AFS stood for Awesomely Fast Sprinter.

She said it was natural for me to think of a running-related term after I mentioned I was a runner, but AFS stood for the company she owned, Animal Fulfillment Specialists.

After a few minutes of chat, I told her the caramel cinnamon roll she thought about getting was beyond delicious and offered to share. Her shy smile told me it was okay to move to her table.

coffee waitingShe had flown in from the East Coast a couple days earlier. Her company provides unique experiences for people using both ordinary and unusual animals. She was in Spokane arranging a wagon pulled by a horse, an ox, a camel, and an alpaca for a 16-year-old’s birthday party.

coffee sharingWhen I remarked on the diversity of the wagon-pulling team, she said that was only the start. Riding in the wagon with the birthday celebrants were guinea hens, Peruvian ferrets, ocelot kittens, and long-haired fedoras.

When I questioned her apparent mistake, she said in the southern Brazilian state of San Rio Escalana, natives know that long-haired fedoras are not hat wear.

Though she mentioned her husband was arriving later in the day to assist with the birthday wagon, as I departed, I asked if she was willing to go on a drive together in the country sometime and identify animals for me.

She shook my hand and broke into a smile. “I have lots of experience with that. I’m a great animal identifier.”