The Mature Runner
By David Summerfield
The following two stories have to do with runners depicted as “disabled” or “challenged” in one way or another. Ha! These runners are hardly; their training makes them head-and-shoulders above us more normal runners.
First, there’s Makenna Myler, an Asics sponsored runner, who has been paving the way for women to keep running all through their pregnancies. I will relay the facts as I have found them, and let you make your own conclusions! I found the article at “yahoo!life,” written by Korin Miller. The title caught my eye: “Don’t be afraid to challenge reality.” Makenna ran a 5:17 mile while 9 months pregnant (a few weeks before her due date). Here is the picture that came with the article.
Nine months pregnant, no problem – photo courtesy of Makenna Myler herself.
As a professional runner, Makenna ran the 10,000 meters at the 2020 Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR, and came in 14th. Her PR is 32:03 at that distance. She also has a 4:42.40 mile to her credit (as well as a 15:31 5km PR). She decided in 2020 to run a mile within a week of her due date. It turns out she loves running timed miles on the track to celebrate important events – like running a mile on her wedding day (she would become a “Myler” – her husband’s last name – so it seemed appropriate!). She had the blessing of her obstetrician, and kept training right up until the delivery. She had a bet with her husband, who said she couldn’t run a sub-8 minute mile under those conditions. So, she ran a 5:25 on a $100 bet. Then, three years later, and being 3 weeks before the due date (this time it was February 21st – and due on March 15th), she ran a 5:17 mile! I found a Runner’s World interview written on March 13th, by Kells McPhillips (and taken from an NPR interview) with these quotes from Makenna: “It’s kind of funny. The weight almost just catches up to you in a sense. Like, all of a sudden, it hits your body that, like, you’re carrying this much weight. You need to slow down, even though you can kind of start out at a similar cadence.”
She added that while her midsection wasn’t shaking too much, her hips, quads, and lower back had to work overtime to propel her from one step to the next. She knew from her first timed mile (the 5:25 in 2020 before her first birth) she would get a lot of criticism for doing this; being irresponsible, endangering the life of a newborn, etc.
“There’s so many people who think I’m an absolute idiot,” she said. “And this time around, it’s just been quite a laugh with what people have to say. The comments are just absolutely ridiculous. The best is, ‘if men could run while pregnant, they would be running a four-minute mile, so this isn’t impressive.’”
And this leads me into one more story for April where an elite marathon runner saw a handicapped runner fumble trying to get a drink at the 10km table and helped him hydrate, and then ran with him 28 more kilometers, to make sure he had the water he needed. The report I read stated that Jacqueline Nyetipei Kiplimo ran beside the unknown Chinese runner for 28km, and left him with 5km to go. She raced ahead trying to catch the front pack, which she did! The Chinese runner was listed as an elite runner, but in the “disabled” category.
Jacqueline Nyetipei Kiplimo races alongside a Chinese runner and helps him along the course. (Photo from Skeptics.StackExchange.com)
Doing a little research, I found out that the Kenyan runner (Kiplimo) actually did finish this race in 2nd place, earning $6,000. The winner took home $15,000. They were 68 seconds apart at the finish (winner Chepkemoi, also a Kenyan, came in at 2:36:54). This all took place at the International Zheng-Kai Marathon in China on March 28th, 2010. There was some controversy with the veracity of the news article, but apparently it was thoroughly researched and everything checked out fine.
According to the story, Kiplimo came upon the “disabled” Chinese runner at a water stop and noticed he was having trouble handling the water cup. So, Kiplimo helped him out, and they ran side-by-side until the 38km mark, at which Kiplimo put on the afterburners, and caught back-up to the women’s front pack, almost pulling off the win. Of course there’s a lot of online comments about this incident, but the picture above is all I need.
These two articles inspired me to not take anyone’s (especially my) apparent difficulties in running as normal and then do something about it, like change the reality one is looking at. I would never call myself a “disabled” runner, though I often feel like one. Looking at the Chinese runner holding down somewhere around a 2:40 marathon pace, he certainly wasn’t laboring under any reality that said he shouldn’t be there in an “elite” category.
Hmmm, that gives me an idea; why not create my own category; I’m in the “Over 75 Beartooth Foothills Super Category.” So what if the vast majority of those I pass on the trails are all deer? Yes, they look a bit askance at me, and often scatter as I approach, but mainly they just stand there and stare. They must know they’re witnessing a miracle happening, right in front of their eyes!
These are my spectator deer, witnessing the miracle of my accomplishments!