Fast footnotes from fleet Marathoners

marathonthumb-041One of my favorite things to do each Boston Marathon is dig into the numbers at the back of the pack.

Because really, that’s where some of the best stories can be found.

Like the story in the photo above. Richard Whitehead of the U.K. ran a 3:02 today. I don’t know enough about him or his background right now – I’m looking, but I can tell you that he has cut his marathon time nearly in half in just five years. Then again – what more do you need to know beyond the picture to be inspired by him? Wow.

(Photo credit: Rob Larsen,, under a Creative Commons license)

It’s in the stories of people like Terry McCluskey of Vienna, Ohio. He cranked through the 26.2 miles in 963rd place. Out of 20-odd thousand runners, that’s pretty good – especially when you consider that at 60 years old, he was the oldest runner in the field to break 3 hours.

Not to be outdone, Susumu Ichida of Japan put up some nice numbers, as well. At 71, he ran a 3:16 – good for the Top 4000, and great for any age.

And who was the fastest guy on the course today? Not Deriba Merga, that’s for sure. It wasn’t Ernst Van Dyk, either – although the 8-time winner put up a speedy 1:33:29. (Actually, for him, that was a little slow – his slowest pace in any of his Boston victories.

The fastest person on the course was Arkadiusz Skrzypinski. He cranked a handcycle over the 26 miles, up Heartbreak Hill and down into Kenmore Square to the finish in 1:24:44. Let’s do the math. He cranked a handcycle – a piece of equipment most of us would be hard-pressed to move a half-mile – over 26 miles at an average speed of 18.5 miles per hour.

Ever try to drive the route on a good day in a car? An hour, 24 minutes wouldn’t be bad. And then you’d have to pay for parking.

It wouldn’t be right not to recognize the oldest woman on the course. Katherine Beiers of Santa Cruz, California beat a lot of people literally half her age. At 76, she finished in 5 hours, 50 seconds.

As for the elder statesman on the course? He’s a local. John Di Comandrea of Revere was one of two 81-year-olds on the course. He finished in 6 hours, 6 minutes.

Only a handful get laurels – but all 20,000+ plus who ran, walked and raised a ton of money for charity deserve a tip of the hat – and a good massage.

(I posted this on the NECN ‘Boston Score’ blog, too… but I liked it enough to get it here as well.)