Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The world's greatest athlete has done it again.

On Sunday, at the Waterloo, Ontario Half Marathon, Canadian phenom, 85-year old Ed Whitlock, destroyed another world record. Whitlock crushed the 13.1 mile course in 1:50:47, that's an 8:27 per mile pace, destroying the previous age group record for 85-year olds by 9:17

Currently, and this number is certain to rise, as Ed Whitlock relishes the fact that he's a year older with another age group to dominate, he holds more than 80 age group world records at distances from 1500 meters to the marathon.

Last Thanksgiving Day, at Berwick's Run for the Diamonds, I had the honor of meeting Ed Whitlock. The man ranks as one of the most gracious individuals I have ever met. We discussed training, injuries, and our love of running.

In November I wrote a blog about my thrill of meeting this living legend.

The next day I received an email from Mr. Whitlock thanking me for writing about him.

The way I see it, Ed Whitlock has many more records to break and several more age groups to dominate.

Monday, April 25, 2016


The magic of modern technology requires I hit the 'Send' button and this blog makes its way around the world, so I suppose I can't speak for all corners of the earth, but for most of us, this time of year provides nearly perfect running conditions.

Temperatures are pleasant, but not too warm. Most mornings are cool, and some afternoons are breezy. Sunshine feels good after a long winter of darkness. And speaking of darkness, the increased hours of daylight afford us more hours in which we can conduct our outdoor activities.

It's a good time of year to race, and races abound everywhere.

Colors, sights, sounds, and even the smell of the air seem more distinct, as we, as runners experience them in a way that mere mortals can't.

So appreciate each moment that you are able to get outdoors to run, walk, cycle, or swim.

Because, it really is a perfect time of the year.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Thanks to today's information age, it is easier than ever for fitness enthusiasts to acquire information about staying fit and maximizing our fitness level.

Check out a new site that offers training advice in a variety of fitness sports for folks at any level, lists events, finds groups to get you motivated, and allows you to create your own profile and record your fitness journey in the community.

Following is a description of the Linked Fitness mission.

The site is: Linked Fitness. www.linkedfitness.com, and you can register for free.

"Here at Linked Fitness, we believe that keeping fit and healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. Our mission is to inspire you to achieve your goals by providing all the latest fitness information and a wide range of tools to support your progress and keep you on track.

Join the Linked Fitness Community and get creative by designing your own profile and connecting up with other members to share your ideas and keep motivated. Find sporting and fun fitness events to attend in your local area. Nothing interesting happening near you? Why not create your own fitness group and invite others to meetup and get active with you in your neighbourhood.

Linked Fitness will be here for you every step of the way to provide you with the knowledge and inspiration you need to succeed. Whatever your fitness level or lifestyle, we understand that keeping fit and staying healthy can be tough, so let us support you in achieving your goals whilst still having fun."

Join today, at www.linkedfitness.com. This is an exciting and a very informative site.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Jimmy Buffett once wrote a song entitled, "It's My Job."

The tune celebrates the dignity of performing one's job, from street sweeper to bank president.

I try to respect the dignity of everyone's line of work, but I must say I do take issue, at times, with those whose job it is to deliver the weather forecast.

As I watched yesterday's Boston Marathon, I was pleased to see the graphic that told me the high temperature would reach 58 degrees, with a mild headwind. Almost perfect conditions, I mused.

Then I watched as the leaders of the women's division labored through the Newton Hills, reading a subsequent graphic which read, "72 degrees."


Come on.

What happened to 58?

The bottom line is, yesterday was an unforgiving day for runners in the 120th Boston Marathon.

Conditions didn't approach the over-90 degree reading of 1976, or the heat of the 1982 race, which was dubbed, "The Duel in the Sun," or even the 80-something blast furnace conditions of 2012.

But make no mistake about it. For most runners, after training through cold winter conditions, yesterday's Boston Marathon felt like a day at the beach. And, when one is running a marathon, a day at the beach is the very last place one wants to be.

There was no cloud cover and there is no shade, (no leaves on the trees yet) and conditions were perfect for spectators, which meant conditions were very imperfect for runners.

Few marathons are as unforgiving as the Boston Marathon. If a runner "Lets the genie out of the bottle," that is, goes out too fast, in this race, the race is lost. Never mind how well you were running at sixteen miles, because, at Boston, that's where the race begins.

One can roll a coin from the start at Hopkinton, and it will continue to roll all the way to Framingham. A fast downhill start could lead to a personal best 10K time at the Boston Marathon. The Newton Hills, however, will snatch that time away and jolt fast starters back to reality.

You can't fool the Boston Marathon. One must enter the race rested and with fresh legs. Run too many races prior to Boston, and the course will make you pay.

Yesterday's times weren't so much slow as they were conservative. Runners who respected the unforgiving nature of the course and the day were able to cut their losses and take what the course would give.

Congratulations to all who crossed the finish line yesterday. You have added your names to the list of Boston Marathon heroes. And you learned that the Boston Marathon is a very unforgiving race.

Everything you need to know about the Boston Marathon can be found in both of my books, at: www.muldowneyrunning.net, amazon.com/author/joemuldowney

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Boston, Massachusetts is the epicenter of the running world at this moment. The thousands of runners, their families and friends, and the people of the city who adore them are mingling, and enjoying the sights and sounds of one of the world's great sporting events.

Runners will be treated like the special athletes they are, by pedestrians, police, waiters, and cab drivers. The people of Boston know and respect runners. And, they know and respect an iconic event that has been conducted for the past 120 years.

On Monday, Patriots' Day, nearly one million spectators will cheer on the runners, in what could be described as one big block party. They will blast music, tunes like the 'Rocky' theme, 'Chariots of Fire,' and 'Born to Run,' from frat houses and front lawns. Water, orange slices, and wet cloths will be offered to runners by ordinary spectators. At Wellesley, thousands of girls from the college will display signs, scream at the runners, and even steal a hug or a kiss.

Boston College, Red Sox fans, and Commonwealth Avenue denizens will escort the runners into the city, where, they will make a right on Hereford, then a left on Boylston toward the greatest finish line of the greatest marathon on the face of the earth.

Monday's weather appears to be ok for both runners and spectators. A high temperature of 64 degrees is expected. Runners would prefer it to be a bit cooler, but 64 isn't too bad.

It's a great weekend in Boston.

But it will be a greater Monday.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

-Hebrews 12:1

When the nearly 30,000 runners line up at the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on April 18 for the 120th running of the fabled Boston Marathon, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, will be represented by one “Fast Father.”

Father Christopher M. Zelonis, 39, is a Catholic priest who resides at Saint Clare of Assisi Parish in Saint Clair and ministers to the Catholic population at the Schuylkill Medical Center, Pottsville, as well as several area nursing homes. He grew up in Saint Clair, graduated from Nativity B.V.M. High School in 1994, earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Allentown in 2003.

Halfway through his seminary career, in response to looming health concerns in his immediate family and personal spiritual struggles, he began to improve his previously poor habits of diet and exercise.

Walking soon graduated to running as his weight decreased and his miles increased. Aside from running a 5 mile race in the seminary, and a handful of local 5Ks near a previous assignment in Reading, Zelonis did not consider himself to be a competitive runner.

In 2009 he returned to frequent running after a hiatus. By 2012 his long runs became more frequent; on one day off he surprised himself and his mother by running to Tamaqua to meet her for dinner.

 The suggestions of friends and the sight of “26.2” bumper stickers finally convinced him to sign up for the Via Marathon, held in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which he completed in September 2013 with a time of 3:36:12.

At last year’s Pocono Run for the Red Marathon, Zelonis survived blistering temperatures, and upon crossing the finish line, earned a trip to the medical tent, a victim of heat exhaustion and dehydration.  More importantly, however, he earned a qualifying time of 3 hours, 3 minutes, 12 seconds, which qualified him for this year’s Boston Marathon.

His quest to run the Boston Marathon, however, would not come without a significant obstacle.

While visiting friends in San Antonio last summer, Zelonis embarked on a daily training run. A quarter mile from home, he stopped at an intersection, but a vehicle making a right turn did not. The car ran over his foot, the compression and torque tore his heel, and he received stitches both inside and outside of the skin.

Undeterred, he slowly built up his training mileage, recovered from the injury, and has returned to marathon-running form.

On Saturday, he competed in the Two Rivers Half Marathon, a 13.1-mile race, held in Lackawaxen. There he ran a personal best time of 1:23:29, earning a second place finish. Later in the day, he completed an “Easter Double,” as, on wobbly legs, he celebrated an Easter Vigil service.

In Boston, on Marathon Monday, thanks to superb preparation and intense dedication, Father Zelonis is certain to run his best in the race God has set before him.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


I like it.

I like the fact that, in the past few years, running has become the people's sport.

I like that, in the face of a worldwide obesity epidemic that threatens, for the first time in modern history that the next generation may have a shorter lifespan than ours, that more people are entering more running races than ever.

I'm happy that 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons continue to grow in numbers.

But I really like the fact that the Boston Marathon, the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon, continues to strictly adhere to qualifying standards.

The Boston Marathon is special, in a sport that is special. In no other sport can you actually compete with the elite athletes of that sport. When you run a race, you could possibly compete against an Olympic champion.

And at Chicago, New York City, or London, if you enter quickly enough, pay an outrageous entry fee, or get yourself on a waiting list, you're in!

But not at the Boston Marathon.

You must qualify at a Boston-approved marathon, and you must do so within a prescribed time period.

To me, it makes a unique running event even more magical.

In a goal-oriented sport, it makes folks work very hard to achieve a worthy goal.

And, in a sport that oozes democracy, where all runners are created equal, it is a great equalizer. Our name, pedigree, or past accomplishments mean nothing if you're not able to qualify.

Lest you think that I speak from some lofty perch, think again.

I have competed in sixteen Boston Marathons. In 1983, I ran my personal best marathon of 2:22:54 at the Boston Marathon. After running a 3:04 at the 2013 race, I suffered a string of injuries that may prevent me from ever returning to the Boston Marathon. Because if I don't qualify, I'm out.

And that's alright.

It gives me hope. It gives me an incentive. If I want to go back, if have to qualify, just like everyone else. Qualifying times provide all of us, despite our age, an incentive to run the big race.

Keep those qualifying times Boston Marathon. Crack down on the cheaters and keep the race special and pure.

That qualifies in my mind as a pretty good deal.

Monday, April 4, 2016


There's only one major marathon that dares to hold its event on a Monday.

It has been doing so for 120 years.

The race is the Boston Marathon.

Why Monday?

That easy.

The third Monday of April is Patriots' Day. A holiday celebrated in the states of Massachusetts and Maine (which, in colonial times, was part of Massachusetts). Many businesses are closed, and schools are shut down in honor of this historic day,

Around midnight on April 19, 1776, a force of about 700 British 'Regulars,' some of the finest soldiers in the world at the time, began a march from Boston to the tiny village of Concord, some 20 miles west of the city. Tensions between the British, who occupied the city, and the colonists were tense, and the British believed the locals were storing weapons and ammunition in Concord.

Surrounding towns were warned of the pending arrival of British soldiers by three men: William Dawes, Doctor Samuel Prescott, and Paul Revere. Revere, the most celebrated but least effective of the three, made it only to the village of Lexington before being detained by the British, warning the townsfolk that "The regulars are out."Contrary to popular folklore, he did not say, "The British are coming," because, everyone living in the area was British.

Near dawn, a local militia, about 70 untrained men and boys from the village of Lexington, muskets in hand, attempted to block the road on which the 700 British soldiers approached.

Shots were fired, 8 American colonists were killed and 10 were wounded. The American Revolution had begun.

The British made it to Concord, where the colonists had successfully hidden their cache of weapons and ammo.

As the British attempted to return to Boston, they were attacked by the Concord militia at the North Bridge. On the march back to the city, colonists fought  guerrilla-warfare style, shooting British soldiers from behind trees, rocks, and from barn windows.73 British soldiers were killed and nearly 200 were wounded during the skirmishes.

The war between Great Britain and her American colonies had begun.

The American Revolutionary War would drag on for eight years after these initial battles, The result was the birth of a new nation.

Courage, strength, and incredible dedication were the attributes of the early American Patriots.

They are the same attributes that earn one a place in the field at the Boston Marathon.

It is fitting, then, that the race is held on Patriots' Day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Two weeks from tomorrow, the 120th Boston Marathon will be run.

Runners will enjoy the history, the excitement, and the roar of the crowds that annually cheer wildly for the participants on Patriots' Day.

After a fast start, the screams of the girls at Wellesley College, the half-way mark of the race, and the Newtown Hills, one final climb will challenge the leg-weary competitors: the famed Heartbreak Hill.

Why "Heartbreak Hill?"

Why not BC hill? I mean, it is close to Boston College.

How about "Final Hill?"

Once you crest it, it's all downhill and flat to the finish
To find out why this less than a half mile bump, which ends at about the 20.5-mile mark of the Boston Marathon, you should read the chapter entitled, 'Boston,' in my first book, Running Shorts.
www.runningshortsbook.net, amazon.com/author/joemuldowney

That's what we call the 'tease.'

Following is an excerpt from the chapter, "Boston," which explains the origin of the moniker, "Heartbreak Hill."

"Johnny Kelley notched his first of two Boston Marathon victories in 1935, after having endured a second place finish the year before. Kelley became the favorite to win the 1936 race. He did not, but the story of his defeat is richly steeped in Boston folklore.

Climbing the last of the Newton Hills, Kelley who had lagged behind the leader, Elison "Tarzan' Brown, a Narragansett Indian, whose shoes fell apart at the twenty-one mile mark of the previous year's race, surged up the incline, apparently catching the front runner. At that point, Kelley, by all accounts a sportsman, tapped Brown on the back as a sign of respect. Brown, however, construed the gesture as a taunt, and became infuriated. The Indian then sprinted down the other side of the hill, into the city, breaking both Kelley's will and heart.

The site of running's most famous pat on the back is forever known as Heartbreak Hill."

A memorial statue of Johnny Kelley, who died in 2004, at the age of 97, stands atop Heartbreak Hill today.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


In 1996, the Boston Marathon celebrated its centennial race.

The world's oldest continuously held marathon was turning 100, and the running world, more than ever, descended upon the historic race.

A few days before the race, the volatile New England weather dropped over a foot of snow on Boston and its suburbs. Race organizers worries turned to the staging area. 38,708 runners were scheduled to run the marathon, and the tiny village of Hopkinton, "Where it all begins," was buried under a blanket of snow.

Warmer temperatures melted the white stuff, turning the athletes village into a muddy mess. So, race officials were assisted by the National Guard, which utilized a convoy of helicopters to swoop close to the ground, their huge blades soaking up the moisture, thus drying out the earth for the army of athletes.

35,868 official finishers crossed the line in Boston at the centennial race, which still stands as the largest Boston finishing field ever.

It was an exciting race to be a part of.

Every Boston Marathon, for all participants, is historic.

Friday, April 1, 2016


The month of April has begun with April Fool's Day, a concept I really can't grasp any more.

In an age of social media and 30-second news cycles, we're never sure if we have been fooled each time we pick up a device or turn on our televisions.

Don't be fooled by imitations.

There's only one.

There will only ever be one.

It'll never be held on a Sunday.

It won't be deterred by snow, rain, wind, or blistering temperatures

It will be run from point to point, the way it has been run since 1896.

Although it is truly a "people's race," you have to earn your way into it.

The crowds, rowdy, raucous, and respectful, will always carry the participants.

The 120th Boston Marathon will be run on April 18.

From now until then I will devote all my blogs to this iconic race. Three years ago I ran my 16th, and probably my last, Boston Marathon, dating back to 1977.

 A series of injuries which began with a torn hamstring tendon suffered three weeks after the 2013 race have severely curtailed my running.

But the Boston Marathon is, and will always be, my favorite race, for many reasons.

No fooling around here.

Boston Marathon facts, legends and lore will abound on this age for the next few weeks.

You can read my personal account of the events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon in my book, Personal Best, available at: www.muldowneyrunning.net, and at amazon.com/author/joemuldowney