Thursday, May 10, 2007

The 2007 Results of the Bannister Mile

From: Caprera, David A.

Fourteen brave and true toed the line at lunch today. The conditions
were ideal, though perhaps just a touch warm. Manual High School. The
guy in the stands had no idea what was about to transpire; that he could
be, perhaps, the lone witness to history in the making. Or more likely,
that he could witness fourteen guys in running shorts appearing to have
a good time while they stretched, cajoled, and ran a warm-up lap (for
about half of us I use the term "lap" loosely as it included running a
quarter of the way around and cutting back across the football field.)

We decided to run a single heat. Fourteen is an awkward number on the
track, but we would spread out quickly and there would prove to be
plenty of room. It seemed fitting that George, as the senior citizen of
the group ("Hey, who's oldest?" "George is"), would also be the
starter. We arranged ourselves by expected time of finish and, on
George's signal, we were off.

From the back of the pack, I missed the better part of the action. I am
guessing that for most of us, the first 200 was the fastest split.
Let's just say that does not comport with conventional mile racing
strategy. Up in the front, Scott and Steve battled, with Steve hanging
to Scott's shoulder for 200 but with Scott pulling away. The middle of
the pack took a couple of laps to order itself and left open the
possibility for some very close races within races at the finish.

To no one's real surprise, Scott was the clear victor. However, his
5:01 was a very slight personal disappointment. Perhaps if he had
someone to run with, it would have been the 2 seconds faster which he
sought. The finish was as follows:

Scott 5:01
Steve F 5:21
Chris 5:42 (I regret missing that finish, but Chris paid later
with a pulled muscle in the relay)
Dennis 5:43
Gray Pete 5:47
Steve C 5:56
Craig 6:02 (To quote Craig, "I felt pretty sure I could catch
Jay 6:04
Tom 6:07
George 6:37
Bob 6:40
Dave 6:46
Carlos 6:58
Doug 7:15

After about 15 minutes of recovery (that would be 17 minutes for Scott -
no wonder he runs faster, he gets more rest time), we assembled two
teams for an 8x200 relay. The "A" team was to consist of Scott, and the
runners who finished 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 and 13. The "B" team was to be made
up of Steve F and the runners who finished 3, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 14. At
least that is how it was supposed to work. But somehow, the B team
ended up with the 13th and 14th runners. I don't know how that happened
(I do observe it moved me from the B team to the A team in the process,
but you guys all know me and will believe me when I say it was
unintentional and uncalculated) and I would appreciate someone telling
me where we went wrong. Both Scott and Steve F ran two legs, but it was
the first leg that had the real flavor of a race. Steve F showed why it
is better to be young than it is to be talented (at least in the 200)
and bested Scott by a couple of strides. After that, it was hard to
tell the leader without a program. The final outcome was A team 4:19, B
team 4:32.

But it wasn't about the times. It was hell of a lot of fun. My offer
of $1.00 for the first person to break four minutes went uncollected, as
did the more generous and perhaps slightly more realistic offer of Dave
Chipman to buy a Jamba Juice for anyone under 4:50. And Bannister had
it right, "Running is not a spectator sport. The race belongs to the
runner." Be assured that we will do it again next year (and the year
after, and the year after...)

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