Breaking News and Feature Writing with Liam Boylan-Pett, Jonathan Gault and Erin Strout | The Magic Boost
LetsRun.com’s Jonathan Gault, Women’s Running’s Erin Strout and Løpe Magazine’s Liam Boylan-Pett on breaking news and featuring writing
LetsRun.com’s Jonathan Gault, Women’s Running’s Erin Strout and Løpe Magazine’s Liam Boylan-Pett on breaking news and featuring writing
We’re looking for some help in producing and releasing the CITIUS MAG Podcast with a part-time podcast producer role.
College football isn’t its usual spectacle this year, and it maybe it shouldn’t be held at all, but it goes on. So does as much of its tradition as possible, including rivalry games. Some have great names: The Holy War (BYU vs Utah), The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (Florida vs Georgia), The Backyard Brawl (Pittsburgh vs West Virginia), Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate (Georgia vs Georgia Tech), Bedlam (Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State), and my personal favorite, The Soul Bowl (Alcorn State vs Jackson State). Some have underwhelming names; The Battle of I-75 sounds more like a terrible commute than intense athletic competition. I’m here to fix that.
On Wednesday, November 4, the Bowling Green – Toledo rivalry will be renewed with its 85th football game. To celebrate this I will run from Doyt Perry Stadium, the home of the BG Falcons, to the Glass Bowl, the home of the UT Rockets. The course is 26.2 miles and the run will be known as The Marathon Of Hate.
If you’re a runner you won’t ask why I’m running 26.2 miles. You know there isn’t any particularly good reason other than that I want to. But why am I so invested in this rivalry? Now that’s a much better question.
First of all, BG versus Toledo is one of the best college sports rivalries in America, and possibly the best among the so-called “mid-major” universities. Ken Rappoport and Barry Wilner’s Football Feuds: The Greatest College Football Rivalries lists it as the #25 college football rivalry. Amazingly enough, the 84 games played over 100 years have resulted in 40 wins for BG, 40 for Toledo, and 4 ties. Last year the Falcons were 27-point underdogs but somehow broke a 9-year losing streak and pulled off the win.
More importantly, I competed for Bowling Green in six dual meets against Toledo, three in cross country and three in outdoor track. While my efforts never impacted the final score, we never lost in any of those six meets.
I now live and work in near the University of Toledo, which is also where I grew up. My parents and eldest brother are UT graduates, while I and my other brother earned our degrees at BGSU. I am the PA announcer for all home track and cross country meets at both universities. In short, the rivalry has always been a big part of my personal and professional life.
It used to be. More on that later. These days it’s simmered down quite a bit. Part of that is because it’s overshadowed by the more intense Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, which is somewhat evenly split in northwest Ohio.
Another reason it’s not so antagonistic any more is because of the post-WWII expansion of the educated middle class, where many workplaces are composed almost entirely of college graduates. For example, I’m a high school teacher and obviously all of our teaching and administrative staff have degrees, and most of us earned them at either Bowling Green or Toledo. That’s the norm in this area for the kind of mid-level professionals that G5 universities churn out by the thousand: teachers, nurses, office drones, and the like. So while you can have fun with the rivalry, you still have to remain civil.
So why call it “hate”? It’s partly meant in jest, but a better explanation comes from Bill Simmons. Eleven years ago, when he was a blogger for ESPN, he coined the term sports hate. He used it to describe individuals rather than teams, but the idea translates perfectly to college rivalries.
If you’re not familiar with the term, “sports hate” is an underrated part of fandom. Everyone has guys they don’t like, and more importantly, guys they enjoy not liking. The reasons are unique to us. There doesn’t have to be anything rational about it. Sports hate can be triggered by one incident, one slight, one game gone wrong, anything.
If you read my basketball book, you might remember me making roughly 500 jokes about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was my least favorite athlete of all time. I loved rooting against him. Everything he did bothered me: every expression, his goggles, the way officials constantly bailed him out, even the monotony of his skyhook — and his Lakers uniform made me sports-hate him even more. When he announced his battle with leukemia this week, you know what happened? I felt terrible for him and hoped he would recover soon. I may have disliked him as a player, but still, my life as a sports fan was always more interesting with Kareem in it. Again, there’s a difference between real hate and sports hate.
Everyone involved knows there’s no real hate in this rivalry, but we all also know winning it can make or break a whole season. Paraphrasing Simmons, our lives as sports fans are more interesting with our rivals as a thorn in our sides.
This is a bigger football rivalry than you realize. BG won the 1959 college division national championship, led by Bernie Casey, future NFL All-Pro and star of such films as Brian’s Song and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. From 1968 to 1970 Toledo won 35 consecutive games, led by quarterback Chuck Ealey, a future CFL championship MVP. Coaches who have been involved include Bo Schembechler, Urban Meyer, both Jim and John Harbaugh, and Nick Saban.
There is so much more to this rivalry than football. The first athletic clash between the two universities was in a basketball game on January 27, 1915. The teams have virtually always gone head-to-head in every varsity sport offered by both universities. The last before both campuses shut down in March was a women’s swimming & diving dual on February 8.
Still, football and men’s basketball get the lion’s share of attention. In 1924 Bowling Green officials accused Toledo of having a ringer on their football squad in captain Gilbert Stick since he also played for a local semi-pro team, but conference rules (the long-defunct Northwest Ohio Intercollegiate Athletic Association) did not bar such arrangements and the protest was overruled. In 1934 an on-field brawl after Toledo’s 63-0 drubbing led the two universities to sever athletic ties for fourteen years.
The rivalry returned in 1948, first on the basketball court. A traveling trophy, rare in basketball, was introduced: a peace pipe. Representatives from the two universities ceremonially smoked it at halftime. On the football field the peace didn’t last; the 1951 game was marred by dirty play and concluded with a seven-minute melee including both squads and about a hundred fans, and Toledo coach Don Greenwood resigned the following day.
Records seem to be hazy on exactly when, but the peace pipe was stolen from Toledo athletic offices sometime in the 1970s (of course a pipe went missing in the 70s). In 1980 a miniature replica was placed atop a traveling trophy for the football rivalry, which was retired in 2011 as part of the NCAA’s move away from inappropriate Native American symbols.
And that leads us to the current Battle of I-75 trophy, a bland and boring knicknack sponsored by a local Kia dealership. Yuck. No, it needs to be known as the MARATHON OF HATE!
26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers, from one stadium to the other. Starting in Bowling Green it parallels I-75 and traverses flat farmland, a reconstructed War of 1812 fort, the Maumee River, and suburban and urban landscapes before arriving at the University of Toledo. An interactive map is available here.
There will be more about this event in coming weeks, including a podcast or two. Stayed tuned, true believers!
Anytime between September 19th and the 27th, go for a hike or run to raise money for HBCUs Outside’s #BlackToTheTrails5K.
Hundreds of New York City runners gathered at the East River for a protest run against racial injustice and police brutality in America.
We’re angry. We’re in pain. We don’t have all the answers. What we do know is that we can proceed and start searching for a solution with love, listening, compassion and service. That’s what we have done and what everyone should intend to do.
Friday would’ve been Ahmaud’s birthday. Run 2.23 miles with #IRunWithMaud and consider signing the petition for justice.
A question for running fans ahead of the the Michael Jordan documentary coming out: What track and field film or documentary would you want to see made if you gave hollywood producers an unlimited budget? It can be multiple parts.
We’ve got time spent inside, at home, to just think and feel and be. It seems like a curse that I’m trying very hard to turn into a blessing.
Jenny Donnelly delivers a play-by-play account of one of the best days of her life at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
It’s just how the NYC running community works- someone knows someone who’s friends with someone, and now you’re friends that run together.
A brief training update with less than six weeks to go until the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
David Melly reflects on his marathon debut where he went after the 2:19 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier.
It has 16 years since I’ve run a marathon but something called me back to racing a half marathon in 2019.
For a marathon rookie, here are some of the best and worst things about training experienced thus far.
Join us for a LIVE recording of the CITIUS MAG Podcast with Moh Ahmed, Ryan Hill and Evan Jager of the Bowerman Track Club.
A look behind Stephen Kersh’s seventh-place finish in his Western States Endurance Run debut.
Meet the photographer responsible for many shots of the NN Running Team, Eliud Kipchoge and the world’s best runners.
Meet these inspiring women with their eyes on running 340-miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in a record-setting time.
Ryan Sterner has decided to run a marathon. Paul Snyder has decided to join him in this journey. Let’s dive into their training.
Reflecting on my 21-minute personal best from the 2019 Tokyo Marathon.
It was President’s Day in San Diego and a few of America’s best distance runners gathered to run a fast 10K.
Editor’s Note: Eric is one of Jim Walmsley’s training partners with the Coconino Cowboys. OK. Now that we disclosed that, here are his thoughts.
Jim Walmsley has recently been the recipient of more vitriol than any other runner. The hatred spewed in places like LetsRun and Twitter would leave you to believe, if you didn’t know any better, that Walmsley had taken everyone’s mother out for a nice seafood dinner and never called her again. I’ve never seen a runner’s success create such giant geysers of boiling bile. The nay-sayers might say he deserves it and, granted, they might have a point. After all, he comes off as more confident than might be warranted—maybe so confident that it seems cocky. And sure, he’s outspoken about his goals—perhaps to a degree that borders on arrogance. Maybe some people just don’t like the guy, and so that’s why they want to mitigate the extent of his successes or reduce his achievements. (One of my favorite hot-takes from his 64-minute run in Houston? “That just shows that the Olympic “B” Standard is SOFT.” Such a great take.) I’m not here to tell you that you should like Jim Walmsley. You don’t have to like him. But I’m here to suggest that you should respect how he’s accomplished an Olympic Trials qualifier. Because he accomplished the feat in a way that has never been done before.
UltraRunning, the preeminent magazine for the sport of ultrarunning, started an award in 1981 called Ultrarunner of the Year (UROY). A panel of judges will survey ultrarunner performances from the year and then vote to determine who was the best ultrarunner, male and female in North America. It’s a points-based system. Whoever has the most points that year will win the award.
Walmsley has now won the award three straight years (2016-2018). This is not unprecedented: he’s the third male to win three-straight times.
The International Trail-Running Association (ITRA) has a Performance Index that ranks runners, also on a point-based system, on the basis of their performances. For every trail race you run, an algorithm determines how many points your result was worth. Your best results determine your overall ranking in the ITRA Performance Index. It’s a worldwide ranking system.
Walmsley is currently ranked #1 in the world on the ITRA Performance Index. This is not unprecedented: other people, like Kilian Jornet, have owned the #1 world ranking at times.
Walmsley ran at the Air Force Academy and he graduated in 2012. He stopped racing on the track and road after college. Upon leaving college, and before he began racing ultramarathons in 2014, he owned personal bests of 13:52 in the 5K and 29:08 in the 10K. This is not unprecedented. Max King, the current 100K American record holder, has a 5K personal best of 13:56. There are countless other examples in the sport of ultrarunning: people have run very fast times at shorter distances on the track or road before stepping up to the ultramarathon distance. And there, too, are countless examples of people who have straddled both worlds, running very competitive times in both road marathons and trail ultramarathons in the same calendar year, or even the very same month.
For example, Max King had also run a 2:14 marathon years before he set the American 100K record. King ran in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and also won ultramarathons that same year. Magdalena Boulet, a 2008 Olympian with a marathon best of 2:26:22, eventually turned her talents to ultrarunning and won UROY in 2015—the same year she won the Western States 100. Again, there are countless examples over the last several decades, on both the men’s and women’s side, of runners moving on from fast marathons and road times to ultramarathons and trails or continuing their road marathon careers while also running competitive times on the trails. But the opposite is not true.
No one has successfully dominated the sport of ultrarunning and then—and this is the important part—run competitive times on the road. There is no example of that sequence of events in the sport of running, save for one.
Let me be clear about what is being said here. There are many examples of men and women who have raced very, very competitively, and at a very, very high level on the roads or track, at distances from the 3k to the marathon, and then gone on to run very, very competitively and at a very, very high level in ultramarathons and on the trails. The converse is not true.
No one—with one exception—has raced very, very competitively, and at a very, very high level in ultramarathons and on the trails, and then gone on to run very, very competitively and at a very, very high level on the roads. No one has fully dominated the sport of ultrarunning—to the tune of three consecutive UROY awards, a #1 ITRA ranking and a course record at the prestigious Western States 100—and then run 64 minutes flat for the half marathon. Except for Jim Walmsley. (For context, during the last Olympic cycle, there were only 41 men who qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials by running 64 minutes or faster for a half marathon. That’s only about 20 guys, on average, each year.)
This is not to say that Walmsley is on the cusp of making a U.S. Olympic team. He has simply qualified himself for the Olympic Trials. He did so by running the slowest possible half marathon qualifying time. If Vegas were placing odds, his would be abysmal.
There’s no reason to think that Walmsley’s speed or talent have never been seen in the sport of ultrarunning. There’s no reason to think he has the speed or talent to make an Olympic team. But there is very good reason to give him a great deal of respect, for he has accomplished an order of events that the running world had never before seen. Keep in mind that prior to Sunday in Houston, Walmsley hadn’t raced a road half marathon since high school. He hadn’t raced on the track since 2012. He’s still never raced a road marathon. Instead, he terrorized the sport of ultrarunning with complete dominance from the 50K to 100-mile distances. Only then, after he was one of the best ultrarunners in the world, if not the best, for years, did he race a shorter distance on the road and run a competitive time.
To paraphrase a recent tweet from one of my favorite Twitter trolls: You don’t have to cheer on Walmsley for his successes, but if you’re actively cheering against him, you might be a douchebag. To make the point slightly differently in my own words: you don’t have to be impressed by Walmsley’s 64-minute half marathon, but you should care about the way he did it, and you should respect him for it, because it was groundbreaking.
UPDATE: Since publishing the piece on Tuesday, our informed readers have noted at least one person – Ann Trason. The legend’s trajectory in the sport is similar to Walmsley’s. She won Western States 14 times in her career and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on three occasions. The author’s point remains that Jim’s trajectory is very rare, if not unique on the men’s side of the sport. The author welcomes further feedback on Twitter: @goodsenseruns or email us at [email protected].
The USATF Club Cross Country National Championships are for the people who bear themselves to the unforgiving reality of a cross country race.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Noah Droddy (fast) has been a Citius Mag supporter since day one. That’s why when he sent us this blog ahead of CIM, we decided to throw him a bone. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you.
It is 5 AM and I am sound asleep, but the bed I share with Emma is already half
empty. She has had her first cup of coffee, and by now is likely running loops of a
nearby park in the pitch dark. She did it yesterday too. She’ll do it again tomorrow.
Day after day she toils in the still dark. She will finish just in time to shower, eat
quickly, one more cup of coffee and head out the door for a full day teaching at a
Boulder preschool. After school, she will train again. After a brief moment to
decompress and dinner, she’s in bed early to prepare for the same routine
Why? An Olympic Trials qualifier. The gold standard of the post-collegiate athlete.
Emma is an accomplished athlete, having finished 39th at the 2016 Olympic
Marathon Trials, and she has always balanced her training with some amount of
work and school. But this time would be special; the barriers to marathon fitness
were especially high. A full time demanding job, graduate studies, a sore hamstring,
and a needy boyfriend waiting on the couch at home – enough to scare a mere
mortal into adult recreational sports. But not Emma. She chose to do this because it
The California International Marathon has shined a spotlight on the citizen runner.
The runners laying down fast times while holding down full-time jobs. In distance
running, we keep the “blue-collar runner” in the highest esteem. Why? Well,
probably because they are motivated by the love of the sport, and the pursuit of their
absolute limits. Not sustained by dreams of big money or fame, their ambition is
pure. They have done their absolute best in difficult training circumstances, and no
doubt many of their performances will still rank among the best the USA has to
offer. The idea that someone could love something so much and pursue it with such
tenacity and sacrifice in the name of personal satisfaction inspires the imagination.
It forces fans and competitors alike to ask themselves – what am I really capable of?
What do I really want?
Everyone says that just getting to the start line of a marathon is a win in itself.
Surviving the demands of the buildup and showing up healthy enough for a 26.2
mile race is extraordinarily difficult in the best circumstances. I agree with that –
seeing Emma start that marathon will be an emotional moment for me, knowing
what she went through just to get there. But I know she wants more, the start line
will mean less to her. That’s how we’re wired as competitors, and the mission
isn’t over at the start line. So I’ll cheer her on with vigor all the way home. Because
of what this means to her, because of what she means to me, and because of what
runners like her mean to the sport we all love.
So here’s to the blue-collar runner, but specifically to my blue-collar runner. Emma,
you inspire me daily. I strive to emulate your toughness. You have taught me to find
joy in my work when at first glance I can’t see it. You have taught me to appreciate
what I have. Your buildup has made me a better athlete, a better person. May you
and your competitors have the races you all deserve this Sunday. I am tremendously
proud of you no matter what. To the moon.
Scott Fauble has never been the guy everyone talks about, and that’s fine but let’s take notice of him now.
We’re kicking off NYC Marathon Week with a five-mile run and some special prints available from Luke McCambley.
Tim Cummings dedicates this piece to those who struggle dealing with emotions and their identity as a runner.
Deerfoot grew up on an Indian reservation and used his his feet for transportation. A brief history of what happened next.
Kyle Klosinski makes his long-awaited blogging debut for CITIUS MAG and he’s not holding back against Ryan Sterner.
It’s happening again: we are bum-rushing another unsuspecting city for the sake of bringing you just-ok media coverage of a world-class event
Some people enjoy positing how either an ultramarathoner would have fared in the conditions (like Boston) or how Eliud Kipchoge would tackle an ultramarathon
What can the reception to Eliud Kipchoge’s performance in Berlin tell us about the current state of running fandom?
We have decided to send Ryan Sterner to Berlin to cover the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Did we make a mistake?
Jason Suarez captures some of the faces of the elite women before the start of the 2018 5th Avenue Mile in New York City.
CITIUS MAG contributor and photographer R.J. McNichols followed the Brooklyn Track Club at Hood to Coast, where the team finished 13th overall and third in their respective division.
Stephen Kersh presents: On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Runner’s Rights. These are the soon-to-be-agreed-upon tenets that I believe will ultimately lead to a more perfect union within our niche community.