Posted by: Joe English | December 20, 2007

2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Bad

This is part III of my series, 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The good, the bad and the ugly.
Part I: The Good
Part II: The Bad (this article)
Part III: The Ugly

As I continue with my look back at the 2007 Year in Marathon Running, I now move on “the bad”. These are the moments that gave us a little trouble and made us think a negative thought or two, but not those that rise to the level of being really ugly. We’ll get to those tomorrow. I’m an overwhelmingly positive person, but in fairness this year its share of bad and ugly to go along with all of the great moments. Now let’s continue our walk down memory lane to some more of 2007’s big moments.

2007 Marathon Year in Review
Part II: The bad

A Nor’easter in Boston
Two days before the Boston Marathon I published a story about a press conference by Boston Marathon officials in which they stated affirmatively that the 2007 Boston Marathon was not going to be cancelled. For a couple of days there, even the most diehard of marathon runners were wondering if it was a good idea to run the marathon on Patriot’s Day 2007. The weather was a near 100-year storm: freezing cold, pouring rain, and driving winds.

Boston Marathon officials should be commended for taking a bad situation and trying their hardest to make sure that no major disasters struck. In fact, the weather improved a bit by race time, but that’s not saying much. One of the most memorable moments for me this year was watching the elite women runners having to lean into the cross-winds each time the came out of the shadow of a building to go across an intersection.

For sure the weather was not comfortable, but the runners came prepared and the hardy folk of Boston managed to pull one out in some bad, bad, conditions.

Side-note: sometimes when you have to go, you have to go. It was another not so good moment when one of my personal heroines Deena Kastor had to drop off the Boston Marathon course to answer the call of nature. She still managed to finish 5th and become the US Women’s National Marathon Champion.

Illness and injury at the Ironman World Championships
2007 was just sort of a cursed year for many of the professionals at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Before the race began, 2005 champion Faris Al-sultan dropped out due to a case of the flu that had apparently been going around the pro-triathlete ranks. Desiree Ficker ended up suffering a lack-luster performance in the aftermath of the same bug. Michellie Jones reported having a perforated eardrum from an accident she suffered in training.

And out on the race course, the leaders seemed to be having a lot of trouble too. First it was Natascha Badmann who crashed on her bike, after hitting a cone. She re-mounted her ride and continued, but had to pull out of the race later. On the men’s side it was Normann Stadler first that was throwing up while riding and would have to drop out. New Zealand’s Cameron Brown dropped out too, reporting that he was having difficulties after being sick with a virus too.

So while there were some great performances at the 2007 Ironman World Championships, it’s probably one that a lot of people would prefer to forget.

Foot in mouth disease
Every once in awhile someone says something that really irks people. I’ve done it myself from time-to-time. Back in August the New York Times published an article quoting Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners club as saying something that got a lot of people up in arms. The article was about why older women runners do better than younger ones.

From the New York Times:
Mary Wittenberg, president of New York Road Runners, thinks part of the answer is that most female runners shortchange themselves. Look at them before races she said. Men warm up and do strides, short runs to prepare to take off at the starting line. A lot of women hang back, often because they are embarrassed to be out there with the men, acting like determined athletes, Ms. Wittenberg said.

They are too inhibited to put their full passion out there,” she said. “They are almost afraid to be serious about a sport. They think that if they’re not the best, they shouldn’t care so much.”

I don’t know if there is much more that needs to be said other than that this one didn’t sit well with many of the women runners that I heard from. Sorry Mary, but although I’m sure you meant to say something good, a lot of female athletes took issue with you on this one.

Turn-over at the Olympic level
The US Men’s Olympic Trials were an up and down day for marathon runners. On the one hand, we had the astonishing performance of the winner, Ryan Hall, who set a new record and handily trounced the competition. On the other hand, we had the very sad news of Ryan Shay’s death in the race. But between those two extremes, there was another more subtle story: the complete turn-over in our representation to the next Olympics from the last. Neither 2004 Silver medalist Meb Keflezighi or 2004 Olympian Dan Browne made the cut for the 2008 team.

On the one hand, this could signal that the competition in US running has become even that much more intense, which is a really good thing. But on the other hand, the down-side to a complete turn-over in the squad is that we won’t be sending back any of the experienced athletes that went to the Olympic Marathon last time. This is a close call. Personally, my glass-is-half-full personality thinks that the new crop of runners looks very promising and I hope we have a great showing in the Olympics next summer.

Hot weather hits London, Paris and other European races
My last bit of not-so-good news this year was the heat-wave that hit Europe in April. The London Marathon, the Paris Marathon and a number of other races were all run under very hot conditions. We didn’t see any major disasters there, as we did in some other races, but the early heat did throw a chink into the plans for a lot of early-season runners in Europe.

So that’s my look back at the not-so-stellar moments of 2007. Next up? You guessed it, the truly ugly moments of 2007. And there were, unfortunately, a bunch of those.

Related articles:
Boston Marathon 2007: A wild day in Boston

McCormack and Wellington win at Ironman World Championships

Commentary: Ladies are you a bunch of sissies?

Hall wins US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
for Running Advice and News (



  1. […] Advice & News from Joe English 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Ugly2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Bad2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Good2007 Product of the Year Award: Nuun active hydrationRaces: […]

  2. […] Advice & News from Joe English 2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Ugly2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Bad2007 Marathon Year in Review: The Good2007 Product of the Year Award: Nuun active hydrationRaces: […]

  3. […] readers of my columns, will recall my year-end recap of marathon running listing out the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of marathon running in 2007: I think we may have our first entrant to the Ugly list […]

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