I was on the phone with a Nike representative. They were flying me out to San Francisco for a “global running summit,” to preview their Spring 2010 running collection, and the event coincided with the Nike Women’s Marathon, the largest women’s race in the world. Would I like to run the half or full while I was there?
“Um, I’m a guy?” I asked, bewildered. Turns out that the race is open to all genders, and that a couple thousand of the 20,000 or so runners are guys, so I figured I’d go ahead and do the half. “The course is really beautiful,” she told me, referring to the San Francisco scenery.
At the summit, Olympian Kara Goucher, who’s America’s great hope for the women’s marathon at London 2012, appeared along with Beijing gold-medalist and Chicago’s record-setting champ, Sammy Wanjiru. Goucher, whose gentle charisma and blazing speed has made her the new sweetheart of the running set, was asked about her next race. She responded she’s on “a hiatus” and that she and her husband were “trying to start a family,” after which she’d return to racing in preparation for the Olympics.
That, more than anything else over the weekend, drove home the spirit underlying a women’s marathon: no male racer in the prime of his career has to make room in his training routine for considerations like pregnancy. Men like Wanjiru can focus on just one thing which, in his case, is his mission to break the world’s record. Continue reading