The best of The Sunday Read: 2012

Looking back over 2012’s Sunday Reads, some dominant themes quickly emerge: minimal and barefoot running, the tragic death of ultrarunner Micah True, anything and everything to do with marathons and, of course, Paul Ryan!

What a year: in footwear, less was more; Boston roasted in the heat, while superstorm Sandy cancelled the New York City Marathon; Paul Ryan made a name for himself as perhaps the most notorious runner since Rosie Ruiz; some guy named Scott Jurek put ultrarunning on the map and made veganism positively trendy; and a Texan named Lance Armstrong was told he’s no longer welcome at major marathons.

Runners named Oscar Pistorious and Usain Bolt dazzled at the Olympics, among the many memorable moments from the London 2012 Summer Games.

Forty-year-old Dane Jesper Olsen rolled into Newfoundland in late July, having run 40,000 miles and the equivalent of a marathon every day since he set out on his World II Run in Norway in 2008. Olsen now holds the record for the world’s longest run.

But Olsen’s got nothing on Ultramarathoner Ian Sharman from Bend, Oregon, who can boast of having the Guinness World Record for having run the fastest marathon – wait for it – dressed as Elvis. Sharman completed the Napa Valley Marathon in March 2012 in a time of 2:40:53. He was seventh overall, but Sharman sure showed them who’s the King. He’s also run dressed as Santa and as a gladiator.

Then came Keith Levasseur, who took minimalist shoes to a new height. He ran a 2:46 marathon at Baltimore – in flip-flops. He’s claiming the world record for doing such a feat, although a reader in the Runner’s World forum disputes that, claiming an Australian ran a 2:43 in Canberra in 2011.  The article focused on the challenges Levasseur faced running in his ridiculous footwear, but never addressed why Levasseur would want to run a marathon in flip-flops in the first place

In among all the scholarly studies examining such issues as cardiac arrest in marathoners came the surprising news of hitherto unheard of syndromes such as “runners face” and “deadbutt syndrome,” thanks to a vigilant lifestyle writer at the Huffington Post.

Dominating everything were the marathons: runners ran them everywhere: the South Pole and the North Pole; Prince Edward Island Marathon put an age restriction in place after a nine-year-old ran the 26.2 there in 2011; humans lost to horses yet again in the annual Welsh Man Versus Horse Marathon; and at the Edinburgh Marathon runners crossed the finish line to receive medals that looked like penises.

In a story titled “Phallic medal stuns Edinburgh Marathon runners, The Edinburgh Evening News described the unfortunate award as “a tacky souvenir from a raucous hen party.” Apparently, the medal became an instant hit on Facebook and Twitter with many of the 23,000 race participants posing in suggestive ways with their medal.

Race organizers took it all in stride. Marathon director Neil Kilgour told the paper that “the design brief for the medal ‘included detailed measurements,’…but no-one had noticed the potential for embarrassment. ” Certainly, the uniquely shaped award gave runners the opportunity as they finished the race and had the medal placed around their necks to tell volunteers: “Well hung!”

Oh, there was pretty more, but let’s leave it at that…uh, happy note.

Happy (but not like an Edinburgh Marathon medal) New Year to Sub-three readers everywhere. Thank you all for reading. I’ll try and keep you equally entertained and informed in 2013.

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About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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