Today marked the 112th running of the Boston Marathon. For the 26th year in a row, a non-American won the famed race. Deriba Merga of Ethiopia emerged as the victor with a time of 2:08:42. American Ryan Hall came in at 3rd with a time of 2:09:40. In the closest women's division finish, Salina Kosgei of Kenya, edged out Dire Tune of Ethiopia by a mere second and 3rd placer Karla Goucher of the US by less than 9 seconds.
There are two reasons why I've decided to write about the Boston Marathon.
First, Grand Rapids is hosting it's 5th Grand Rapids Marathon on October 17 and 18, 2009. The 2009 Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon has seen a 20% increase in participation every year since 2004. The renaissance happening in downtown Grand Rapids with the development of the Medical Mile, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the JW Marriott, the new Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA) and the numerous downtown restaurants and bars, the city is primed to continue to host bigger and better events downtown. It would be quite a coup if Grand Rapids could eventually be one of the better marathon venues in the world. The creation of the West Michigan Sports Commission in 2007 is helping pave the way into making this city into a very marketable sports destination for both professional and amateur events.
Secondly, it has been twenty three years since an American has won the Boston Marathon. Grand Rapid's own, Greg Meyer, won it in 1983 with a time of 2:09:00. It amazes me that only 18 seconds separates Greg Meyer's time in 1983 from Deriba Merga's time today.
On a more personal note, see the picture of the Brooks running shoe above, that's a gift from Mr. Meyer himself (Greg, do notice that I've actually "slightly" worn the shoes). Before you make any assumptions about my running skills, let me stop you there because I hate to run, and even if I did, my chances of beating Greg Meyer's record is the equivalent of Charles Barkley matching up with Tiger Woods to win The Masters. Nada. Greg moved back to Grand Rapids last year take on the Foundation job at Aquinas College. He was formerly at the University of Michigan Foundation in Ann Arbor. Greg is also the poster athlete and organizer for Michigan's largest and most successful running event, the Fifth Third River Bank Run held every year in May.
I actually ran the River Bank Run in 2007 - achieving the two personal goals I set for myself: no stopping and finish my first race(and so far my only) under the alloted time so my name could be officially published in the results. I admit, it was only a 5K and I made the cut-off time by seconds! But, I did it.