As loyal readers of Taking Mulligans know, the disappointing circumstances of my final high school track meet started a thread of endeavors that led me to, more than 30 years later, write an upcoming book and two major features stories for Runners’ World (The Mulligan Mile, Cross Country Romance). I can only imagine where Justin DeLuzio’s final college cross country race will propel him. Other than a cornfield.
In November, he was about a mile into running that race for Gwyneed Mercy University, when a deer blindsided him and knocked him airborne– and into the viral running clip of the year. Click below for ESPN’s coverage of it.
Getting knocked down may win you viral clip of the year. But it’s what’s not on this clip that won him our Mulligan Moment of the Year– getting back up to finish the last 4 miles of the race. And what’s more, it’s a few thoughts he shared in this interview with NPR that resonated most with Taking Mulligans. Listen and you’ll hear some good advice for going forward into 2017. Surprisingly, he’s not the one in the interview that encourages us to get back up when we get knocked down. His advice? No resentment. Be grateful. Be aware.
And for that, Justin DeLuzio, an actuarial science student from Limerick, PA, wins Running’s Mulligan Moment of the Year.
Within the next few weeks, Taking Mulligans will be accepting nominations for Mulligan Moments of the Year. When you make a nomination, you become eligible for one of the grand prizes of priceless value: a lousy poem from me written personally for you.
Running’s Mulligan Moments of the Year recognize the achievements (large and small), observations (grand and flippant) and contributions (tangible and ephemeral) of runners, (famous, infamous, and unknown), that demonstrated the resolve, awareness, good intention and blind luck that occurs when you run like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no yesterday.
In short, someone who took a second chance and made it count. Let us know if you have someone in mind.
Maybe you know a runner who’s overcome some serious obstacle in her life this. Let us know. It could be someone who barely runs. Or someone who is obsessed with running.
Maybe you were inspired by an athlete who achieved a goal, rose to a challenge, put distractions aside or simply showed up and did his job when called upon. Let us know. Maybe it was an Olympian, a weekend runner, or someone on your kid’s cross country team.
Maybe you saw a movie, a race, a show, an election, where someone ran with dignity, grace and the power that comes from putting the past aside and making the best of situation, or making life better or simply more vivid. Let us know.
Just let us know a little bit about who you are nominating and why– via a direct message, email, tweet, retweet, blog comment, FB comment or Instagram post. Skywriting and tracings in the sand will be considered for featuring, but not eligible for prizes.
I’ll be posting some of my own ideas and would love to hear some of yours. All featured entries will be awarded with a personal epic poem dedicated to you, badly written by yours truly, based on your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed. Deadline for entries is December 19, unless you are a member of the electoral college. Then, by all means, take another day.
“David’s victory over Goliath, in the Biblical account, is held to be an anomaly. It was not. Davids win all the time,” according to Malcolm Gladwell in a gobsmacking brilliant New Yorker piece and his New York Times best-seller David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. Gladwell (my fellow Fifth Avenue miler and from this picture, apparently my new best friend) goes on to explain the secret to David’s success, the secret that is employed by a remarkable range of combatants in his work, a from a middle school girls basketball team to Lawrence of Arabia. It’s playing by your rules, not the rules of Goliath.
A couple weekends ago, I was at the Goliath of running: The New York City Marathon. It’s a massive, sprawling love fest of pageantry and logistics on a scale that is almost inconceivable: about 50,000 runners set out across the Verrazano Bridge to take part in a sport that is essentially something you learn by the time you are two years old: running and not falling down.
And in exchange for all the spectacle of running with 49,999 of your closest friends, you receive a credit card bill like the ones being sent to Kerry Close of Money magazine. She added up up how much it cost her to run NYC this year: $1,057.50– and that’s with only $10 in transportation costs and no hotel costs, since she lives right in the metro NY area. Imagine if you had to add a flight and a couple nights of hotel and cab rides to that total.
Which brings us to realization that even that Goliath marathon, broadcast on national television and covered by every major sports network reaching billions of people across the world, can’t beat David. And David is a turkey.
For the single biggest running day of the year isn’t the New York Marathon, or Chicago or Boston. It’s not the Peachtree. All those races have the expos, the promotion, the goodie bags, the headlines and the elite runners. But the biggest event of all is the humble Turkey Trot that is probably taking place in your zip code next weekend. That turkey trot is bigger because it plays by its own rules– local, dedicated and much simpler than a big city marathon. Run and don’t fall down. And yes, if you have to wear a pilgrim’s hat, by all means be Miles Standish proud, congratulate me.
Thanksgiving weekend is now the single largest racing weekend of the calendar year. RunningUSA reports that 901,753 of you finished a Thanksgiving race last year. (Can the Million Mashed Potato March be far off?). Simple, close to home, boiled down to the essence of why many of us run: to enjoy our bodies, the fresh air and the company of others. And perhaps to work up an appetite– or burn off a little of that appetite’s side effects.
RunningInTheUSA.com lists 1,459 Thanksgiving-themed races this month. Find one near you by clicking here.
Runner’s World highlights some of the better known ones here, including the nation’s longest consecutively run Thanksgiving race in Buffalo, NY, started in 1896. That will be held not far from where I’m guessing that alumni and friends of my beloved Notre Dame High School of Batavia, NY will gather for their completely informal, off the beaten path tailgate and turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning this year (see photo below), as always.
Of course, the popularity of the turkey trot has not escaped race organizers, and now there are as many as 13 races that have more than 7,000 finishers, according to RunningUSA. But no worries, even if a Goliath or two emerges from this field, David will always win.
So get out there and run.
Your felt roasted turkey hat is your smooth stone, and your running shoes are your slingshot. Gobble one up.
I wasn’t able to run in this year’s Runner’s World Half & Festival. But since I can see the race from my front door in Historic Bethlehem, PA, I had almost as much fun taking in the scene. As you can see from my photos, it’s a fun and fabulous race filled with just the right amount of crazies. Hope to be running in it with you next year! For more race photos, go to the official RW Half website.
Run is a word that runners take for granted. It’s ours. We own it. We remind everyone around us incessantly with our mileage counts, tights and bulky watches that we are the chosen ones, the runners.
On my first trip to Alaska, I found that we are not alone. Other things run. My plane ran late, and I was feeling a little run down, and my daughter’s nose was running, but my toilet did not. What’s more, even though it does happen to me more than I would care to admit, and is a bit of an occupational hazard for a writer like me, who should really know better, considering how many courses I’ve taken and how many of them I’ve put together over the many years that I have pursued this avocation of mine, which perhaps you share too, it was not my sentences, other than this one, that were running on. (And yes, among writers, that’s a running joke.)
I was in Ketchican, Alaska, and the most popular runners in this town are not people like us. They are the salmon.
Ketchican is self-proclaimed Salmon Capital of the World. And when we visited in mid-July, they were just starting to head back upstream to the place where they were born. Not just to visit for a spaghetti dinner, like I do when I go home to visit my hometown. They were going to drop off some eggs. And die. Or, if they have flair for the dramatic, be eaten by bears or by the waves of bald eagles we saw there day after day. So when I took my scenic run around town and along the salmon creek that yes, runs, in the middle of town, with the hope that this runner would escape that kind of ironic ending to this trip.
So here’s my running wish for you from Alaska: next time you head out for a run , may you run like the salmon, but eat like the eagle.
Here are some lasting images and observations from Days 3 and 4 of the first big-time track meet I’ve ever attended, the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR last weekend.
Practically every event had me on the brink of choking up with emotion, seeing the athletes put so much at stake for one singular chance to compete in Rio. A handful did, and a boatload did not. Curiously, I found myself emotionally going back and forth between the dids and the didnots. For me, that impulse is one I can’t always plan. Who I actually find myself rooting for tells me something that is indiscernible with logic. Only in the moment on the brink do I realize whose story is tugging at me. That happens in life too– I often use that “heart tug” to show me the way through a decision that is not revealing itself to me through analysis.
I hope you find yourself rooting for someone in Rio, when these athletes begin to represent the United States on the track.
As exotic as Peter Allen’s lyrical invitation may be, I am not going to Rio. Day-Jena-Arrow. As close as I’m getting is Eugene, Oregon, home of the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field. I was in TrackTown for last weekend’s events and wanted to share a few images that caught my eye.
Even though I’ve been following track and field intently since the 1972 Olympics, this was my the first major track meet I’d ever attended. In fact, it’s actually the only one I’d ever seen in full other than my own high school meets more than 35 years ago.
From seeing many of the heroes of my day paraded out to wave to the crowd and bestow medals upon this year’s team, to the (literally) ups and downs of competitive racing, to the sheer magnificence of the athletes performing with so much at stake, it was a weekend to remember.
On a day where snow is going to prevent many of us from running, I am left to think back about some of the most memorable runs of 2015.
And while here’s no place I love running more than in New York’s Central Park, I think my favorite NYC run this year was when I was on my way to the park but never got there.
You see, as I headed out of my midtown hotel on a Sunday am in December, I ran smack into something that immediately diverted me from my route to the park.
I mean how could I look away once I saw this?
I don’t get a ton of giddy, happy smiles and leaping tutus in midtown Manhattan, even during the Christmas season. But there they were, a frolicking pack of jolly runners having way too much fun to ignore.
I instantly recognized that my new destination was the journey with these folks
“How far are you guys going?,” I asked one of the women who had the biggest smile of the crowd. “Oh I don’t know,” she said. “We are doing the letters run.”
I had no idea what a letters run was, but she was cute. And cute is cute and fun is fun, so I asked if I could join in and she enthusiastically welcomed me to the club. I thought maybe they were with the post office
As we went on, it seemed less like a delivery route and like the kind of run I often do in my own town. We ran through the streets seemingly at random. We’d go a block, turn, go another block turn, stop, start.
Not exactly a rigorous training run, but more like the kind of playful romp I advocate as the best remedy to bring fun and spontaneity to an otherwise monotonous running routine.
Not only did we keep stopping for group photos…
….. but I was quickly volunteered to be the club photographer.
As it turns out this run was not random at all. In fact, it was an annual ritual of one of New Jersey’s more active running clubs, the Raritan Valley Road Runners.
Our path wasn’t just following the whims of the pack leader, it was a very precise attempt to spell out the initials of the club, RVRR, on the GPS watches of the group.
When a run is more play than work, it is, by definition, a good run. No matter how you spell it, this was a good run.
And I have the smiles to prove it– and Raritan Valley Road Runners to thank for it!
Here’s an assortment of images that struck me at the USATF National Club Cross Country Championship at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. I’m working on some putting together some thoughts on my race, but until then have a peek at what it looked like to be there.