If it wasn’t for sports and news, I probably wouldn’t watch TV anymore. Why bother? Especially with streaming Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, there’s not much of a need for network television. I’m a Netflix freak in particular and love its original programming–House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Portlandia and to a lesser extent, Lillyhammer—as well as some of the BBC-produced series such as The Fall and Happy Valley.
Recently on Netflix, I found another BBC-produced series called The Bletchley Circle. It’s a terrific, seven-part drama (which was shown on PBS) about four women who worked together as codebreakers at Bletchley Park (the famed center of British intelligence and deception) during World War 2. But the series doesn’t take place during the war; instead, it takes place in post-war London in the early 1950s.
What makes The Bletchley Circle so good is its primary characters are the four women who pool their extraordinary intelligence and skills to identify a mass murderer. One of the subplots is how nearly every man on the series—husbands, police inspectors, former British officers—dismisses their efforts and attempts to keep these women in their place as homemakers, waitresses or in some other menial position.
As you might gather, I think it’s great and highly recommend it. I haven’t finished the series yet, but it struck me, as we approach another Boston Marathon, is how these four women were relegated to secondary status, just as American women were as runners for so many years.
In this day and age of immediate marathon sell outs and burgeoning half marathon fields, often comprised of more women than men, it’s worth pondering the fact that women weren’t even allowed to run in marathons until 1972 when the AAU decreed that as long as women didn’t start with or run against the men, they could run. Believe it or not, the 1972 Boston Marathon was the first marathon where women officially ran and five women finished.
Women had run Boston before, starting in 1966 with Bobbi Gibb and in 1967 with Kathrine Switzer, but they were “unofficial.” The Olympics were even worse. Women distance runners had no event until 1984 when in the LA Olympics, a 3000 was added as well as the epic first Olympic women’s marathon, so famously won by Joan Samuelson.
It’s still hard to fathom how women were discriminated against for so long. But in Los Angeles, the four greatest women marathoners of all time (IMHO)–Samuelson, Grete Waitz, Rosa Mota and Ingrid Kristiansen—placed one through four. After LA, all had incredible careers (Mota won the gold medal in Seoul four years later) but what really distinguished these four was their commitment to women’s marathoning and destroying the stereotypes that had plagued women runners and kept their numbers down, just like the women of The Bletchley Circle did in their own way.
The influence of this Gang of Four can’t be overstated. Samuelson, Waitz, Mota and Kristiansen weren’t the pioneers like Gibb, Switzer, Nina Kuscsik and Sara Mae Berman were, but they helped make women’s marathoning/running the sport it has become today.
If you’re a woman who is fortunate enough to run Boston this Patriot’s Day, it would be thinking of the women who made running the marathon possible and later popularized it.
O Think the weather was bad this morning and/or last weekend? It was much worse in the Metroplex where snow and ice forced the Cowtown race officials in Fort Worth to cancel all of its races (5- and 10-K, ultra and marathon) with the exception of Sunday’s half marathon. Cowtown allowed anyone registered in any of the other events to run the half on Sunday and is also offering a a virtual run for anyone who couldn’t do the half. The Cowtown Virtual Run must be completed by March 30 which is also the deadline for completing a form that you did a Virtual Run so you can collect a finishers medal. Other races are offering free entries to displaced Cowtown runners, while some other races are offering discounts. The Dallas Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half on March 22nd offered 200 free spots to Cowtowners, but those were quickly gobbled up.
O Don’t look for the Uptown Classic 10-K to make a return to the 2015-2016 Austin Distance Challenge. Luke’s Locker couldn’t get a suitable venue for it to be held last October and it wasn’t held. Instead, the Run Free Texas 8-K was substituted as the DC opener. But, Rod Newlin of Luke’s, says the Uptown Classic won’t happen this fall either because of the difficulty (and expense) of securing a course at The Domain and the inability to have a downtown course. Newlin wouldn’t speculate on the future of the Uptown Classic, but the earliest it could return, he said, is 2016. Bummer.
O The crappy weather didn’t stop ultramarathoners at last Saturday’s Nueces 50-miler in Rock Springs. Austinites Anthony Jacobs (8:06:04) and Zachary Szablewski (8:06:08) went 1-2 with Lorenzo Sanchez of San Antonio right behind in 8:06:29. Cara Bass of San Antonio was the first woman (seventh overall) in 9:25:31 with Juli Koepke next in 11:08:25 and Adreanna Haley of Austin third in 11:37:41.
O In the 50-K in Rock Springs, women went 1-2. Tracie Akerheim was the overall winner (and first woman, natch) in 4:33:16 with Melanie Fryer second in in 4:49:02. My buddy Kevin Babb was the first guy (third overall) in 4:55:45.
O Austin Bussing, who helps Francie Larrieu with coaching duties at Southwestern and also works at Rogue, made his half marathon debut last weekend at The Woodlands. Bussing finished second in 1:07:27 on a cold morning but was mildly disappointed he didn’t run a little bit faster.
O At the USATF National Indoors Champs in Boston last weekend, Leonel Manzano finished sixth in a slow, tactical mile in 4:04.25. Former UT grad student Kyle Merber was second in the 1000 in 2:22.39 and Kristen Findley of Rogue AC was eighth in the women’s 3000 in 9:56.32. Former UT All American and NCAA champion Marielle Hall was 14th in 10:14.
O Jacob Buhler of San Antonio, a dentist in the U.S. Army, placed third last Saturday at the Phoenix Marathon in 2:28:28.
O In the Houston Rodeo 10-K (and 5-K) last weekend, Kiya Dandena of Houston was the overall winner in 30:44; Mary Davies won the women’s division in 34:53 with Liza Galvan of San Antonio fourth in 37:07 (first masters woman). Former Austinite Sarah Mark was sixth woman in 39:16 and her fiancee Brian Periman was second in the accompanying 5-K in 18:44.
O Zac Ornelas can call himself a national champion. The former Vista Ridge HS (and Michigan) runner won the USATF 50-K road title last weekend in 2:52:18 at Caumsett State Park in Lloyd Harbor, New York. That victory makes Ornelas eligible to be on the USA team which goes to the 50-K Worlds in Doha, Qatar, sometime in early November.
O Will Nation, who won the 3M Half Marathon in January in his very first road race, has been sidelined ever since with a stress reaction in a foot. He’s been cross training , but probably won’t start running for another week or so.
O Ryan Dohner, who was Nation’s high school teammate at Klein Oak HS in Spring and then at UT, is getting over his own stress fracture. Dohner, who has been an All American in track and cross-country, missed several weeks with a stress fracture of his sacrum. This spring will be his final season of track eligibility and expects to make his season debut at the Stanford Invitational in April in the 10,000.
O Congrats to our training friend Natasha Van Der Merwe—a pro triathlete–on her appointment as the Director of Triathlon at the new Austin Aquatics and Sports Academy. They’ll be hosting an open house and sneak preview of the facilities (5513 Southwest Parkway) this Saturday (March 7) from 11-3 p.m. There will be a free strength workout, coached by Chris Lewallen at 11:15, followed by a free workout in the 50-meter pool at noon, directed by six-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen.
O More congrats to Ryan Hess (Ready to Run co-owner) and Pam Witte who are getting married this weekend. He proposed at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego last summer.
O Former Westlake HS runner Ashley Maton, a junior at the University of Oregon, PR’ed in the mile last weekend at an indoor meet in Seattle. Ashley finished second in a mile best of 4:41:02. Her younger brother Matthew, who is the top high school distance runner in Oregon and one of the best in the country, will run for UO in the fall.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Red-Headed Stranger”, the classic by Willie Nelson.
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