The Long Run of Life; Kenyan Distance Running Dominance Debate

June 12, 2008 at 6:43 am Leave a comment

Runner heart beat

Be sure to give yourself 20 minutes to read “No Finish Line” by Alexander Wolff, a Sports Illustrated profile of former marathon world-record holder Alberto Salazar. It’s a fascinating story about a great athlete who, after suffering a heart attack, is forced to come to grips with the fact that “life is the only long run that really matters.”

The opening paragraph paints a vivid picture about the The Agony of Victory:

Death is one of those things Alberto Salazar used to run into. He’d finish a race and all but perish, as likely from fire as from ice. In 1978, at the end of the 7.1-mile Falmouth (Mass.) Road Race, he was read the last rites after collapsing with a body temperature of 108°. After he won the 1982 Boston Marathon, paramedics had to give him six liters of saline solution in an IV drip when his temperature dropped to 88°.

When done reading the SI article, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s blog post about Kenyan runners. Gladwell, citing Salazar’s observations about and experiences with the sport of running, makes a case for “put[ting] the genetic argument about Kenyan running dominance to rest.”

The genetic versus cultural debate does not die, however, as evidence by the string of lively, heated, passionate responses in the comments section of Gladwell’s blog.

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood 


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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