Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kenyan bests Nick (5:17 PB) in County championship

A Kenyan? Well, it’s mostly true, if profiling is allowed in a Palm Beach County middle-school track meet. I mean, the kid with the #1 seed and a 5:13 qualifying time had the look and long leggy stride of every winner wearing the wreath after Boston for two decades. It was Nick’s biggest fear. “Please, no Kenyans at the start.” But sure enough, there he was, in the field of 16, lining up one place away from Nick. Still, the Kenyan’s time was not insurmountable, so Nick’s strategy was to tuck in on the guy and not let him run away—then leg it out with him in the last quarter. It was a do-or-die tactic – but also Nick’s last race ever, why not? At the second turn, the Kenyan breaks away from the pack and Nick goes with him, breathing down his heels and it looks like a two-man race all the way. You could tell it was a very fast pace, but Nick hung with him, hair-flying, my Asics going faster than they’d ever gone…..until somewhere in that third quarter, Nick finally began to lose his grip – a space yawned opened, and Nick sloooowly dropped back toward the pack. The Kenyan surged. He opened up a huge gap on the field and finished with a remarkable 5:02. Nick, meanwhile, turned the last corner with 100 yards to go, still in second place, with the field right behind him now. Kick or no kick was the question? Answer: No kick. His legs were shot. Two guys passed him in the 30 yard stretch, and another clipped him at the finish line. Nick finished at 5:17. A personal best. Fourth place. No banner in the Omni gym, but he achieved his goal for the day, he said. “The girl miler winner ran 5:22. I wanted to beat her.” So there you go – the modern runner’s credo: If you can’t take out the Kenyans, take out the women.

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