Seattle(ish) Running History Project.
Like every other runner - especially every trail/ultra/barefoot runner - my mountain shuffling career has been influenced immensely by Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, a book which changed everyone's life who ever read it, and is single-handedly responsible for millions of strained Achilles tendons and the sudden manifestation of a million dorks in toe shoes at races and parks across the country. (From here out I'll call them Born-to-Runners.) I personally listened to the book on my iPod while I was training for my first road marathon, and became convinced that I need to spend more time running around in the woods with no shirt on. I almost definitely wouldn't be planning my first trail ultra in a month if I hadn't read that book.
The book (kind of, but I didn't think as much as everyone says) champions barefoot and trail running, but more importantly for me, it helped me to realize that my town - and my neighborhood even - has been a historically awesome runner's mecca. He's since moved to Boulder, but when the book was written, one of the heroes of the story, Scott Jurek, was, like me, a Capitol Hill-Seattle hipster, along with running like a billion miles at 5:45 mile pace. Barefoot Ted McDonald, the maybe a little wacko popularizer of barefoot running who also featured in the book, is also a neighborhood guy now - I see him running at Volunteer Park from time to time, and he's started a local business, Luna Sandals, which sells his own version of the oft-mispronounced Huaraches that the Tarahumara run around the desert in. (You won't catch me dead in toe shoes, but someday soon I'm seriously going to invest in some of these - they're the only thing I can find that are more obnoxiously Born-To-Runnery and they'll be great for Discovery Park in the Summer). After finding this out, I started looking into it, and realized that Seattle has a pretty incredible running history, and that I actually keep unknowingly running into people who are awesome. Fleet Feet, the place where where Angel and I bought our first (and all subsequent) running shoes is a sort of mecca of its own - Jurek used to give clinics there when it was the Seattle Running Company, and the super nice, super helpful guy who owns it now, Brian Morrison, had (for my money) the most epic disqualification in ultra running history literally yards from winning the Western States 100. (See video below.) Uli Steidl is one of the best all-around runners in the country in his age group, and he's destroyed me in road races a couple of times now. (Most recently yesterday - I met him briefly at the Mercer Island Half-Marathon. I ran a 1:44. I asked how his race went: "Pretty good. I ran a 1:08." Also, he won by a couple of minutes against a bunch of racers 10-20 years younger than him.) Van Phan, who organizes one of the marathons we did in December, is mildly famous for running at least a marathon every weekend, and often more. Right now she's busy planning WA's first 200 mile race.
After finding all of this out, I've dug a little more deeply into the internet's collective memory, and it turns out that Seattle has a pretty amazing running community now, and an equally amazing history. Somehow though, from what I can tell, there's no single place you can go online to get an overview of that history. I like having a sense of who the inspiring people are around me, and who we owe for all of the great things we have now, so intrepid blogger that I am, I've decided to start a little project over the next couple of months, compiling important and interesting stories, personal profiles and links from (mostly western) WA's running history and community, to create a central place where people can come to get a sense of where things came from and what the community looks like now.
It'll take me awhile, because I can't write often because of nursing school, but I have a bunch of ideas that I've collected over the last few months that I hope to turn into a series of posts. If you have anything or anyone you think should be added to this list, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or write it up, I'll post it, and give you credit.
Stories to Tell
Seattle Running Club History
History of the Chuckanut 50k
Scott and Liz McCoubrey
The development of the White River 50 mile race.
Seattle Marathon History
Brian Morrison's Epic Western States DQ
People to Profile
The original NW Ultrarunner, and maybe the best: Eddie Gardner
Trisha and Uli Steidl
Oliver Bear Don't Walk
Barefoot Ted McDonald
To whet your appetite, here's video of Brian Morrison almost winning the Western States - arguably the most important 100 mile race in the country.