Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Mon, 9 Feb 2004 13:56:46 -0500

Heading Home


The recent demise of my Runner's World column didn't come as a shock to me. It felt more like a lingering death in the family -- sad when it finally came, to be sure, but also bringing some relief that the waiting for the inevitable was over.

The door closing at RW allowed another to open right away. But I couldn't say where that was until the last column ran (in the March issue) and the last check cleared.

Now I can tell you that Marathon & Beyond magazine will be my new home. Rich Benyo and Jan Seeley, M&B's editor and publisher, will hand me their "On the Road" column after current columnist Barry Lewis's term expires in midyear.

This truly feels like a homecoming since it brings me back together with Rich. We've never been too far apart since first meeting in 1977.

On mutual friend Hal Higdon's recommendation, Rich came for a job interview at Runner's World. I helped hire him as my future replacement editor, where he served a term exactly the same length as mine had been.

When he bailed out at RW after seven hectic years, Rich became co-director of the Napa Valley Marathon. He invited me there as a speaker in the early 1990s and has kept the invitations coming ever since.

We worked longest and most closely (if 500 miles apart and by e-mail is "close") on the biggest book either of us has written. We wouldn't or couldn't have done it alone, but together we produced the Running Encyclopedia.

We know we team up well. Now, finally, we'll get the chance to do that again with a magazine.

I'll enjoy just as much working with publisher Jan Seeley. We don't have a Benyo-length connection, but still a long and good one.

Jan served as an editor at Human Kinetics when I first hooked up with that Champaign, Illinois, company as an author about 10 years ago. Later she co-edited, with husband Joe Seeley, the RRCA magazine FootNotes during its very best years.

She made me feel part of the M&B family even when I wasn't. Our best "reunion" came last summer at the first Dick Beardsley Marathon Camp in Minnesota.

The move to Marathon & Beyond feels like a homecoming in another way. M&B reads like the old Runner's World.

My daughter Sarah reminded recently me how far today's RW is from the earlier model. A co-worker of hers passed along two copies from 1976, which she read and then gave to me.

Those magazines were more about running itself than about general fitness. The stories were longer and meatier, giving readers more credit for knowledge and experience.

Marathon & Beyond knows we had something good going then, and still honors it. I think of M&B as the "New Yorker of running magazines," where Rich and Jan let the writers write in their own ways and at whatever length the subject requires. The writing is deeper and purer here than anywhere short of a book.

The question that Marathon & Beyond readers are justified in asking is how well I can speak to their interests. What are my credentials, not as a writer but as a runner?

They run marathons and beyond. Do I?

Well, no, not lately. My life as a marathoner sputtered to a halt four years ago after four dozen finishes spread over four decades. My life as an ultrarunner never really got started, as I dropped out more often than finished those few races (all run by 1971).

But I justify my new position through a broader definition of "beyond." It doesn't just mean "longer than."

"Beyond" includes runs other than marathons and ultras, the shorter training and racing that isn't devalued by the long. "Beyond" includes what happens after the long races are finished, when the knowledge of and respect for marathoning and ultrarunning don't end at the final finish line.

There are no ex-marathoners or ex-ultrarunners. Once you join the club, you never really leave.

(If you aren't already familiar with Marathon & Beyond, you can start getting acquainted at . Any new subscriber who mentions this news will have one extra issue added to that subscription. Refer to me in the "Comment" field.)


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