In the run-up (ahem) to the Bolder Boulder 10K on Monday, the Denver Post's John Meyer did an excellent piece on the legends who trained in Boulder during the '70s and '80s, what Boulder was like then, and how it is so very different today. The gist of the piece is that the top runners of yesterday, like Shorter, Plaatjes and Flanagan, all lived together and/or trained together -- much like the Ethiopians and Kenyans do today -- which made them much better than if they would have trained on their own, the way American runners do now. Peep this quote from Flanagan:
"It was kind of like the perfect storm," Flanagan said. "For one reason or another we wound up collecting in Boulder in '74, '75. We all trained together. We all worked hard and played hard."
Flanagan was just "a good club runner" who never made an Olympic team. But a girlfriend who was a marathoner followed him to Boulder, and their daughter is the current U.S. 5,000-meter champion. Shalane Flanagan, a 2004 Olympian, was born in Boulder in 1981.
"I ran 29:06 for 10K and wasn't even the fastest guy on my street," Flanagan said from his home in Massachusetts, where Shalane spent most of her childhood. "None of us knew how good we were. None of us knew how bad we were. We just all thought, 'If he can make the Olympic team, so can I."'
Notice also, in the historic results of the Bolder Boulder, that Frank Shorter ran just about as fast in 1981 as the last two Kenyan and Ethiopian winners. I noticed the same thing with the historic results of the Indianapolis Mini Marathon: Shorter and Rodgers in '77 and '78 ran as fast as this year's Kenyan winner. If Americans could run those times in the '70s, why can't we now?