Yesterday I found myself walking behind a jogging Steve Hoag, whose claim to fame was his 2:11:54 second place finish at the 1975 Boston Marathon. I yelled, “Steve…(trying to remember his last name)…Hoag,” and he stopped and turned.
“I know you from somewhere,” he said.
He knew me because I had stopped and chatted with him on other occasions, but, instead of reminding him of this, I said, “I was in your shoe store a few times.”
This seemed to satisfy him. Unlike the other times, he seemed to want to talk, so I asked about Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter, and he said they both were still running, though one had survived cancer and the other had survived numerous injuries. “You know,” he said, “all those miles.”
He had a hunk of snot on his famous mustache, which worked its way up and down as he talked. Unlike his rivals, Steve had always been a working class runner and earned everything he achieved through guts and determination. He was a star at the U, and for a brief period afterward, made a name for himself as an elite runner.
“How many miles are you running now?” I asked.
He made a face.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I withdraw the question.”
“About 20,” he said. “And I run-walk now.”
“So now you know what it was like for the rest of us,” I added.
He ignored my comment. “So are you still running?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “I have a touch of asthma and got fat as you can see.”
“You should start again.”
“Perhaps, I will,” I said. “Encourage me whenever you see me.”
He said he would.
When Steve left, I walked past the beach and thought how much alike we were. His physical skills had deteriorated to the point where there wasn’t much difference between us. Age is a great equalizer, I decided, and started jogging around the lake.
August 19, 2009 Comments Off