Sports Zone


I’ve referred to distance runners as ”twigs” when watching athletes file into old Hayward Field. The comment was never derisive, more an observation of the distinctions among athletic body types, because while possessing powerfully athletic bodies with a level of strength and conditioning that is awe-inspiring, distance runners are also very, very, very thin.
Last year, Mary Cain released a video that addressed issues related to the coaching she received and the competitive culture that places stress on the well-being of women.
From body shaming to altered menstrual cycles, bone development, and eating disorders, runners navigate a minefield.
Athletes must make choices of what they are willing to endure. Still, they are susceptible to the motivations of coaches who may lack a balanced perspective on what performance demands.

Meet Mary Slaney
In Eugene, you see many runners on the streets, trails and at the track. Seeing runners, I often make a quick evaluation of their ability, their gait, form, speed, and balance. Sometimes I imagine a future of knee and hip replacements; other times, I just say, ”Whoa, they look good.”
Honestly, I envy any runner ”doing it” for any reason.
One time, along Amazon Parkway, I saw two legs attached directly to a head and moving with the most-perfect running gait I had seen. Looking closer, it was Mary Slaney, the most accomplished American woman runner. I was awestruck.
Slaney won Gold medals in the 1500m and 3000m at the 1983 World Championships and was the world-record holder in the mile, 5000m, and 10,000m. In total, she set 17 world records, including being the first woman to break 4:20 for the mile. She also set 36 U.S. national records at distances ranging from 800m to 10,000m and has held the U.S. record in the mile, 2000m, and 3000m since the early 1980s, and her 1500m record stood for 32 years. In 2003, she was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.
The next time I saw Slaney was in line at the supermarket, and even she could not speed that line.



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