Real Life Superheroes, Part 3

Heroes are everywhere – in comic books, movies, and of course my novel.  But real-life superheroes pop up in some pretty surprising places.  Like the running track, or even the basketball court.

Check out this video that’s been making the rounds:

So often these days, sports stories have to do with money, or winning-at-all-costs, or banned substances (yeah, I’m looking at you, Lance Armstrong).

But that’s not the whole story.   Here’s an entire football team of real-life superheroes:

It doesn’t take much to be heroic.  You don’t need X-ray vision, or six-pack abs.  All you need is a little kindness.

Real Life Superheroes, Part 2

Take a look at the runners in these pictures.  Can you tell what makes them all special?

First, there’s America’s Dick Beardsley (on the left):

Dick+Beardsley+and+Inge+Simonsen+finish+the+London+Marathon+together.+Horace+Culter+of+the+Greater+London+council+one+of+the+men+who+made+this+race+possible+watches+on+in+the+background

Up next, Spain’s Fernandez Anaya (in green):

o-FERNANDEZ-ANAYA-570

And finally, Ohio track star Meghan Vogel (blonde hair, on the right):

Meghan Vogel

Any guesses?  Yes, they’re all runners, and yes, they’re crazy fit.  They probably run 100+ miles a week and eat nothing but salads and nuts.  But these incredibly healthy human specimens have something much more interesting – and much more valuable – in common.

You’ve got fifteen seconds to figure it out.  Tick tick tick tick tick…TIME’S UP!

ANSWER: All of these runners are real-life superheroes.  They’re not only fast.  They’re also super kind.

Take Meghan Vogel.  She was competing in her third race of the day.  Ahead of her, a runner crumpled to the ground in the heat.  But instead of dashing past her, she lifted her up, helped her to the finish line, and literally pushed her across the finish line.

Fernandez Anaya (the guy in the green shirt) was equally generous.  He was running second in his race, a ways behind the race leader, Abel Mutai.  As he entered the finishing straight, Fernandez noticed Mutai pull up about 10 metres before the finish line.  Mutai thought he’d crossed the finish line, BUT HE HADN’T!  He still had 30 feet left to go!

Instead of racing past Mutai for the win, Fernandez slowed down and gestured at him to keep running.  He literally helped the OTHER guy win.

Which brings me to the black and white photo of Dick Beardsley at the top.  Dick was running the very first London marathon in 1981.  He and Norway’s Inge Simonsen spent the race battling for first place.  In the finishing stretch, instead of trying to prove who was better than the other, the athletes clasped hands and crossed the finish line together.

How awesome is that?  They acknowledged they were evenly matched, and split the first place prize two ways.

Someone should show these videos to Lance Armstrong.

Running with Borscht

The symptoms are unmistakable.  You’ve forgotten your kids’ names.  The family dog hates your guts.  And you’re getting bad vibes from that person in the kitchen who you suspect you may have married at some point.

I hate to be the one to break the bad news, but you’ve got an advanced case of Runner’s Guilt.  It’s a common affliction at this time of year, what with 20-mile long runs pre-empting our family responsibilities.

Happily, there’s a simple treatment for this scourge.  It’s called THINKING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE FOR A CHANGE!

Here’s what you do.  First, draw up a list of the people in your life who are suffering.  Any kind of ailment will do – a layoff, hip replacement, a bad break-up, etc.  Enter the addresses of these afflicted souls into Google Maps.  Plot a course that equals your training distance, then run!

Note: while it’s important to stop and say hello to each of these afflicted friends, try to avoid prolonged conversations.  Yes, you’re on a charitable mission, but it’s equally important to keep your heart rate elevated.  By all means, give your friends a supportive hug, but don’t stop running for more than two or three minutes.

One other thing – and this part is crucial – you must impart a small gift to each of your friends.

The ideal gift is small and light; something that’s easy to carry during your run.  Gift certificates are perfect.  So are thumb drives full of music.  Packets of heirloom seeds will delight the green thumbs among your friends.

Then again, if you’re feeling especially generous, you can always deliver jars of Russian Cabbage Borscht.

borscht

A cautionary note: 1500 millilitres of Russian Cabbage Borscht weighs just over six pounds.  Three Mason jars full, swaddled in a bath towel and crammed tightly into a running backpack, weigh roughly the same as 8 litres of milk.

How do I know this?  I know this because I delivered that precise volume to a number of friends during a recent 35-mile training run (I’m prepping for a 100-miler).  Sounds insane, I know.  But to my credit, I  planned the run so that I’d unload the first jar fairly early in the run.  That is to say, at mile 19.

“It smells a bit like armpit,” my friend Farhad said, unscrewing the lid and taking a sniff.  (Farhad’s recovering from a nasty case of Shingles.)

“It’s better when you heat it up,” I said.

I’m not really sure what I was thinking with the borscht.  Borscht is a healing food; full of every colourful vegetable known to humankind.  Vanity also played a role, no doubt.  For years, Russian Cabbage Borscht has been my “thing.”  I make it with lots of sour cream and dill.  Blend it until it’s velvet.

Farhad dipped in a finger and took a taste.  “It tastes like dirt.  Really good dirt.”