The 45th Falmouth Road Race is August 20 and I’ll be there for the 43rd time. My first was 1975 when I was a young Cape Cod Times reporter and Olympic champion Frank Shorter was running. Since then, I’ve spent 41 consecutive August Sunday mornings in Woods Hole. Neither family affairs, hurricanes or hangovers have kept me from reaching the Heights. And so, seven memories for seven miles:
In 1978, Alberto Salazar collapsed at the finish and nearly died. His condition was so severe he was administered last rites. He recovered, and returned to win in 1981 and 1982.
In 1983, Joseph Nzau became the first Kenyan champion. In 1997 he dropped out along the course and tried to hitch a ride from the pace car, which didn’t stop.
I was running in 1980, when a rugged, bald man wearing sweatpants and construction boots passed me. It turned out to be middleweight boxing champion Marvin Hagler.
In 1992, Lynn Jennings won the women’s race a few days after winning a bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics. She let me hold the medal, which was very cool.
It wasn’t so cool in 1991 when a tire sheared off the press truck and bounced dangerously down the road toward race leader Steve Kogo. He dodged the runaway rubber and went on to win.
Falmouth’s 2012 race was out of this world. NASA astronaut Suni Williamson ran the race tethered to a treadmill aboard the International Space Station.
Mark Curp’s victory in 1988 led a 1-2-3 American sweep. No U.S. runner has won the men’s race since.