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Brush with vicarious biking celebrity at the NYC Marathon...(13 posts)

Brush with vicarious biking celebrity at the NYC Marathon...BrianNYC
Nov 3, 2003 12:37 PM
I was watching the Marathon, and this guy and his family come up to watch at the railing next to me. We start talking, turns out his brother is Doug Shapiro, former 7-Eleven rider, 3 Tours de France, etc. Pure old school. We were talking about how "tough" a marathon is (which it is, I'm sure) but that the Tour and other bike races had to be way tougher, and then he started talking about when his brother would come home from the tour and be pure skin and bones.

I thought it was just cool.
Marathoning vs. Cyclingserbski
Nov 3, 2003 2:33 PM
I know that we've been through this debate before but (as a marathoner/ultramarathoner who took up cycling to rehab/prevent injury) I feel the need to stick up for my first love! The use of quotations around the word "tough" in your post (in spite of parenthetical disclaimer) makes me think that you are somewhat trivializing the honest-to-god brutality of the marathon and the training required to compete at the elite level . I imagine that you took a look at the top finishers at NYC and I defy anyone to describe them as anything *but* skin and bones, most of them being built like Roberto Heras or Marco Pantani circa '97. A Grand Tour is absurdly difficult and you will not find me being anything but awestruck at the riders' fitness, toughness and sheer gutsiness but, one must remember, a marathoner is not able to take advantage of any team tactics. Yes, they will allow another competitor to set the pace (sometimes) but there is not the same reliance on drafting/pacelines/protected team leader etc. in marathoning as there is in cycling. The only athletes with higher VO2 max numbers than elite marathoners are elite cross-country skiers while I imagine that pro cyclists are right up there. I still find a 3-hour marathon more *relentless* than a 5-hour century (mind you I have never raced 100-mile road race though, if I did, I would not expect to be in the front, in the wind, for the whole thing). My humble guess is that riding a Spring Classic/Tour Stage at the front *for the whole distance* would be akin to an elite's effort in a major marathon (the fact that IronMan prohibits drafting seems to support this). Granted, one of Laurent Jalabert's 100K-plus breakaways or Tyler Hamilton's stage win this year are marathon comparable and the fact that they can ride competitively the following day shows their fortitude, however, as Bob Roll and Paul Sherwin continuously point out, one must mete out one's energy so that it lasts the full 3-weeks. Let me just finish by stating that I have the UTMOST RESPECT for pro (and all) cyclists and that, in spite of the shared endurance aspect of marathoning and road racing, the comparison between the two is still somewhat "apples and oranges (or pears!)"...
Marathoning vs. Cyclingblakester
Nov 3, 2003 6:15 PM
Actually, as surveyed at the most recent olympics, Rowers have a higher VO2 max than cyclists, skiiers, runners, or anyone. Traditionally it has been kind of a draw between Rowers and skiiers.
It's all about pace..........Len J
Nov 3, 2003 3:36 PM
and a world class marathon is every bit as grueling, and maybe more grueling, that a major tour. Remember though that the pace an elite marathoner is running is with the full knowledge that he doesn't have to run another one the next day. (Similar to how elite tour riders, pick their maximum effort spots. Even if Lance accelerates on Alpe d'uez, it is only for a 30 minute period (not to minimize it, but if he did it for a full two hours, he wouldn't be riding the next day))

In a world class marathon, the elite runner is leaving everything on the course. There is no next day to consider, there is no resting in the pelton.

An elite runner can, at max, run 3 competitive marathons a year. An elite runner cannot go out and run a marathon (at any pace) the next day, (nor even the next week).

The amount of abuse that an elite runner puts his body through during that slightly over 2 hours is hard to describe, it's beyond words. Running world class times as a teenager (when my body recovered faster than ever), I still had trouble walking the next day (let alone running).

There is no rest in a marathon. Downhill beats you up more than uphills. While drafting does help in a headwind, it's benefit (in speed & effort) is nowhere near what it is on a bike.

Again, if the Tour was a one day mountainous event, the pace would be quicker, and the abuse would all be in one day.

The effect that is hard to compare between the two is the effect of the pounding.

Both efforts, at a world class level are marvelous examples of what the limits of the human body are. Neither should be minimized. People performing at this level are at the far end of the human bell curve, in either sport.

I admire both participants, I just don't believe that one is tougher than the other.


PS. Re, Shapiro, I suspect that Domestique's probably have a harder physical time at a tour than the team leaders. Tyler hamilton talks about when he was on Postal, hauling water back from the team car up to Lance on every major climb of the tour. They may "coast" in on the mountain stages, but they may take more of a physical beating than the leader who was tucked in most of the day, had water brought to him, and then gives an all out effort for the last 45 minutes.
You're Spot On...serbski
Nov 3, 2003 3:46 PM
with your comments regarding the two sports. Obviously, you speak from experience. In the Freaks of Nature category, in '01 or '02, a Russian woman in her 40's (the name escapes me) won the Houston Motorola Marathon and, either one or two weeks later, trounced a Rumanian almost half her age to win the Los Angeles Marathon. Pretty scary...
Freak of nature indeed.................Len J
Nov 3, 2003 4:17 PM
although, I would guess that the times in the two races were not "world class". The difference between a 2:30 marathon and a 2:43 marathon is 30 seconds a mile, which is hugh in terms of effort. I would expect that the Houston race was run at a pace that was significantly slower than LA. It is still pretty amazing, but I'd bet that if she ran her limit in the first race, she wouldn't have finished the second.

If she's a Russian in her '40's in o1, she would have been in her 20's in the 80's, when the Eastern block was notorious for chemical performance alteration, I wonder if the "freak of nature" was created in a lab? If not, she is amazing.

To me, the "freak of nature" award will always go to Emil Zatopek, for winning the Olympic 5,000 meter, 10,000 meter and marathon at the 1952 olympics within 6 days, (2 weeks if you count the 3 qualifing races for each of the 5 & 10K). He ran 7 world class races in less than 14 days, ending with blowing the field away in the Marathon. (He is quoted as turning to the field on the Marathon starting line (after having already won the 5K & 10K) and saying "Men, today we die a little!")

Saw in the news yesterdaySpecialTater
Nov 3, 2003 4:02 PM
that two guys ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 6 continents. I think it was also discussed here. Amazing feat, but hurts your argument a little.
Link enclosedSpecialTater
Nov 3, 2003 4:25 PM
african "7 days 7 marathons on 7 continents... whoa...!" 11/3/03 8:35am
No, it actually supports my arguement.............Len J
Nov 3, 2003 4:28 PM
these guys were running 4 1/2 to 5 hour marathons, that's around 10 1/2 to 11 minutes a mile. If you trained, you could do the tour course at half the average speed of the winner, (easy if you had a peleton to ride with).

A 2:11 marathon is an average of 5 minutes per mile. There is a much larger gap between a 4 3/4 marathon and a 2:11 marathon (in terms of effort) than between a tour (with a peleton) averaging 12 1/2 Mph vs 25 mph.

As I said, it's all about pace. Think of the difference in effort between riding a century in 8 hours vs 4 hours. I guarantee that if you ride one in 8 hours, you could go out the next day and ride another one in 8 hours. You could (if you trained reasonably, got enough sleep, hydration & nutrition) probably do this for 7 straight days. (you'd be beat, but you could do it. Now imagine that you did the first day in 4 hours, how many days straight could you do that?

As I said, it's all about pace.

Running ain't racing! Folks have run across America. nmdzrider
Nov 4, 2003 7:56 AM
You all protest too much. I wasn't dis'ing the marathoners...BrianNYC
Nov 3, 2003 4:41 PM
I do believe it is extremely tough and gruelling and I have only admiration and respect for all of them, not just the elite runners, for anyone training for it and finishing it. That being said, although I was not looking for a debate on the issue, I do not think that running 26 miles flat out compares with cycling 2300 or so miles in three weeks for a top GC contender.

Your logic is flawed, since a top contender has to be on his game every single stage, not just the stages he chooses, against many competitors who might only go all out for a single stage win. So, although stages may not be flat out, most of them seem to be at that level or close to it.

Second, wind resistance? I am not a runner, nor want to be, but how much wind is there to cut through at the speeds a marathoner is running vs. a cyclist? Will you bring up wind chill next (does that favor the runner or the cyclist)?

How about we just agree to disagree.

PS - I might agree with you if you compared a top marathon to a one day classis, but not three weeks of torture.
Sorry, but I beg to differ...serbski
Nov 3, 2003 6:55 PM
Len J hit the nail on the head when he said "it's all about pace". An elite marathoner is, to use Paul Sherwin's cycling vernacular, "on the rivet" for every inch of those 26.2 miles and he must counter any move made by a competitor without the benefit of a team. A protected team leader should theoretically have at least some teammates to help chase down a threatening breakaway or attack and, significantly, Mr.Team Leader has not been "red lining" the entire stage. I would like to point out that your logic is flawed in that a GC contender in no way has to chase down somebody going "all out for a single stage win" unless, of course, that person is *also* a GC contender. Does Lance worry when Jacky Durand goes on a stage win attempt breakaway? I think not. Furthermore, by Lance's own admission, he was anything but "on his game" for numerous stages and, once again by his own admission, he has his *team* to thank for keeping his bacon out of the fire. He was able to ride a defensive race and recover during certain stages and, as he felt stronger, he could take some time back at key points during a given stage. He would *never* have gone full-bore for an entire stage (TT's excepted of course). I think that Len J was pointing out that a Grand Tour is approached by a potential GC guy in much the same manner as a marathon by its respective potential winner i.e. pace yourself! There are stage race ultramarathons (Marathon des Sables) and the runners in these cases do not run to their maximum ability on a daily basis but, rather, attempt to keep their competitors within a safe striking distance time-wise. If Lance or Jan or Joseba went out at an effort equivalent to that of an elite marathoner (2:10 or so) for an entire stage, stage after stage, they would *no way* make it for the full three weeks (or would finish near the back). Granted, the TdF is known for the riders going "a bloc" all the time but the top dogs are not tapping themselves out day after day. As Len J stated, an elite marathoner could stack day after day of "marathons" run, but only at a measured pace for each, that pace being well below his maximal effort. Look at how guys like Botero or Verenque suffer like dogs and lose mega-time the day following a spectacular stage win on the Ventoux. They went out like there was, literally, "no tomorrow" and paid the price in full. GC guys don't wear the Yellow Jersey for 3-weeks nor do they win every stage (rather they seem to go for the least required to be in Yellow in Paris). My point is this: marathoners and Tour GC contenders are far more *similar* than dissimilar. I am sorry if you did not look for a debate but I am only trying to show that these two sports share more than one might allow at first glance.
think you guys might be missing the biggest differencehokie_biker
Nov 3, 2003 8:31 PM
is that running, especially marathoning is much higher impact then cycling is.
I'm not a competitive cyclist, but was a runner in high school. The exertion level is pretty similiar, although I've never run a marathon or ridden over 70 miles, but I can tell you this, my body feels totally different after each one.
I feel pretty much the same after running or riding, although there is no pounding on my body while riding my bike. Yeah, it hurts and I'm sore when I'm done. I had to give up running because of a bum ankle, I can ride without any pain there.