Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Track's longest race can be its best

To those who don’t follow track, the longest race may not seem like the most exciting. Only the very best can finish in under nine minutes. Yes, the 3200 might not be as action-packed as an average football or basketball game, but the race has given me one of my favorite sportswriting memories.

In 2011, I worked for The Morning Journal out of Lorain, which is a sister newspaper of the News-Herald. At the state track meet, Bay’s Michael Brajdic was the clear front-runner in the 3200. He finished second the previous year after losing a substantial lead to Elyria Catholic’s Marty Coolidge in the final 200 meters. Brajdic and Coolidge were rivals – the two schools are just 14 miles apart – with Coolidge winning the state championship over Brajdic in cross country that previous fall.

But a year later, Brajdic was coming off a state title in cross country himself in the fall of 2010. He was leading after the first four laps, but then something strange happened. When Brajdic passed by where I was standing, near the finish line, one of his shoes was … missing. It turns out he lost his right shoe halfway through race.

Runners' socks aren't the thickest, and we're talking about four laps. Using adrenaline as his pain killer, Brajdic kept running. He finshed the race six seconds faster than Tipp City’s Sam Wharton – who, coincidentally – beat Chardon’s Nick Elswick for first place in the 3200 this year. 

Brajdic said his foot, running on a his sock for a full mile, didn’t hurt during the race, but he had a silver-dollar size blister on his right foot that must have left him limping for days.

-- Cory Schuett


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