Going the distance

Renowned distance runner Joan Benoit Samuelson will be in Columbia this week to announce the inaugural Iron Girl Half Marathon and coed 5K races, which will be held next April. (Photo courtesy of / August 15, 2011)

I don't profess to be an expert on long distance running. I do know that I have been extremely lucky in my sports writing career to have met one of the greatest long distance/marathon runners in the world the late Norwegian Grete Waitz. This nine-time New York Marathon winner and winner of countless other races was in Columbia years ago to promote running.

Now I hope to be able to meet the second great marathoner when Joan Benoit Samuelson, one of my personal favorites, will be here this week to promote to next April's inaugural Iron Girl Half Marathon and coed 5k. Proceeds from those races are earmarked for the Claudia Mayer Resource Center at Howard County General Hospital and Joan will be visiting the facility while she is in town.

Joan won the Boston Marathon in 1979 and again in 1983 smashing records as she blazed a new trail in women's marathon running. She won the inaugural Olympic women's marathon at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, beating out none other than Waitz.

In 1985, Joan won the Chicago Marathon in another record time and has established herself among the great runners of all time. She has written books including "Running Tide" and "Running for Women." Most importantly, Joan Benoit Samuelson is a long-time resident of Maine, my home state, and also graduated from my alma mater, Bowdoin College.


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Maybin cut, signs with Jets

As a community we take pride any time one of our athletes "makes it big" in any sport or endeavor. We were thrilled with the play of Aaron Maybin in high school at Mt. Hebron and then at Penn State, and we rejoiced when he was selected in the first round by the Buffalo Bills in 2009National Football League draft.

Unfortunately, nothing in this world is guaranteed and certainly nothing is guaranteed when you are trying to make it in the National Football League. So we were disappointed this week to learn that Aaron has been cut by the Bills. I have seen this youngster play and it is hard to believe that the Aaron Maybin we saw at Penn State was cut by the Bills.

Fortunately, Maybin signed with the Jets, whose coach, Rex Ryan, thinks Maybin can still be an effective pass-rusher. Let's hope Maybin makes the most of his opportunity to play for the Ravens' former defensive coordinator.

Swim, bike, run; then bike lots more

Two big athletic events are on tap the next two weekends. First, the Athleta Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon will be held Aug. 21. This popular women-only triathlon will draw 2,400 athletes to Centennial Park for a .62-mile swim, a 17.5-mile bike and a 3.3-mile run. The bike portion of the Iron Girl goes west on Route 108 and then out Homewood Road. Expect some traffic congestion and please be considerate of the participants.

The second event is the 24 Hours of Booty, which takes place Aug. 27-28 at the Columbia Gateway Business Park. The family-friendly cancer charity cycling event begins at 2 p.m. on the 27th and ends 24 hours later. Registration is still open and volunteer support is needed for the full 24 hours. To volunteer, email info@24hoursof booty.org.

Through Aug. 8, more than 42 teams and 380 riders have registered for the 24 Hours of Booty of Columbia. The Gateway "Booty Loop" includes a 2.1-mile long course with a mixture of hills and flats that is geared for participants of all ages and cycling abilities. The event benefits LiveStrong and the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.