Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ben Cheever

Ben Cheever's latest book is Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete.

Jamie Malanowski interviewed him for

Their first two exchanges:

You charmingly convey the sense of pride you felt in your development as a runner. At this point in your life, you've run in approximately 50 marathons. You make it seem very easy. Here's your chance to come clean -- can anybody do what you've done?

I've run dozens of marathons, but the race still scares me. That's a long way to go. The wall is not a figment of the imagination. A first marathon -- like that first mile -- can be a life-changing experience. Someday one of these races is going to get me. And I'll be heartbroken until I run the next one. Jim Fixx said that anyone who can walk can run. I'm not certain he's right there, but most of us can run. And most of us don't. Which is fine. Whatever gets you through the night. Without running, though, I don't think I'd make it until morning.

You discuss the findings of some evolutionists who believe we developed as a species because of our aptitude for long distance running. Where do you come out on that?

The chimp doesn't have our arch or Achilles tendon. There's some feeling now that we evolved to be runners shortly after we evolved to stand. Dr. Dennis Bramble of the University of Utah and Dr. Daniel Lieberman of Harvard see distance running as a significant step in the development of man. The piece they ran in Nature Magazine in 2004 got an enormous amount of attention. Mostly from runners. Bramble and Lieberman are both runners.
Read the full interview.

--Marshal Zeringue