These guys. The one on the left is Knox Robinson, the maestro behind the @firstrun Instagram account and the world’s foremost purveyor of running culture. On the right is Ed Caesar, author of the book Two Hours, reporter for Wired magazine on the Breaking2 project, and a budding competitive runner in his own right. These guys took to the race track in Monza last Saturday after Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour attempt, Knox setting the tempo for Ed as the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Englishman tried to run under 90 minutes in the half marathon for the first time. “Breaking90” as Ed half-jokingly referred to his quest, would mean lopping over 6 minutes off his previous best for the distance, no small task for a large man who only began training in earnest last December. I’ll leave the drama for Ed to share with you in his blow-by-blow account that went live on Wired’s website Monday morning, but 1:30 was not just broken—it was smashed, the clock stopping at 1:26:52, an effort that sent him straight to the ground, exhausted and elated by his effort. “I’ve loved the process,” Ed wrote to me in an email last Sunday. “Yesterday was hard. I was tired. But I knew I could do it.”
These guys, serendipitously enough, were the first two subjects of “Going Long,” the semi-regular longform interview series I launched in January as an adjunct to the morning shakeout. At the time, there was no official connection between the two (that I’m aware of, anyway), but there was a reason I wanted to speak to Ed and Knox before anyone else. These guys, through their respective voices and outlets, provide different and unique perspectives on running that are helping to generate fresh excitement and a new interest in the sport and the culture behind it. Follow them, lose yourself in their stories and, if nothing else, be open to looking at running in a way that you previously didn’t imagine it.
“I hope I’ve been able to paint a picture of the full dimensionality of running, opening that space to build ties with people, beyond “oh, you’ve reached your fitness goals” or have it seen as the purview of rich white men,” Knox told me back in January. “I’d like full-figured women of color to be seen as a runner, and I’d like to help push the understanding that Kenyans aren’t fetishized superhumans from the other side of the planet; they’re just like us: runners who have highs and lows like everybody else. So I feel like, if anything, I hope to mix it up, add some nuance and some storytelling and problematize people’s assumptions about what running culture looks and feels like — what it is and what it could be tomorrow, for all of us.”
A version of this post first appeared in the morning shakeout, my weekly email newsletter covering running, writing, media and other topics that interest me. If you’d like for it to land in your inbox first thing on Tuesday mornings, subscribe here.