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Keeping Score: Running becomes a state of mind

  • Greenfield native Beth Davenport is still cranking out marathons. The New Mexico resident is up to 326 for her career. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/CHIP AINSWORTH


Friday, January 04, 2019

Good morning!

Beth Davenport was upstairs at Green Fields Market, holding a black cup of coffee and waiting for a friend to arrive. She fit the profile of a long distance runner — tall, lithe and relaxed in her long-sleeved “Kringle Jingle” T-shirt from a recent 5K in Albuquerque.

It’s not easy keeping up with the 58-year-old Greenfield native, who was in town visiting her mother Miney and connecting with GHS classmates David Sund, Leigh (Seibert) Labrie and Emily (Graves) Bak.

Her 326 marathons have included four tours of the 50 states, and currently she’s 37 marathons into her fifth circuit around the USA. In February she’ll run the Pueblo Marathon on the Arkansas River Trail, and head to Little Rock the following weekend.

Each race, she said, has its own drawing card. In Indiana she did a lap around the Indianapolis Speedway, and in North Dakota she posed with the bloody wood chipper that was used in the movie Fargo.

In August she was a charter participant in the inaugural Green River Marathon from Vermont to GCC. “That was a nice race, my old bike loop from when I was a teenager,” she said. “They’ve moved it to Labor Day weekend and that makes it a bit trickier because I’d planned on going to Idaho.

“I still love Twin Cities best of all,” she added. “The course, the food, the people, the expo — buy your running shoes at the expos, you’ll get good deals.”

When asked if her running had become, well, a tad obsessive, she smiled and replied, “We don’t judge.”

She joined the 50 States Marathon Club that was founded in 2001 by Steve and Paula Boone. According to narratively.com, runners become eligible after they’ve finished 10 marathons in 10 different states. Indeed, of its 4,541 members, fewer than a third have completed the daunting 50-state loop.

The list includes Robert Douglas Britain who was the first to finish all 50 in under four hours as a Clydesdale (over 200 pounds); Holly Koester was the first to complete all 50 marathons as a wheelchair athlete; Rick Worley was the first to do all 50 in a calendar year. In December, 87-year-old Roger Hauge completed his fourth trip around the bases.

Perhaps because she doesn’t strive for personal bests, the 5-foot-9, 140-pound Davenport has never had a significant injury. “I’m a pacer,” she explained. “Twelve-minute miles, like a metronome.”

And yet she said the day might come when it’s time to hang up her ASICS. “There are people out there running, begging for seven- and eight-hour extended time limits. That’s not going to be me.”

Davenport is one of only 11 “made members” to reside in New Mexico. A UMass graduate with a degree in biology, she moved “the day the Challenger exploded” to take a job in Santa Fe. “I had turned 30 and began walking the four miles to work. One day I was late and I ran. I liked it and so I joined a friend’s running club.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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This year’s bowl season was a dud, or more accurately, my bowl picks were a dud. The closest I came to scoring big was predicting Miss America would sing the national anthem at the Military Bowl.

The most frustrated of all the bowl teams on this year’s slate had to be Boston College. The Eagles had flown to Texas to play Boise State in the First Responder Bowl, but the game was canceled late in the first quarter when lightning threatened the area. Running back A.J. Dillon was finally healthy, BC’s offensive line was protecting the quarterback and the Eagles led 7-0 when they were whistled off the field.

“The work, the time, the effort and expense,” texted BC assistant Jim Reid. “We were going to kick the (crap) out of them. Now we’re in our third hour sitting on this runway waiting to take off.”

When they finally arrived back in Boston, he texted a followup: “We spent five hours on the tarmac. It was a charter and wives and children were on board. It was hilarious, like Disney World.”

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As one of the 2,726 spectators at the Mullins Center on Dec. 21, I can attest that the UMass basketball team is ensconced in a brand of playground basketball that’s fun to watch and fun to play, but doesn’t win a lot of games.

The Minutemen are allowing 75.8 points per game, which ranks them 270th of the 351 teams in Division I. The anchor team, Savannah State, is allowing a ghastly 100.1 ppg.

UMass is one spot lower than Derek Kellogg’s LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds, which tells you that nothing’s changed on the hardwood under coach Matt McCall.

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Asked if he had an early favorite in the Run for the Roses, New York handicapper Dave Gonzalez texted, “Code of Honor… runs today at Gulfstream.” Trained by Shug McGaughey, the 3-year-old son of Noble Mission broke his maiden first asking at Saratoga. JR Velazquez will be in the irons when he exits the four post in the 10th race as the 7/5 morning line favorite.

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The UMass softball team was a finalist to land softball pitcher Mo’ne Davis. Four years ago last summer, Davis became the first girl to win a game and pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series. She chose Hampton University, reportedly over UMass, Coppin State, Penn, Bethune-Cookman and Southern.

Coach Kristi Stefanoni’s team opens the season against Kansas and LIU-Brooklyn on Feb. 15 in Orlando. Twenty-two road games later, they’ll play their home opener against St. Bonaventure on March 23, and host the A-10 Championship at Sortino Field in May, a reward for last year’s 21-0 conference record.

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SQUIBBERS: David Samson was a guest on ESPN 106.3 FM in Jupiter this week. The former Marlins president said that ever since Derek Jeter took over the club, “I just sit alone in my house in my underwear doing nothing.” … Quick turnaround for Manny Diaz, who left Temple to return to Miami and coach the Hurricanes after Mark Richt unexpectedly quit. Diaz’s father Manny was a two-term mayor of Miami from 2001 to 2009. … Wanna read a good sports book? Check downstairs at Tom Swetlund’s Federal Street Books. The selection includes Ben Bradlee Jr.’s 771-page biopic of Ted Williams “The Kid,” John Feinstein’s “A Season on the Brink” about Bobby Knight, Roger Kahn’s “The Boys of Summer” and the Vince Lombardi biography “When Pride Still Mattered” by David Maraniss. … Clemson doesn’t miss Dexter Lawrence, but Dexter Lawrence sure misses Clemson. … ESPN has thankfully decided to move Sunday Night baseball back an hour to 7 p.m. … A year ago February, USA Today reported that Manny Machado was a shoo-in to sign with the Yankees. It’s a soft market and Machado can’t fall back on the O’s like Bryce Harper appears to be doing with the Nationals. … Farewell and happy trails to Steve and Diane, I’m sure gonna miss those cinnamon donuts at Johnson’s Farm.