Letters to the Master
Warren Street Social & Athletic Club
Proud WS Runner in Hong Kong Marathon 2012
It's been a long time (6 years since I left NYC, and not a day goes by that I don't miss it and you guys)! I thought you might appreciate the fact that the 2012 Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon saw the participation of at least one man proudly sporting a Warren Street shirt. That was yours truly.
It was my first marathon in nine years (Boston 2003) and my time in Arizona has been plagued with back problems. I am in Hong Kong to spend my sabbatical year (professors get to do that) and that gave me a chance to try the distance once again. 3:08 and change is not too shabby for an old man, on a very tough course.
Anyway, I am sure I am not the first WSer to run in Asia, but I thought you might enjoy the story. Have WS shirt, will travel.
Ballad of Tommy Downs
By Paul Fetscher
Sweeny was generally known as one of the first White men to be found running
thru the streets of Jersey City. For
those of you who are either really, really old - or are great students of track
and field, Sweeny one day ran into an elderly (then) gentleman, Horace
Ashenfelter who was a resident of Jersey City.http://www.ashenfelterclassic.com/horace.shtml
such a luminary, besides Sweeny's penchant to run in the seamier sides of the
world, insisted on running thru all parts of Jersey City. Sweeny met this scrawny local who was a boxer. He was
doing his roadwork when Sweeny came across him. Within but a few weeks,
this lightweight boxer (or was he flyweight?) was able to keep up with Hugh.
Needless to say, a Warren Street Shirt and Central Park were next on the schedule. Tommy promptly became a strong contributing member of Warren Street. However he didn't give up his boxing ambitions.
night Tommy invited us down to the Jersey City Arena for
one of his bouts. The scene was straight out of a Martin Scorcese script.
The ring lights were bright. Puffs of smoke wafted over the room.
Eddie Shannon had reserved the entire front row for Shannon's Bar and Grill and
the normal hangers on; One Eyed Danny, Marty "the Ear", and the normal
suspects who were only temporarily unnailed from their permanent positions at
the time, I was dating Kathy Van Forst (winner of the Carol Lynley Look Alike
Contest). So I parade in, dressed for work in Manhattan, with a gorgeous
blue-eyed blonde on my arm. Damon Runyon couldn't have positioned it
a number of people come up and ask who I'm there for. "My boy,
loved the positioning. Perhaps his opponent felt that if he beat Tommy, he
might have had a larger problem later.
Tommy had a great night. Flyweights as they do, stood toe to toe - and
simply flurries of fists flew. By the second round, Tommy started to have
an edge. Round Three - Tommy's endurance kicked in and he simply pummeled
his exhausted opponent. victory was had in the 9 minutes in the squared
As you might suspect, a substantial victory celebration was held at Shannons.
Central Park - 10 Mile Perhaps Sweeny's best run ever in Central Park. Sweeny was out with the lead pack. Passing the 4 mile in 20:04 Sweeny quipped. "Well, I can quit now. I've got my PR for the day" . Sweeny continued to a 50:40
were the days when that wasn't fast enough to win)
Alan Silber and I were running in the opposite direction and saw Tommy Downs
with about 1/3 of a mile to the finish. Tommy, looking a bit bedraggled
looked at us and asked in his inimitable Jersey City Accent,"How
much furdder? Eym toyed!"
finished in about 53:and change,
Downs also posted his mark in the Marathon getting down to 2:20.
Unfortunately, further down the road, Tommy fell into a bottle. At
last report he had successfully completed rehab and had a steady job.
As we all care about those characters who filled out our finest hours, we also care about where they are now. Bruce Springstein at the time had a song that succinctly encapsulated who we were at the time - and what we did. In addition to "Growing Up", (They Said Sit Down, I Stood Up") he also wrote one that hit the nail on the head. "Glory Days".
6/21/05 Letter from Fabio Lanza:
9/22/03, Letter from Brennan runner turned Triathlete!
In a letter from Bob Simmons, June 4th, 2002
Great to hear from you, Mike. I think about you and other Warren Street folks all the time. I've been keeping up on the team's performance, and we're doing remarkably well without a lot of last year's top scorers running as well as they have in the past, or in some cases not running at all. I wasn't able to run much this spring due to school responsibilities, so I've only recently been able to up my mileage, and then I was immediately stricken with an injury to my right lower calf, one of the few areas that has held up fairly well in the past few years. I got back up to six miles this morning (plus 20 min. on a Stairmaster), but I have a long way to go. I'm just hoping I can lift and stretch enough that I can hold off the same injuries from nagging me that have held me down for the past two years.
I was planning to run a big 20K in Des Moines this weekend, but that's not going to happen with my leg as tender as it is. My first race will be a 10K next weekend in Green Bay, Michelle's home town. I get a free entry, free spaghetti dinner, free hotel room, and a couple days to spent with my in-laws, whom I like a great deal, so I'm looking forward to it.
I don't think I'll get to NYC until the Club Championships, and that might be my only New York race this year. We're remodeling our first floor and an upstairs bathroom this summer, so money is tighter than usual, as is time, since I'll be taking my comprehensive exams next spring and have a phenomenal amount to read before then. If I could find a way to get Scotty to beam me to Manhattan, I'd be there every month, but the time and money it takes to schlep your way makes it tough. I'd like to take part in the marathon experience again, but it's at a terrible time of the semester, and the course is so tough that I'd have a harder time qualifying for the Olympic Trials there than I would elsewhere, such as Twin Cities (a four-hour drive away), which is in late September (a month into the semester), and which is hosting the national championships this year.
This is all to say that you'll probably only see me in August. I hope I'm healthy. And I hope that we can have a gathering of some sort after the race--that really adds to the appeal of coming out there. You folks are a bundle of laughs.
So all in all, my life has been great. I got through six more classes and one more qualifying exam this year, presented another paper, had a great year of teaching, worked on our department's scholarly journal alongside one of the world's most renowned classical scholars, and am constantly entertained by Michelle. All that's been missing is an appreciable amount of running. I have more time for it this summer, so I just need my flesh to cooperate.
I look forward to seeing you in August, and I wish I could head out more often. Give my best to Beth, as well as to Rick, John Nelson, Matt W., Brett A., Stephan, Jeremy, Celine, Mike A., Venkat, and others whom I am forgetting.
April 4, 2002, In an e-mail from Nat Larson one of our hall of fame runners (thanks for the reminder) , Nat Larson writes...