13 December 2010

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - The "prequel" (the original marathon)

How to hide a marathon.

Strangely, no one seems to know for sure what the last year of the old marathon was.  Len Goldman, longtime member and past president of Oakland's oldest running club, the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders, narrows it down to either 1983 or 1984.  That's as close as anyone I contacted could say.

If anyone reading this post knows for sure, please comment back and shed some light on what could be a Hardy Boys book: "The Case of the Missing Marathon".

Going through the file of clippings labeled "Sports - Track & Field" at the History Room at the main branch of the Oakland Library one sees various newspaper articles about the early years of the event but nothing past 1981.

Seems that it had a bright future but abruptly vanished, possibly with a whiff of scandal.

A fine article in the East Bay Express appearing shortly before the inaugural 2010 Oakland Marathon, describes the prospects for the new event, along with some history about the old one.

About a year after I originally wrote this post, I was at a 80th birthday party here in Chico for my friend, Lin Jensen.  Much to my surprise, on the wall with photos and other significant ephemera from his life so far, was a photo of him running the 1980 Oakland Marathon as well as a letter from the race director certifying his achieving a Boston Marathon qualifying time (3:05:50 at age 48!).  Lin graciously authorized my including these in this post.  Photos by Karen Laslo.

Lin Jensen running 1980 Oakland Marathon

Boston qualifying letter - full letter
Boston qualifying letter - detail
Boston qualifying certificate

At the History Room I was able to photograph a 1980 marathon program (produced after the race), as well as the entry form for the same event.

1980 Oakland Marathon program
1980 entry form

1980 entry form

While it's sad (and mysterious) that the original event did not have staying power, the course of the new marathon is vastly improved.  The old marathon's mileage was concentrated on an out-and-back course from downtown to the vicinity of the Coliseum.  The new course takes runners on a grand tour of the city that is both more scenic and more challenging.

1980 entry form - course map

The next post in the "Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour" will be the beginning of the tour in the heart of downtown Oakland at 14th and Broadway.

Oakland Marathon neighborhood tour - navigational links:
Backward to: Introduction
Forward to: Downtown
Oakland Marathon website

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