Saturday, April 6, 2013

In Memory of Michael

By Ross Forman

The “when” and “where” part of my next marathon were a challenge; it was tough to find the perfect race on an ideal weekend.

The “who” was relative easy.  Specifically, “for whom.”

Jump back to the 2013 Tel Aviv Marathon, which was to have been held on Friday, March 15, and was to have been my 19th marathon over the past 5 ½ years.  However, three days before the marathon, organizers postponed the event a week due to an excessive heat wave that was predicted.

The temperature was expected to soar into the 90s pretty early that Friday morning, so the decision was made to postpone the 26.2-mile marathon, yet proceed with the 13.1-mile half marathon and other shorter-distance races. More than 30,000 runners were expected to cross the Starting Line in Tel Aviv for the multiple races.

I learned of the race-day change upon landing in Newark, for a four-hour layover, before my United Airlines flight to Tel Aviv.  With the half marathon still set to proceed, I chose to continue my journey, though it briefly crossed my mind to just turn around and go home.

About 30 minutes after the half marathon started on that Friday, the temp was already 77 degrees, and the mercury quickly soared past 90.  Yeah, it was hot.

So hot, in fact, that many runners needed medical attention.  Reports said 80 runners suffered heat stroke or other ailments caused by the heat. 

Michael Michalevitch – a 29-year-old soldier, husband and father of a newborn baby – collapsed along the course.  He was taken to the hospital, and later pronounced dead.  Media reports said that Michalevitch was an officer in the Israeli military and an avid runner who was comfortable running up to 12 miles per day.

My next marathon will be for Michael.

I don’t know Michael, or his family, or even what brand of running shoes he wore.  I just want to do something to honor him.

So, after much debate, I’ve decided to return to the Pacific Northwest in July for the annual Foot Traffic Flat – an Independence Day marathon run on Sauvie Island, which is about 15 miles north of Portland, Ore.  The festive holiday event features homemade strawberry shortcake at the Finish Line, as well as ice baths.

“We aren’t going to change a whole lot with the course, since it’s always been a fun event, but we do plan a few small tweaks to the event to make it more smooth,” organizer Sean T. Rivers told me in late-March.

Sean once again has helped get me excited to run the Foot Traffic Flat for the second consecutive year – and this time it’ll be for Michael.

I truly hope that, with today’s modern technology, specifically, social media, that this blog gets to Michael’s family well before I hit the Starting Line on Sauvie Island.

After the Foot Traffic Flat, I’ll find my way to my post-marathon tradition: a yogurt shop.  I also might hit Voodoo Doughnut, which is a local legend in Portland and features such creative offerings as Bacon Maple Bar, Captain My Captain, The Loop, Grape Ape, Memphis Mafia, and even Old Dirty Bastard, among others.

I’m back on the Insanity circuit, dedicated to the daily workouts under the leadership of Shaun T because I want the Foot Traffic Flat to truly be a memorable run.

And I know it will be,


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